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eReaders

Google continues working on Ara modular smartphone project
February 27, 2014 | 11:42 am

arabackGoogle might have sold Motorola, but it turns out it hung onto the part of the company that’s been working on its Project Ara modular smartphone design. Time has an extensive feature about the project: turns out that Google is looking at creating a bare-bones design that would sell for as little as $50 for the base unit—possibly something that could be sold in convenience stores, much like pre-paid phones are now. The base unit would be little more than a screen, a frame, and a wi-fi radio; about like a low-end iPod Touch I suppose. You’d have to...

G Asset Management seeks to buy majority share of B&N, or B&N’s Nook subsidiary
February 21, 2014 | 4:19 pm

So what are we to make of this? An investment firm, G Asset Management, wants to buy 51% of Barnes & Noble in a deal working out to $22 per share. (Its current share price is $18.) This isn’t the first offer it’s made for the business, either. It offered $20 per share in November. If it can’t buy the whole thing, it wants to buy 51% of Barnes & Noble’s Nook business at $5 per share. The firm thinks that B&N should split its retail and Nook businesses. The interesting thing to me is that, if B&N were...

Smartphones replace entire Radio Shack advertisement worth of gadgets
February 15, 2014 | 1:10 pm

radioshackadJust to show how far we’ve come in the last twenty-three years, a blogger recently came across a full-page Radio Shack newspaper ad from 1991, and noticed that all except two items on the ad have now been superseded by his iPhone. While a few of his comparisons are a little iffy (for example, the iPhone could be said to replace a CB radio inasmuch as you can chat with people on the go, but it doesn’t let you chat on CB radio on the go; and not everyone uses their phone as their full-time computer) most of them...

Google releases Chromecast SDK
February 4, 2014 | 3:56 am

CAM00395-1 Ars Technica reports that Google has finally issued a public SDKpublic SDK (software development kit) for its Chromecast HDMI TV dongle, meaning that for the first time, coders of random audio and video playing apps for Android, iOS, or the Chrome browser will be able to incorporate Chromecasting into their apps without having to work closely with Google to do it. Who knows what kind of apps we’ll get? Might there be a Chromecast e-reader app? It seems kind of unlikely. Due to the restrictions on the user interface, such an app might throw text up...

Adobe’s change of DRM could end old e-readers’ compatibility with e-book stores
February 3, 2014 | 5:27 pm

Here’s a story Nate covered over on The Digital Reader, that could be important in months to come. Adobe is changing up its DRM format, and as of July, will stop supporting the old format altogether. Any new EPUB e-books sold with Adobe DRM on them will be incompatible with older readers unless they have been upgraded. This really is a pretty big deal. Pretty much every e-reader sold besides Kindle and Nook used Adobe ADEPT e-book DRM. (And I seem to recall even Nook could support ADEPT DRM even though B&N used a slightly different DRM format for...

Google sells Motorola phone business, keeps patent portfolio
January 30, 2014 | 3:23 am

Motorola_logo26Well, there’s an example of comedic timing for you. Just the other day, Gizmodo speculated that Google might kill off the Nexus line of tablets and phones in favor of “Google Play Edition” devices from other hardware manufacturers—including, notably, Motorola, who Google owns. But today, news came out that had Gizmodo saying, “What?!” Turns out Google is selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. The deal includes all Motorola’s phone hardware, but Google is keeping most of Motorola’s patents. Google already sold Motorola’s set-top box unit to Arris for $2.35 billion. It only just bought Motorola in 2011...

Polaroid mini-tablet offers Android iPod Touch alternative…though not a very good one
January 23, 2014 | 9:28 pm

polaroidtabI have mentioned more than once that Android lacks a real equivalent to the iPod Touch. Sure, there are plenty of smartphones, and there are more than a few mini-tablets, but the mini-tablets generally seem to be running version 2 of Android, which means they have no (legitimate) access to the Play Store. Since I’ve ended up switching to an Android smartphone that fills my music-playing needs, I haven’t needed one as much, but I’ve still been curious whether one might become available. I was interested the other day when Nate mentioned on The Digital Reader that Sony was...

Amazon ranked #1 in customer satisfaction again; knocks $30 off Fire tablets to celebrate
January 9, 2014 | 3:13 pm

In honor of being ranked #1 in customer satisfaction during the holiday shopping season for the 9th year in a row by the ForeSee Experience Index, Amazon has announced it is knocking $30 off all Kindle Fire tablets until 11:59 p.m. Pacific time, January 11th. That would knock the base model 7” Kindle Fire HD down to $109, the 7” HDX (with the new Mayday Button) or the 8.9” HD down to $199, and the 8.9” HDX down to $349. Not bad pricing, all in all, if that’s what you’re looking for in a tablet. To take advantage of...

Is ‘astroturfing’ responsible for spread of publishing myths?
January 9, 2014 | 12:30 pm

astroturfAre many of the complaints we hear about the rise of e-books and Amazon the result of astroturfing—fake “grass roots” campaigns orchestrated by publishing entities? If they aren’t now, they might be soon. That’s the upshot of a blog entry by David Gaughran calling attention to a recent remark by YS Chi, the chairman of Elsevier and president of the International Publishers Association. Referring to attempting to correct publishers’ “image problem” due to various consumer “misperceptions” about the realities of publishing, such as how expensive e-books are to produce versus print books, Chi said (with emphasis added by Gaughran):...

Facial recognition for random strangers, coming soon to Google Glass and your smartphone
January 8, 2014 | 9:39 pm

nametag_1Smartphones might be good for e-reading, but soon they’ll be able to read your face, too. Remember the uproar when Facebook announced plans to add face recognition identity tagging to its photos? It turned out only to be meant to tag people who you’d friended already, but to hear most people you’d have thought they were going to have their identities revealed to total strangers. Well, CNET Australia now reports on a forthcoming app for Android, iOS, and Google Glass that could reveal your identity to total strangers. Called NameTag, the app will allow users to snap photos...

Barnes & Noble names Nook division CEO Michael Huseby to overall CEO slot
January 8, 2014 | 2:20 pm

Barnes and Noble has just picked up a new overall CEO. Or at least a new-old one. Digital Book World and Publishers Weekly report that B&N has moved Michael Huseby, former CEO of the Nook division, into the top CEO spot left by William Lynch who vacated in July. Huseby said in a statement in the press release: My role, as I see it, is to enhance and unlock the value of these businesses for our shareholders. We are well-positioned in today’s dynamic reading and learning markets and confident in our ability to provide our customers...

webOS would have had more devices at HP, but now lives on in LG TVs
January 7, 2014 | 2:45 pm

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.’” ― John Greenleaf Whittier, Maud Muller – Pamphlet Via its Pilot and Palm PDAs, Palm was singlehandedly responsible for ushering in the PDA revolution, which led to the smartphone and tablet revolutions, but it met a sad fate at the hands of a combination of market forces and mismanagement by a series of HP execs. We’ve covered the sad decline of webOS, culminating in the bargain-basement selloff of the TouchPad tablet. But now The Verge has an intriguing report on...