Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Morning Brief: Economy slows both in US and UK as the cult-of-austerity takes hold; Kobo to go the HTML5 route

Major thunderstorms, power surges and outages are making life a bit more interesting here in the Midwest. Not that we need life to more interesting seeing as events seem to be reaching a crescendo in Washington.

Stock futures this morning fell following news that durable goods sales declined. No surprise since consumer demand remains weak because, you know, cutting back is the new growth strategy.
In the U.K., Labour is on the warpath following news the economy had grown only 0.2% in the spring, and only 0.7% over the past 12 months.

"The economy has effectively flatlined for nine months and this is very bad news for jobs, living standards, business investment and for getting the deficit down," said Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, according to The Guardian.

"Every other major economy in the world has faced challenges like high world oil prices but their economies have continued to recover while Britain has barely grown at all over the last nine months." Well, every major economy except the U.S.

Geez, there go the lights again.

The addition of Nook and Kindle editions to iOS devices presents an interesting dilemma for publishers. Developing a Kindle edition usually means assuming that the end product will be read on a Kindle, with any additional readership elsewhere a bonus.

But for publishers looking to make their two editions more alike this will present a problem of creating a consistent presentation.

Then again, the opposite view has just as much validity: while there are readers eager to view a magazine in what might be called a native iOS format, there are others just as interested in a more book-like experience.

Kobo said yesterday that it is developing an HTML5 web app specifically designed to service iOS users.

The press release calls Kobo "a global leader" in eReading because it has 4 million users. But clearly they are not going to get Apple's attention at those numbers, not to mention the reader has been tied somewhat to Borders, the now bankrupt book retailer in the middle of liquidating. Further, how many of those readers are using the Kobo app on an iOS device versus a Kobo device itself?

The situation, therefore, is pretty dire for Kobo, and with Apple insisting that any in-app purchases go through their system it means that Kobo must either comply or find a way to go around the Apple store. And so we have another HTML5 advocate.

Kobo believes in providing an open platform for users, and our HTML5 development will support the company's current app strategy to reach a broader base of users worldwide," said Michael Serbinis, Kobo's CEO. "HTML5 allows us to add more features and update our popular Reading Life social experience far more quickly, providing an agile method to deliver advanced enhancements to consumers without limitation."

Another argument for "open". But do customers really like "open", or do they like "it just works"?

Man, the power supply is making strange noises. I think this post is over.