16 October 2009

Apple Tablet: Kindle Killer?

Back in August, I mentioned the rumor of a new Apple tablet. The rumor keeps gaining steam, to the point that it's a pretty sure bet the product will be in-market in 2010. The latest plot twist? A subtle and likely profound change in Apple's App Store policy to enable free iPhone apps to sell added content from within the app.

Until now, apps were either free or paid. The new policy allows, say, a publisher to provide a free version of its content, with integrated options to access premium, pay-to-access content or utility. This model has performed well online for a variety of services... LinkedIn comes to mind as a good example.

The idea of in-app commerce for the iPhone, though, was until now only kosher to the Apple powers on high if the app charged up-front. Under the new rules, though, content providers can give away the app and sell stuff later from within it. This free-now-pay-later model could, and will, be applied by newspapers looking for new revenue streams. It might also be an avenue for monetization and consumption of other content, too.

One new idea? How about a digital video service? Blog commentary, reviews, entertainment news & gossip, short clips, and even some short or older feature length films could be available free, with click thru to rental or purchase of recent releases or premium content. The same could be done for music.

To add some spice to the ideation, what about using crowd-sourcing and user feedback to determine prices in an open commodity exchange valuing the particular content? This idea could provide impetus to try stuff early, when cheap. Heck, the best of the bunch might even enjoy rapid word of mouth awareness builds as folks clue in friends to great and still inexpensive films and tunes.

Which brings us to the subject of the Kindle. Anybody out there, even the most die-hard Kindlefreak, imagine that it can enable the kind of interactive experience a scaled up, iPhone-on-steroids Apple tablet could? Didn't think so. The two devices will remain distinct, in price and in functionality. Apple's new thing will probably out-do the Kindle at its own game - books, magazines, newspapers - but users will pay three times the price to get the experience. For folks who simply want to read, Kindles might be hunky-dory fine. But, for more fun, more sizzle, more pizzazz, Apple will likely entice a good number of potential Kindle customers to trade up.

Time will tell how this plays out. Microsoft is working on new tablet products, too. And, of course, the publishers of the world are all hoping someone creates a viable hardware foundation for consumption of their content... Preferably before the newspapers of the world are all bankrupt!

14 October 2009

Blackberry Props

OK, so y'all know I'm a fan of Palm and the Pre... but props where due to the folks at RIM, makers of the Blackberry. Why? Because, even after a big pre-launch build-up, the Pre is still just a fringe player in mobile phones while the Blackberry is making significant strides into the consumer market.

There's no mistaking that Apple's iPhone is still a highly coveted device, but the hordes of Crackberry fans have given their device of choice remarkable staying power. And, if the new ad campaign from RIM succeeds, maybe just maybe consumers may actually think the firm's devices are cool.