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iBooks 2 and the Apple Textbooks

iBooks 2 and the Apple Textbooks
I haven’t posted to iPadWatcher for a while, but the temptation was too much when two of my favorite subjects, the iPad and Books were so much in evidence as they were this week.  When Apple introduced version 2.0 of its iBooks application for for the iPad with new enhanced support for interactive textbooks, a lot of people had a lot to say about it. I was one of them, but I decided to hold out a bit and better digest the news, before I started to write about it. Lets’s start with what was announced, regarding books.  Apple introduced both a new version of its eBook reading application for the iPad and a specialized eBook creation application for the Mac. The combination of these applications produces some impressive results as can be seen in a seven minute video published by Apple. On the original iPad the new iBooks 2 application has a great tendency to crash when you are interacting with the “interactive parts” of the textbooks.  This happens so frequently as to almost render the new books unusable at all.  Hopefully this will get sorted out in a minor update released within the next couple of weeks.  As it stands iBooks 2 is most disappointing to a large part of the potential readers due to instability issues. I have had less opportunity to play around with the iBooks Author application on the Mac, it seems like a very interesting piece of software.  iBooks Author borrows heavily from the interface of Apple’s iWork applications and seems very intuitive to use.  Getting started with the process of creating a new eBook is very straight forward with the help of the supplied templates. iBooks Author has specific support for embedding Keynote presentations as a multimedia element embedded into the textbook as if it where a picture.  That is where the interactive part starts to come into play with the new textbooks proposed by Apple. While the application seems like a great way to create great looking eBooks, Apple has left some strings attached which diminish the general appeal to content creators in general: books created with iBooks Author can only be sold through Apple and for reading on Apple devices.   There is a technical limitation as Apple took some liberties in extending the proposed EPUB3 standard in order to achieve the desired results and because the software’s end-user license agreement specifically limit you in this fashion. While I can understand Apple not wanting to make free applications for consuming its content on competing devices, I feel that explicitly trying to block content creators from selling their content for consumption by users of other devices is a very backward way of doing business. One thing which is not clear to me, but Apple may already have made known is whether or not the file format specification used by these new enhanced books will be freely available so that third-party authoring tools can generate compatible content. I’m sure that there will be a lot of interest in this area. Some publisher interest as shown in the form of a handful of titles which are being made immediately available.  Interactive textbooks is an area which publishers might embrace more enthusiastically as producing one of them is a much more complex and multifaceted endeavor than write a regular book.  Most authors are not experienced or have the means to create sophisticated eye-catching 3D animations or great looking video clips.  This is a space where large corporations certainly enjoy the advantage against the self-publishing author. I have always been a huge believer in eBooks, having worked on creating reading and authoring tools for them...
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Apple announces volume App sales for business

Apple has just announced that will introduce volume business sales to the App Store.  The announcement was made directly to developers and was not yet available on Apple’s website at the time of this writing. This initiative will probably receive a warm welcome from iOS App developers as it will make it a lot easier for businesses to acquire applications for a wide base of corporate users. Even more welcome will probably be the possibility having volume B2B sales of custom-made applications.  This development will make it easier for companies to place orders for specialized applications which will be tailored to their needs and will not be generally available on the App Store. These initiatives will probably help Apple to get a deeper, faster penetration into the corporate world with the...
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The iPad 2 sells out on the first day in Brazil

This past Friday, May 27th, the iPad 2 went on sale in Brazil.  While there weren’t many long lines of people waiting to buy their iPad as soon as the shops opened, it still pretty much sold out on the first day. Store representatives were unanimous in reporting that the 64GB 3G model was the one with most demand, but at the end of the day few stores had any model still available.  These same representatives were also mostly in agreement in stating that Apple made available a smaller supply of devices than when the first generation iPad was introduced in the country in November of 2010....
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Apple reports record numbers for the quarter

Apple reports record numbers for the quarter
During its scheduled quarterly earnings call, yesterday, Apple executives reported record numbers for revenue and profits.  Revenue for the quarter was $24.67 billion while profits came in at $5.99 billion, a growth of 85% over the year ago quarter. These numbers are the result of exceptionally high iPhone sales, with over 18 million iPhones sold in the quarter and a much smaller number of iPads sold than almost everyone was expecting.  Apple reported sales of only 4.69 million iPads in the quarter.  This number seems to be directly related to a constraint in production of the new iPad 2,  rather than to lack of demand as anyone who’s tried to get one recently can probably attest. Demand for iPad 2 seems to continue to be very high with Apple selling just about any they can...
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Apple’s developer conference sells out in 10 hours

