Friday, July 30, 2010

Short Takes: Bloomberg says RIM to launch the Blackpad in November; location aware display ads from Google

Short items of interest at the end of the week:

So much for "slates" or "tablets", it looks like Research In Motion is committed to the term "pad".

Bloomberg is reporting that the maker of the Blackberry is planning to launch a competitor to Apple's iPad in November and plans on calling it Blackpad. Of course, RIM has declined to comment on the report.

For publishers this shouldn't upset mobile plans too much. RIM's Blackberry has always been the third platform to consider behind Apple's iOS and Google's Android, though if an Android tablet does not appear this Fall it could help push up the importance of RIM's platform.

One part of Bloomberg's report that seems a little off, however. According to the story, RIM will price their own tablet at the same level as the iPad, starting at $499. Unless they plan to offer 3G at that price (they might) I would think this is a tad high. But then again, early rumors of Apple's tablet said prices would start around $1000.

Damn, paidContent never used to beat me to an app story. But hats off to 'em for catching this one.

David Kaplan over at reports on the enhanced e-book from Scribner and Simon & Schuster Digital. The book, Nixonland, features 27 videos from CBS inserted into the ext, as well as an interview with the former president by from Face the Nation anchor Bob Schieffer.

If you recall, Penguin Group's CEO John Makinson said that the publisher would avoid the limitations of the e-Pub format by building their own iPad apps for their titles. Where are they on this?

In any case, if you want to be promoted in Apple's iBookstore having an enhanced book is a good idea. In fact, when you first open up iBooks today on your iPad what do you see? Nixonland, of course.

TechCrunch has two interesting stories centered around location information. The first involves Google's introduction of location-aware mobile advertising.

Advertisers will be able to check a “location extension for display” box and their ads will become geo-enabled when viewed in mobile browsers or apps. A little double-arrow will open up the ad and show the business pinned on map with two big blue buttons to get directions or call the business. Google will only charge for calls or clicks.

The second story looks back at Apple's move to free itself from both Google and Skyhook for location database services. In turns out that Apple has already accomplished that goal as of the release of iPhone OS 3.2, using their own databases for location-based information.

Their quote from Skyhook, though, was the winner: “everyone who has a platform wants to own as much of the location stack as possible. Location data is going the be huge and owning it is going to be the next big war in mobile.“

I'm still not sure many mobile firms know how to use location aware elements in their mobile app -- probably because so few are developing their own apps. Some developers, like DoApp, have built in traffic maps for local media news app, but this is just one way to implement this (and that solution simply incorporates Google Maps).

One thing newspapers in particular should be worried about is location-based advertising inside mobile apps. The potential for advertisers is huge, and unless news apps begin to explore location-based advertising, the field will be completely left to the new companies coming into the market.

I posted the thought months ago that the summer would be a pretty dead time for new iPad news apps. The reason was that some companies pushed hard to become first movers back at the launch in April, while those waiting would probably need the summer to play catch up.
But this hasn't true for European and Asian media companies. The developer Solutionit has launched iPad apps for Le Soir and La Libre just this past week. Abhav LLC has developed iPad and iPhone apps for New Indian Express, Malaysian News and others, as well.

In fact, while very few U.S. media companies have launched new apps, the U.S. iTunes store has become an international news center as media firms from abroad rush to launch their apps, often in response to the introduction of the iPad in their country.