Navigating the Mobile Landscape: Ecosystems #2

In the Navigating the Mobile Landscape: Ecosystems #1 article we’ve been talking about why Ecosystems and mobile devices.  The big question that many of you are probably asking is, “ok… so what’s the big deal?  Why do I care about this? What differences does it make if my gadget of choice is part of any kind of an ecosystem?” It’s a good question.  And actually, it’s something that I know many pundits and marketing mavens have been tossing around. Most people, the pundits and mavens included, don’t completely get it.

Let’s break it all down…

Why an Ecosystem Matters at All
Mobile devices that do nothing more than PIM and Sync Services are equivalent to PDA’s of unconnected times past (think back to 2002-2005 and Compaq/HP’s iPAQ line of personal organizers) or are equivalent to one of RIM’s various Blackberries.  While that may not be too bad in some people’s eyes, think about the issues that are currently plaguing RIM, connectivity and outdated architecture aside.

As you may recall, we briefly touched on an ecosystem containing the following:

  1. PIM,
  2. Sync Services
  3. Purchasing Options & Methods for
  • Multimedia Content

– Music,
– Movies,
– TV Shows, etc.

  • Apps
  • eBooks
  • Pictures
  • etc.,

While the PIM and Sync Services are common to all mobile devices today, let’s consider the Apple model again, as we examine the above list.  What’s common to everything in that list..?  Simply put – iTunes.

iTunes manages the PIM data and sync services. It provides a purchasing and organization method for all consumer content. Apple also provides tools to help developers create content and register it with iTunes so it can be sold. This ecosystem is so simple to work with many developers can top 6-figure revenue marks in under 12 months, given the right product subject matter and type. This “no-brainer” product development model saw many developers leaving other, well established SDK’s for iOS development over the past few years.

But that’s been Apple’s model – build the complete solution, for consumers as well as developers – make it easy for them to live within the defined boundaries [of the ecosystem] and they will come. As I mentioned before, this is where the real money is, not in the hardware. Compatible hardware is simply enables the sale of consumer content.

What Amazon Did
Amazon did something similar, but they are trying to emulate, to an extent, what Apple has created by plugging the holes Google left in the ecosystem they created.  Google has the PIM and Sync Services; but doesn’t really have a trusted way to sell consumer content.  Amazon has had a way to sell music for years.  They have recently created a way to sell Android Apps. They’ve recently created a way to provide streaming movies and TV shows (via Amazon Prime). Their Kindle software provides a way to read and purchase eBooks.

I’ve been saying this for years – Amazon should concentrate on the sale of consumer content, not on selling hardware – to make their mark.  They actually did better than that, as the Kindle Fire is now poised to take the number 2 sales spot in the tablet market, but NOT because of the hardware. The Kindle Fire may take that spot due to the hardware sales, but it’s got the sales because of the kinds of content it supports, and what users can do with the device.

What Google Didn’t Do
Google may have a flagship phone in the Galaxy Nexus, but Samsung controls it; and they haven’t really enabled the new OS to do anything more than any other Android smartphone. Google doesn’t want to provide any type of specific experience, or control how you experience Android. They’ve built openness into the platform and have only recently chosen to address some of the holes with updates to Google Books, Google Music, etc.

What they haven’t done, though, is truly created the framework of the ecosystem for all of the OEM’s making and selling hardware. As such, there are a number of different launchers, like TouchWiz from Samsung and SenseUI from HTC. There are a number of different Android builds built into a number of different formats from tablets to smartphones to e-readers. The level of fragmentation that they have allowed by permitting OEM’s to choose from 5 different OS revisions (Éclair, FroYo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich) and their acknowledgement of their lack of revision control is staggering. By permitting 5 different OS revisions to be actively used at the same time, creates a great deal of variation and compatibility issues with applications in the Android Market.

While they may have the lion share of the handheld market, Google’s Android is floundering, struggling for direction. It needs Google to step up and define that direction in order to bring solidity and stability to the platform. If they truly want to beat Apple at their own game, this is what they need to do. Period.

Come back next time, and we’ll try to figure out where the heck Microsoft is in all of this.

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ABBY FineReader 11 is the next generation of optical character recognition software

ABBYY FineReader is an optical character recognition software that is able to scan documents and readily converting images of documents such as scans, photographs, and PDF files into editable and searchable electronic formats. It’s the best alternative to manual retyping, because its text recognition system delivers precision accuracy in converting almost any type of printed document including books, magazine articles with complex layouts, tables and spreadsheets, and even faxes.

FineReader 11 brings the OCR technology to a new level due to a new black-and-white mode that increases document processing speed up to 45 percent. To streamline document conversion processes, FineReader further improves its unique capability to reconstruct native formatting of multi-page documents and also supports easy creation of electronic books in the most popular formats.

In addition to Microsoft Word documents, ABBYY FineReader 11 now adds support for OpenOffice.org Writer (ODT) files. When saving to PDF, the application intelligently identifies and reproduces the document’s content outline bookmarks with live links for better navigation and reading.

The new version delivers significant improvements in the detection of vertical headers, as well as margin notes, diagrams, tables, and styles, minimizing the effort typically required for manual correction. A new feature allows users to convert paper documents and images of text to a variety of formats supported by e-book readers, tablet PCs and smartphones, including the newly added Electronic Publication (.ePub) and FictionBook (.fb2) formats. Additionally, texts converted with ABBYY FineReader 11 can be sent directly to the users of Amazon Kindle account.

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Sigil the e-book publisher

Nowadays writing a novel demands your artistic skills, and some basic electronic equipment to type its content. But there is always a financial problem when it comes to publishing your product. The easiest way is to digitally publish your book with the help of an online distributor (ex.: Lulu) which requires no additional fees in case your book meets all the requirements.

The main problem with such services is that they require you to have your finished work edited in EPUB format. In case you have used other formats (.doc or .pdf., etc) you can pay a fee in order to have your novel transcribed into this format. But what if you can do this all by yourself without paying anything.

Sigil is an open-source application that can perform this operation for free. With a WYSIWYG interface and a XHTML Code View module, this application offers basic formatting control that ensures your product to work properly on any device will be viewed. This means that operations like formatting text or importing images are easy tasks to be performed by any user.

Sigil is available as a release candidate version for Windows, Mac and Linux users and the owner is ready to pass the project to any other volunteer. For more info visit http://sigildev.blogspot.com/2011/06/new-maintainer-needed.html.

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Kobo comes with a minimal interface based on a Mac like design with a simple an clean menu on the left. From the menu you can view the content of your library and store, and your account info. Each ebook will be opened in a separate window which features its own menu. This menu is dynamic and can be hidden any time in order not to disturb your reading session. But in case you want to browse the book’s chapters, or view the book’s content, you can bring the command menu in front by a simple click. For the perfect reading experience you can choose the full-screen mode.

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