Apple’s developer conference sells out in 10 hours
Apple announced its 2011 developer’s conference this morning and before the end of the day it had already sold out. This year’s conference will have 5000 attendees. Many corporate developers will be left out of this conference because it sold out before they had the chance to secure approval to attend. While I was expecting that the conference would sell out quickly, it never occurred to me that it could happen so quickly. Just this afternoon I told a friend that he should register soon as it would probably sell out in a couple of days. Well, he won’t be going this...
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iPad 2 launch: Hundreds of people line up at Apple Stores

As announced, Apple started the international release of the iPad today. Long lines formed in front os Apple Stores around the world, as Apple seems to have scheduled the start of sales at 5PM in the same way it was done in the US. Hundreds of people lined up in many stores in Australia where a lot of excitement has been building up over this launch. TUAW has gathered up some pictures of lines forming at Australian locations. It seems like the iPad 2’s international sales are off to a good start. Later today we’ll update with more information from around the...
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WordPress replaces Flash with HTML

WordPress replaces Flash with HTML
WordPress recently released a new version of its Stats plugin which helps bloggers track how many people have read which posts in their blogs.  A significant change in the new version is that the charts that it displays are rendered in HTML instead of using Flash. The removal of Flash from the stats plugin allows iPad users to now have access to all information directly on their devices.  Previously anyone using an iPad was left with a blank area on the page, in place which should have been filled by the access chart. While I have no information that the folks at Automatic that write the plugin and guide the WordPress development were motivated by the desire to get this page working properly on the iPad, that was the result.  This change coupled with some other small improvement in how the WordPress administration section works on mobile Safari have resulted in a much better experience for the iPad...
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Apple launches iPad 2, meets with heavy demand

As most people seemed to already be expecting the iPad 2 met with strong demand todays as Apple made it available to the general public.  During the day the lines in front of the company’s flagship stores all over the US grew into impressive crowds. It seems that as lines grew in front of the stores the analysts started to review their initial positions with initial weekend sales predictions moving from 600.000 to over 1 million...
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Apple has released iOS 4.3

Apple has released iOS 4.3
Apple has released the iOS 4.3 update this morning.  The new iOS version arrives a couple of days ahead of the new iPad 2 which is expected to ship with this version of the OS. The update is over 590MBs in size and may take a while to download, if you are planning on being one of the first to update your device.  On my 10 Mbit cable connection the estimated time for the download to complete is almost up to an hour and a half. The documentation displayed by iTunes when offering to download the update confirms that the iPhone 4 will get a wireless hotspot feature with support for up to 5 simultaneous connections.  This might prove to be an interesting feature for iPhone users who are planning on getting an iPad 2 as it opens the possibility of using a wi-fi only iPad to access the Internet even where no hotspots are available. UPDATE: The download just keeps getting slower and slower. Could Apple be overwhelmed by growing number of iOS devices in the wild?  The last quarter of 2010 saw over 20 million new iOS devices sold and if the pace has kept at least another 10 million may have been sold in 2011...
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iPad 2 is here and it looks great

iPad 2 is here and it looks great
Today Steve Jobs introduced the iPad 2 personally during Apple’s special media event in San Francisco. There were few surprises in the device itself, but some very interesting twists in the accessory and software arenas. The iPad 2 will be available in the US on march 11th and it will come in two colors: black and white.  In a reference to the troubles Apple seems to have thad to ship the white iPhone, Jobs emphasized that the white iPad will be shipping from day one.  The new iPad will have a faster processor (up to 2x) and much a faster graphics processor (up to 9x the current model) in addition to being thinner and lighter. Both front and rear facing cameras are present on the device and both can be used with the new built-in Face Time application.  Face Time, introduced with the iPhone 4 and also included in the 4th generation iPod Touch, allows users make visual calls. Apple is making the Face Time applications available on the Mac, increasing the number of potential users with which to connect. Among the truly impressive things in the iPad 2’s presentation was the cover that Apple introduced in order to replace the current iPad case.  The cover has magnetic hinges which not only attract the  iPad but already aligns the cover to the device ensuring the proper placement.  The cover is available in ten different colors which can be seen in the picture bellow. Just about all covers look great and the magnetic hinges are a fantastic touch as they allow the design of the device to be noticeable.  The current case does a very good job in what it’s actual goal is: to protect the device and prop it up. In the process it totally hides away all design effort that went into making the first generation iPad  a great product. While Apple did not make the new model iPad any cheaper than the previous one, it did drop the price for the existing iPad models by $100 in the US. This drop for the older generation device is probably targeting the current retail inventory. Now that would be competitors are entering the market at a higher price point than most iPad models, maintaining the price while reducing the equipment’s size and weight and adding features is again an aggressive move.  In an reference to Motorola’s Xoom tablet, Steve Jobs mentioned that currently only the most high-end of the six iPad models, has a higher price point than the competition. The release of the iPad 2 will coincide with the release with the next version of iOS: 4.3.  Apple plans to have the iPad 2, already running iOS 4.3, available in 26 countries by March 25th. With a fully refreshed iPad,  great applications,  a huge pool  of them to choose from, available at a low cost, Apple is poised to dominate the tablet market in 2011, just as it did in 2010.  ...
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Apple has sent out invitations: iPad 2 is coming…

