The iPad & co. mean business

The digital revolution of the past two decades, jump started by the arrival of the internet, has had an undeniably substantial impact on the way business is conducted around the world; In many cases it’s changed it entirely, while in others obliterated it as a whole. But even before the long gone days of dial up the office space has been subject to a continual state of flux in line with that of technology’s progress. Unsurprisingly, the latest of these shifts comes in the form of the tablet.

But more specifically, in the form of the iPad – well, if you believe Apple’s CEO that is. Tim Cook, the man in question, recently declared with much aplomb that despite the growing number of competitors their device was currently being tested or deployed by 92% of the Fortune 500 companies. That’s 460 of the biggest companies in the United States potentially backing the Apple model over and above the competition. A bold statement, to say the least.

But whether Apple’s boasting is to be taken seriously or not the clear message from their declaration is that the biggest and the best corporations have decided that the tablet is here to stay, having already, after just 3 years since its arrival, cemented its place as a business tool.

Foreseeing this turn of events some time ago we set about creating an app model that would properly equip businesses with the tools they’d need to make the tablet integration as smooth and seamless as possible. The result is our Enterprise and Closed Access app solution, which provides companies with a perfect way of securely distributing internal communications such as sales materials, training guides, newsletters or marketing collateral. The closed access option allows for an additional level of security, ensuring that employees enter their credentials before having access to any of the content available to them. And on the more technical side, rest assured as we use HTTPS encrypted URLs to deliver downloaded content, as well as employing Digital Right’s Management (DRM) systems across our cloud publishing platform to control access depending on individual employees’ clearance levels.

With all the usual YUDU benefits in place as well, such as  up to date version control through the self-publishing portal or rich media and interactivity enhancements, the Enterprise and Closed Access app model can be the perfect way to incorporate tablet devices into the day to day running of your business, for added efficiency, ensured accuracy and the highest security.

For more information, a free preview or a quote please get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

The iPad gets even bigger – 128gb model announced

It’s almost three years to the day that Steve Jobs took the stage for his Keynote speech that first unveiled the iPad, thus changing the world forever! Well, the world of personal computing at least. No one can deny the significance of that announcement, but last night’s? Well, not so earth shattering, as Apple added a 128gb version of the device to its range.

The new model is otherwise identical to the fourth generation iPad that was launched in October 2012, which in itself only significantly differed from the third generation New iPad in the introduction of Apple’s controversial lightening connector.

The technology giant has stated that the move to increase storage space is in response to user habits, claiming that the device is now being used more regularly for business, particularly for tasks involving increasingly larger file sizes such as HD video, 3D renders or movie editing. However, the news comes just days after Microsoft unveiled its own plans to launch a 128gb version of its Surface Pro tablet, leading to internet speculation that Apple’s latest move is more reactionary to Microsoft’s than they’d like to admit – all to ensure its platform continues to dominate the market.

In an interesting twist of events, it’s since been released that only 83gb of the Surface Pro’s 128gb model will actually be ‘useable’, as where it’s expected that around 114gb of the new iPad model’s will be accessible. You have to give it to Microsoft for trying, but If this is the case, then it might just be checkmate to Apple yet again.

Which tablets are in which classrooms?

We recently wrote a blog post about the BYOD trend, that is hitting schools all over the globe, with governments and local authorities noting its benefits. Rather than tablets being locked away at home, students are being encouraged to bring their own device into the classroom. For publishers, this means publishing textbooks onto a number of platforms – which is one of the main benefits of using YUDU Education. If schools in your country are going down the BYOD route, or even if governments are issuing class sets, an understanding of how each tablet is entering the education market is key.

Apple’s iPad

Apple kicked off last term by offering students money off apps, in return for purchasing Macs and iPads. The development of iBooks Author is an affirmation of their investment in the education space, with key features of the software working specifically on creating interactive textbooks. The interactive books are stunning and provide something that printed books just can’t compete with.

Not forgetting the new iPad Mini, which is now a cheaper alternative for the classroom and Apple executives were keen to focus on this benefit, at the launch event last month.

