Publish or Perish (and Amazon vs Apple)

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    Posted: 22 April 2010 12:46 AM

    There’s a lengthy article in the New Yorker by Ken Auletta (HERE - there are 6 pages) that talks about the iPad from the publishers’ standpoint, and also about the publishers themselves. Apparently, Apple and Steve Jobs have been playing an unlikely role of a white knight for the industry that felt bullied by Amazon.

    Some quotes:

    ?Amazon forced us,? one publisher said. ?They chose to do something irrational?lose money?in order to gain a monopoly. That was destructive to publishers and retailers and authors. They brought this on themselves.?

    Publishing exists in a continual state of forecasting its own demise; at one major house, there is a running joke that the second book published on the Gutenberg press was about the death of the publishing business.

    Tim O?Reilly, the founder and C.E.O. of O?Reilly Media, which publishes about two hundred e-books per year, thinks that the old publishers? model is fundamentally flawed. ?They think their customer is the bookstore,? he says. ?Publishers never built the infrastructure to respond to customers.? Without bookstores, it would take years for publishers to learn how to sell books directly to consumers. They do no market research, have little data on their customers, and have no experience in direct retailing. With the possible exception of Harlequin Romance and Penguin paperbacks, readers have no particular association with any given publisher; in books, the author is the brand name.

    Finally, on the last page, a few notes about Steve Jobs:

    ?Ultimately, Apple is in the device?not the content?business,? the Apple insider said. ?Steve Jobs wants to make sure content people are his partner. Steve is in the I win/you win school. Jeff Bezos is in the I win/you lose school.? Jobs recently met separately with New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Time Inc. executives to demonstrate the iPad?s potential to make money for newspapers and magazines. Jobs, who had a liver transplant last year and has battled pancreatic cancer, has begun to think about his legacy, the insider said. ?He?s in a hurry to create in the next two years what he may have been thinking about in the next ten years. What keeps him going is his vision. Nothing is going to stop him, except death.? The insider said that Jobs was pleased with his advocacy of publishers: ?He feels like he?s their champion.?

    For the moment, Jobs is the publishers? best ally. ?Steve is very proud that Macmillan put a gun to Amazon?s head,? the insider said. But in the long term Apple and Google will not necessarily be better partners than Amazon.
    ...
    One publisher said, ?Maybe Apple will want to come back in a year and bite our heads off.?

    All in all, this is playing out very well for Apple thus far.

         
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    Posted: 22 April 2010 02:00 AM #1

    I was immensely surprised yesterday in the conference call that Apple said that before this year was out they would announce a number of new products (or something to that effect). Maybe Steve Jobs clearly sees that his days are numbered and he’d better get done what he needs to get done while he’s here to do them.

    Yet it takes years to develop new products and it’s never clear what the winners will be (see Apple TV) so progress can be made only so fast. Nonetheless, why so much new so quickly? Time will tell.

         
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    Posted: 22 April 2010 02:18 AM #2

    iBob - 22 April 2010 05:00 AM

    I was immensely surprised yesterday in the conference call that Apple said that before this year was out they would announce a number of new products (or something to that effect). Maybe Steve Jobs clearly sees that his days are numbered and he’d better get done what he needs to get done while he’s here to do them.

    Yet it takes years to develop new products and it’s never clear what the winners will be (see Apple TV) so progress can be made only so fast. Nonetheless, why so much new so quickly? Time will tell.

    I took that line on the call yesterday to mean new products, but not new product lines. Let’s see what’s left (after the Macbook upgrades) - there’s an iPhone upgrade, possible Apple TV upgrade, and a whole bunch of iPod upgrades. Maybe a CDMA iPhone for Verizon, and maybe - though unlikely in my opinion - a 2nd iPhone model. On the software side, the’re busy with iPhone 4.0, and then its iteration for the iPad. Obviously working on the next iPad as well.

    I’m wishing Steve all the best with his health, but hoping that his energetic push has less to do with specific health problems, and more to do with the fact that right now, more than ever, his brainchild is on the verge of completely changing a number of markets (or changing our lives, as he probably thinks of it) - and it takes time as you say, so he’s anxious to get there soon.

    Steve is 55 now. It took 10 years from his return to Apple until the first iPhone was introduced and changed the phone industry. It had taken 9 years (from 1975 to 1984) to produce the Macintosh and change the personal computer industry. It took maybe 5 years to dominate the mp3 market with the iPod, but that’s a much smaller market. It’s taken 25 years of a mouse-and-keyboard interface to prime us for multi-touch on the iPhone and the iPad. And it’s been over 550 years since the last major revolution in the publishing industry (Gutenberg’s press in the 1450’s). The next 10 years will be crucial, and I think Steve sees that his potential to change the world is stronger than ever.

         
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    Posted: 22 April 2010 03:24 AM #3

    Roman - 22 April 2010 05:18 AM

    I took that line on the call yesterday to mean new products, but not new product lines.

    In the past few conference calls, that language is almost a STANDARD insert, I would put ZERO credence in that meaning anything more than normal release of product upgrades and improvements.

    I have heard them say substantially the same thing more often than not.

    It is vague enough to add excitement, without ACTUALLY PROMISING anything.

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    Posted: 22 April 2010 04:02 AM #4

    TanToday - 22 April 2010 06:24 AM
    Roman - 22 April 2010 05:18 AM

    I took that line on the call yesterday to mean new products, but not new product lines.

    In the past few conference calls, that language is almost a STANDARD insert, I would put ZERO credence in that meaning anything more than normal release of product upgrades and improvements.

    I have heard them say substantially the same thing more often than not.

    It is vague enough to add excitement, without ACTUALLY PROMISING anything.

    I’m about to make the same comment.

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    Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.  - Steve Jobs

         
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    Posted: 22 April 2010 04:10 AM #5

    Mace and Tan - that was (partly) my point in response to iBob. I don’t expect any new product lines this year, only existing product upgrades.

    The other part has more to do with the tipping point that I see in Apple’s platform development today, and how this development relates to Steve’s goals in life and with Apple. Part of the language in the article suggests that he may be in hurry to put his ideas into life, but I don’t think the execution has been rushed at all. Anything but, if the iPad genesis is any indication.

         
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    Posted: 22 April 2010 12:30 PM #6

    I also sense that this is not a time of rush to completion of new projects so much as it is a time when so many things are falling into place. Apple has the ball and it’s time to run the length of a field. I see a couple of places where life experiences could be cleaned up by the application of Apple products. An Apple television/internet system in the living room with quick access to movies, and TV programs without commercials - all for a small usage fee and charged for monthly, including usage of the internet connection.

    In retail sales a device would be useful to capture a sale quickly while a decision is hot, before it fizzles. This may mean that a customer pays for his merchandise himself via a unit that establishes identity and credit worthiness, and issues a receipt of some type.

    We need near universal connectivity. Is there a place for Apple here?

         
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    Posted: 22 April 2010 02:55 PM #7

    I like to think that a bunch of very good new products means that I will be paying good cash for one or two of these items in my once-every-three-years buying cycle.  And this is the 3rd year.  First up, an Apple Developer’s License, followed most likely by an iPad or an iPhone 4.