Apple has sent out invitations: iPad 2 is coming…
Apple has sent out invitations for a media event to be held on March 2nd, at 10 AM Pacific time.  The image included in the invitation could not have made it any more clear what the event is about as you can see in the image bellow. (As if anyone was expecting something different…) The event will be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the same venue that was used for the introduction of the original iPad and several other products. For the past three months everyone has speculated on what will be the feature set of the next generation of the iPad.  With a large number of tablets coming to the market to try to get a piece of the action, speculation has always tended towards adding to the iPad some of the features that these tablets have and the iPad doesn’t.   Apple, however, is know known for producing “me too” products so while it is probable that we can all rest assured that the iPad will at least have a front facing camera for use with FaceTime, everything else is pretty much in the air. Next week the wait will be over and we will finally know what the iPad 2 will be like, but in the mean time you better prepare to hear  and read even more rumors about...
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HP TouchPad will be the first real competitor for the iPad

HP TouchPad will be the first real competitor for the iPad
Following all the live blogs coming out of HP’s webOS event one thing seems clear: the Apple integrated software+hardware model crushes the Google/Microsoft generic OS model.  HP’s tablet shows unique features such as integration with webOS phones by proximity which will set it apart from all the iPad-wannabes running Android. HP clearly did the right thing in deciding to acquire Palm to take the same approach to tablets that Apple takes with all its products.  In the TouchPad and Pre 3 devices shown today HP scored points for its platform and helped Apple drive another nail in the coffin of the companies that pursue the generic OS approach to mobile devices: Google and Microsoft on the software side of things and all the phone manufacturers that are betting on them. While some information such as pricing and and battery life will be very important in determining the viability of HP’s products in the market, the design and functionality seem to be headed in the right direction.  The projected availability for the TouchPad is vague, being mentioned as in the Summer.  This will give Apple a lot of time to get the iPad 2 widely distributed and talked about before any HP hardware can get into the hands of customers.  It’s also interesting to note that while HP’s products seem to show a level of attention to detail and hardware/software integration which will probably set it apart and above the Android mob, HP hasn’t really shown any major features or capabilities which would definitely position the TouchPad ahead of what is expected for the iPad 2. Perhaps HP will still talk about pricing and battery as the event is not over yet. So far, these are the big question marks… UPDATE: The event is over.  The big news at the end was the announcement that HP will be introducing desktop and notebooks PCs powered by...
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Much rumored The Daily iPad-only newspaper is confirmed

James Murdoch, head of News Corp.’s operations in Europe and Asia, confirmed that the iPad based digital newspaper should be available sometime in February.   A lot of rumors and speculation have been going around this subject over the past two months but it seems that it is now official. The newspaper will be available in subscription form for 99 cents per week. It will be interesting to see just how well iPad users will receive this initiative.  In order for the Daily to succeed it will depend heavily not only on having good content but on having a good app implementation which makes it enjoyable to use/read. (via...
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App Store reaches 10 Billion downloads

This Saturday morning, January 22nd, Apple’s App Store reached the incredible number of 10 billion downloads.  A year ago Apple announced that it had reached the 3 billion downloads mark.  Within this single year the number of downloads grew at an amazing rate. On January 14th, Apple offered a U$ 10,000.00 prize for the person responsible for the 10 billionth download.  This morning the company published a message informing that the mark had been reached and that they will be announcing he winner of the prize.
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Apple sold over 14 million iPads in 2010

Apple reported sales of  7.3 million iPads in the last quarter of calendar year 2010, corresponding to the company’s first quarter in the 2011 fiscal year.  If you add this number to the 7.5 million iPads the company had sold in the previous two quarters you get an astounding 14.8 million iPads sold in just 9 months. This number easily exceeds the 13.5 million of the highest analyst predictions for iPad sales in 2010.  Most analysts had been pointing towards 6 to 8 million units sold in 2010, until Apple announced that it had already sold 7.5 million units in the first two quarters of sales.  During this quarter the iPad outpaced the Mac by far in units sold and represented a business of about 4.6 billion dollars for the company.  The Mac represents a larger share of Apple’s revenue as the average sales price for notebooks and desktops is much higher than that of the iPad. While the Mac sales have been growing continuously for the past 19 quarters, sales of the iPad are growing way faster. It seems clear that iPad derived revenues will exceed those generated by regular computers in...
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