Michael Olivero
The official blog of Michael Olivero, Software Architect & Humble Entrepreneur

Digital Readers - another music CD replay?

Wednesday, 5 August 2009 21:26 by Michael Olivero

Continuing with the inertia of all things digital movement, we are now approaching the official transition of electronic books into the mainstream.  Yes, we have had ebooks and ebook readers, but there were always obstructions preventing them from reaching critical mass. Digital rights & copyright surely have their fair share objections, however technology has also been an inhibitor.  Take for example low resolution screens.  The human eye, when compared to traditional measurements of resolution, can process the equivalent of "324 megapixels" (1) camera.  So transitioning from reading magazines, with a relatively high print resolution, to a low resolution screen would be a painful experience for long periods of reading. On the flip side, the benefits of digital reading are profound.  The ability to select a word and obtain it's definition on the spot without much effort or interruption is a dream to any highschool student -- at least that was my biggest complaint back then.  How about searching for a specific section of a novel to extract an excerpt? How about simply accessibility -- who would want to lug  around 4 or 5 books. Now with technology all caught up -- extremely high resolution screens, awesome processing power with advanced CPU's, and great battery technology and the connectivity of the cloud thrown in to boot -- the time has come! Let me break away for a sec to compare this to CD's.  When compared to music CD's there was a time where we would pack our CD boxs on our weekend trip -- not all, but your favorite set for sure.  Today, you surely carry hundreds of albums on your iPhone (yes, I'm biased) as a second thought.  Well, books are on their merry way too -- and with a vengence IMHO. Music took a while too take a foothold to digitization primarily becuase the world was simply adjusting to the digitization shock.  I recall first hearing about MP3 around the middle of my BS degree around 1995 to 1996 time period -- yet the first mover risk syndrome still took a heavyweight like Apple an additional 5 years to release the first iPod. Now, roughly 14 years after mere MP3 awareness, we have a proliferation of digital music to the point where by the music titans are forced to rethink the concept of the album and the CD album insert, etc. from a digital perspective and make it a reality by collaborating with the new digital music titan -- Apple and iTunes (2). So, I feel we are just at the beginning of a similar digital turning point with books.   Amazon, naturally and without much turbulence, took the first step with their Kindle in late 2007 early 2008.  Their reader suffered from what I would call the newcomer syndrome.  Amazon is not known for building hardware nor software, yet here they are with a device on center stage.  With sufficient top down support (Bezos practically reserved Kindle as his next child's name) adoption is certain.  The level of endorsement has parallels with Bill and his digital ink / tablet initiatives. In short, what struck a chord to write this blog is Sony's entry into the market.  Sony's is known for building hardware -- particular for consumers with their walkman of the 80's and other eletronic devices having a sliver of software with them as their modern handycams.  Sony just yesterday announced a economically priced eReader for just $199.  Price attracts and with a brand like Sony, surely it will sell and will be a prominent second footing (3). My bets however are with my good old trusted expert in hardware/software combos with a keen focus on consumer -- yes, Apple.  Apple has been on the rummor mill now for years with a tablet -- even having a patent exposed for a tablet with touch screen.  My guess is they have no choice but to introduce a tablet or some type of reading / entertainment device leveraging their touch experience with the iPhone.  Perhaps even by the holiday season if rumors have their way this season unlike previous failed attempts to resurect it.  As a shareholder, I would almost be disappointed if they don't given the feaverish rush in this arena.

(1) http://www.clarkvision.com/imagedetail/eye-resolution.html

(2) http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/patterson/55013/report-apple-music-labels-hope-to-revive-the-record-album/

(3) http://www.dailytech.com/Sony+Announces+199+Pocket+Reader/article15887c.htm

Categories:   Software
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