Thursday, January 27, 2011

New Zealand author-publisher Gordon Dryden takes up challenge on eBook forecasts

We ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

This clip from today’s edition of The Daily Telegraph in the UK highlights the really big increase in “digital application” sales, which put book figures into perspective:

Some of these “apps” have the potential to completely change “publishing”. How quickly that happens will depend on which category — and who innovates best and quickest.

Specifically, most “alternative-to-the-book” information is still devoted mainly to Apple iPad and Kindle (and copyists). But the big big news is in the soaring sales of applications for smart phones (especially those linked to bigger devices). For example, my prediction for school classroom changes, brought about by the new technology: simply the teacher with an iPad (and soon built-in projector) but with the students each using a low-cost iPod-touch. (This is already happening in bright New Zealand schools— and it is not used for “teacher instruction” but generally linked with students becoming experts, first using using video cameras to explore the world, and then editing what they have found.

Attached, for example: a list of “learn the basics” subjects available as low-cost “apps” for primary and intermediate schools. Total cost: around $180 (averaqe of around $1 each). (By the basics, I amusing that in the way commonly used: reading, writing, mathematics and some science. I personally rate creative thinking as the core basic.)

Once the word gets out re these simple educational uses, imagine what grandparents’ Christmas presents are likely to be: lower-priced versions and copiers of the iPad, iPod-touch, and iPhone (all with built-in video cameras).

It still amazes me how few people ever reflect on the (now soaring) impact of Moore’s Law (The prediction, by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, that Silicon Valley innovators — with help now from the Japanese, Taiwanese and Koreans — will continue to be able to either pack twice as many transistors on a “silicon chip” or integrated circuit; or cut prices in half, every two years maximum — and sometimes as fast as 18 months).

We marvelled at that back in the early 50s when the first “transistor radios” emerged (with only a handful of transistors in each, and each of those soldered together by hand). Ditto a few years later when the first pocket calculators wiped out the slide rule.
By last year (2010) came the first “chip” with 2 billion transistors. So:

2012: 4 billion
2014: 8 billion
2016: 16 billion
2018: 32 billion
2020: 64 billion

Today’s global population next year reaches 7 billion.

(When will we hear even one New Zealand politician talk on this, and the resulting impact and potential for our economy? No 3% productivity increases here.) Note: most forecasters say the “silicon age” will actually end by 2020, and we will have to develop nanotechnology, and dny computers to keep up the doubling process.

So what will be the impact of those simple expansions on the publishing industry?

Already, by 2000 only 12% of the world’s population had a mobile phone (and half had never made a phone call).

By the end of 2010: 5 billion mobile phones (compared with 2 billion personal computers).

Fastest-rising segment: “smart phones” - really multimedia computers in your pocket: your own bank, ATM machine, book, interactive learning system. If an iPod could put 15,000 of your personally chosen songs and music tracks (your own personal radio station) into your pocket ten years ago – your own library tomorrow? And in what formats?

By 2012 virtually everyone on earth will have a mobile phone (complete with own camera and video camera).

No later than 2016, nearly all will have their own low-cost multimedia computer in their pocket.

For at least two forms of books (sporting and cookbooks – the staple Christmas presents): goodbye – immediately.

Who will buy another book on a rugby star when you can buy (for a fraction of the price) a video-iBook, and a touch-on-the-screen photo takes you to a video action clip?

Ditto for cookbooks, as Annabel Langbein has proven this past year with her own TV show, self-published book and DVD.

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