Android tablets (including Google’s Nexus 7)

The main advantage here is price. You can purchase a 10-inch Android tablet for under £200, plus the Google Play Store offers a good selection of educational apps. Schools can also create their own apps for Android and these can be integrated into the rest of the school system, much more easily than could be achieved with an iPad.

Amazon’s Kindle

Amazon have been selling Kindle devices into schools in the U.S at bulk discounts. Trials have been running in over 100 schools in Florida and Texas and this is due to expand into other states and countries shortly.

The main game changer has been the introduction of Whispercast, which allows schools to buy and distribute their textbooks, to Kindles over a wireless internet connection. It also allows them to block certain Kindles from accessing the Web and can prevent certain students from making purchases – an ideal solution for the classroom.

Microsoft Surface

It’s too early to really assess the advantages of the newest release from Microsoft. However, our initial impression is that it’s highlights include:

  • Support for Microsoft Office (standard in most schools and familiar to students)
  • Enterprise management solutions which offer security for schools
  • Detachable keyboard for development of keyboarding skills

We would be really interested to know of your experience of working with schools in your country. What devices are being used? How do you deal with publishing to new devices?

If you are interested to know more about the YUDU Education product, there is a two minute video here.

Alternatively, you can email education@yudu.com for further details.

Cunard Case Study

With over 10,000 app downloads to date as well as a high 51% opt-in registration rate the Cunard app has been phenomenally successful and they will will soon expand the from brochure to include its quarterly  Cunarder magazine.  This will allow Cunard to directly link all relevant content on its website and social media sites to create an even smoother user journey.

The full case study can be read here or for iPad users via the YUDU app.


Come and visit us at LBF 2012, Earl’s Court, 16th – 18th April

Next week we will be at the London Bookfair from monday  16th until wednesday 18th April in the digital zone, stand X970. Don’t miss our CEO Richard Stephenson, giving a talk entitled: ‘Thinking outside the Book – how to make money from books online‘. It will take place on wednesday 18th April from 12.30 – 12.50.

Before that, on sunday 15th April we will be in attendence and sponsoring the Digital Minds conference which takes place at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster.

We would love to meet up with industry colleagues and make new acquaintances so please stop by and say hi, have a chat, collect some leaflets and our lovely YUDU bookmarks.

We will be showcasing our latest children’s e-book offerings and testing how well the microbookstore concept gets adopted, especially in the glow the latest chapter of the agency model saga.

 

YUDU Premier Publishing Platform

YUDU’s Premier Publishing Platform: Cloud Publishing to Apps and the Web – Taking the complexity out of publishing to multiple platforms 

 

 

1. Upload your assets: magazines, brochures, books, catalogs, videos.

 

 

2. Enhance with YUDU Premier Tools: enhance your publications with videos, html 5, audio and image galleries.

 

3. Publish to Multiple Platforms: No need to re-purpose any content, simply select the platforms you want to publish to and the YUDU system does all the work.

 

 

 

The YUDU Premier publishing platform places our customers in complete control to publish content to the Web and directly into branded apps across multiple platforms. With major releases every quarter we are continuously investing in development to produce the very best solutions for an ever changing world of publishing.

 

The New iPad and Retina Display Reading

 

Yesterday, as expected in San Francisco, Apple unveiled the heavily rumoured iPad 3 (and called it the new iPad just to confuse us when technical blogging)! With this device, Apple have massively increased the resolution of the device to quadruple its predecessors (double the resolution in width and height). So what does this mean for apps involving reading (like YUDU’s technology)?

Firstly, all existing apps will work just fine without any changes – we’re not dealing with the same kind of upgrade we saw when the iPhone 4 first came out, but the increase in clarity is astonishing for new iPad owners (of which there will be millions this quarter).

This affects reading apps (particularly apps dealing with high fidelity print layouts for magazines and catalogs like ours), not to mention fixed layout rich books on the iBookstore in a very positive way – it reduces, and in some cases, eliminates the need to zoom to read pages, making the reading experience effortless.

Publishers have had a hard time with the iPad historically – their customers demand content on the device, but do they completely redesign their entire magazine or catalog for reading on a low resolution small screen (at their own cost, which is very high in some cases), hoping that they’ll get a good amount of new customers on the iPad, or do they allow for simple, quick consumption with the existing print based layouts (which have been refined over many years for readability in print).

