Wednesday, January 27, 2010


You all know my view that the world is about to experience a digital revolution that will change publishing (and education) much more — and light years faster — than the invention of the mass-produced book 550 years ago.

Amazon is now strongly promoting its larger-screen Kindle (9.7 inches, in old US terminology) — big enough to show every page of our “UNLIMITED’ book. (Amazon already has 400,000 books formatted for its smaller Kindle.)

It will soon release its Kindle “killer application” for Macs — so Mac-users will be able to read books and larger print formats online direct to their computer screens. (Kindle “developer projects” for Macs are already available from Amazon.)

And Apple itself will this week release its “mystery product” for the year.

From clues I picked up at the April 2009 Apple Leadership Summit in Hongkong, and media predictions recently*, this new product will almost certainly be some sort of iHub (some are dubbing it the iSlate) - to be a central coordinating “center” that will link together the Apple network, Macs, iTunes, iTunesU, iPhone, iPod and in particular, the iPod-touch (which, by the way, is brilliant).

My own wish for the week is that the new Apple breakthrough will, in fact, be “a Kindle-killer”: a much larger (Mac-screen size), ultra thin Kindle-type reader, but with built in touch-typing keyboard, full-color screen, connected to all other apple mobile appliances — especially the iPod-touch.

But, more than that, it would open the way to what I believe will be “the next big thing”: the updatable online video-book, perhaps similar (in a two-dimensional way: print and color digital photos) but then with each photo only one touch away from a video-clip (all contributed by students globally) showing “how to” actually do what is being demonstrated. And that only a short step away from the 3-D visioning invented by New Zealand’s Right Hemisphere company and now promoted by the NextSpace partnership between Right Hemisphere and the New Zealand Government. (Gavin Lennox, one of the recipients of this email, is NextSpace CEO.)

If these predictions are anywhere near correct, this could have incredible potential — almost “unlimited”:-) — for education.

Like the end of the hard-copy textbook. And the textbook (testbook?) publishers’ domination of US public education.

Wired magazine (the Bible of the digital-age) predicted something like this in the middle of last year:

Apple has also recently announced that authors/publishers of “book applications” suitable for Apple “appliances” will now receive the same income-split as other Apple-App developers for iTunes and iPod (70% of all on-screen sales to the developer; and 30% to Apple). Amazon has now come on board with the same income split, but only for books that are sold on Amazon in a Kindle-only format. (Note: Apple already has around 100,000 “applications” for its iPhone and iPod/iPod-touch programs: mostly much lower-priced than books, to encourage multi-million-hit usage.)

Bring on the competition.

For non-fiction books, such as UNLIMITED, one of the big benefits will be the ability to update fast-changing factual information. Example: in the first (existing hard-copy) edition of our new book, China had 550 million registered mobile phone users (mid-2008). Now it has well over 700 million. China’s main wireless carrier, China Mobile, services over 518 million of them—more than any other mobile carrier on the planet. And this year it will demonstrate its new 4G (fourth-generation) mobile phones.

In a fluent English-language interview with The Guardian (UK) this month, China Mobile CEO, mentioned: "We are trying to find other opportunities for acquisitions, but it's not easy. We are waiting for opportunities, whether in developed or developing countries".

Keep watching.

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