We serve both choices equally well, processing the high quality print assets for you, but with this upgrade, the screen now gives the reader four times as much detail without zooming into the page at all, which really helps the publisher.

Of course, this is only one of two reasons to zoom – the need to see more detail due to the screen’s resolution being low (compared with print). The other case is still necessary (seeing a bigger physical rendering of part of a page) due to eyesight issues or the font size from the publisher still being too small despite the device being able to display it clearly.

If you’re an existing customer, we’re upgrading all existing apps with HD content for you, so no need to worry, and if you haven’t yet decided to create an app for your titles, why not give us a call and see how good your pages look on the new iPad?


The Dizzying Rise of Tablet Computing

A new report from Cisco underlines the staggering pace at which the world is adopting tablets and mobile computing. Some highlights:

  • The number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world’s population in 2012.
  • Smartphones, laptops and other portable devices will drive about 90 percent of global mobile data traffic by 2016.
  • Last year’s mobile data traffic was eight times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000.
  • By 2016, mobile-connected tablets will generate almost as much traffic as the entire global mobile network does in 2012.

Apple’s last quarterly results illustrate the same trend, with iPad sales going stratospheric:

The iPad 3 is rumoured for release on March 7th and will push tablet sales further; based on estimates from screen suppliers it could hit shipment figures of 65-70 million, a big jump even on the phenomenally successful iPad 2.

As tablets and smartphones become more widespread, they also get used more and for a wider range of purposes. The projected rate of increase of data usage in Cisco’s report is just as precipitous:

If you don’t recognise the term ‘exabyte’, it denotes a billion gigabytes. It took until 2004 for the entire internet to reach a monthly data traffic rate of 1 exabyte.

Windows 8 launches this year and there are good reasons to think it may be a strong competitor to Apple, more than Android devices have so far managed. As the biggest OS in the world is updated with a focus on tablet computing, including bringing Office and other productivity apps to a space that so far has been mainly concerned with content consumption, expect another surge in tablet adoption.

More illustrations of the speed of growth of tablet computing:

As the analysts at TechCrunch put it:

If you’re working on anything in the mobile space and have put off addressing how you’ll meet the needs of the tablet user, you’re already behind. And it goes without saying that if you’re building for the web and haven’t addressed mobile, you’re basically just lost.

And that goes doubly for content providers!


What Apple’s textbook vision means for publishers

In New York yesterday Apple announced their big play for the textbook market. It consists of three elements: a new iBooks Author tool, an update to the iBooks app, and an update to the iTunes University app.

iBooks Author

This is a completely new app for Mac OS, with a fair number of similarities with Apple’s KeyNote app for building presentations. It’s clearly designed with simplicity of use in mind, and allows users to build well presented books in a simple way. The focus of the announcement was on textbooks but the app can clearly be used for other types of content as well.

Content created with this tool can only be consumed through the iBooks app on an iPad or other iOS device, although it also provides the option to export to PDF (losing any interactive features) or to plain text (losing everything but the unformatted text).

iBooks

The existing iBooks app is updated to support books produced by the iBooks Author tool, which can include interactive diagrams and custom HTML widgets; also user-generated notes and highlights which can be synced through iCloud and exported as flashcards. There’s also a new section of the store dedicated to textbooks.

iTunes U

Another update to an existing app, the updated iTunes U expands the media types that can be bundled as a course, supports progress tracking, and allows the course creator to send notifications to students using the course.

Currently all content is free, although Apple haven’t given any guarantees that it’ll remain that way.

Apple’s vision

It’s easy to see how Apple intends this set of apps to be used. The Author tool will make it easier for a much wider group of people to create textbook content, making iBooks a key resource for students. Educators can assemble their course materials through iTunes U, including links to required textbooks in iBooks. A generation of students – and the institutions educating them – suddenly find that an iPad is an essential study tool. And anyone who wants to create that content will need a desktop or laptop Mac to run the Author tool as well as an iPad or other Apple mobile device to test it on.

The huge potential upside for Apple here is the boost this could give to hardware sales; if their strategy takes off, that will be vastly greater than the 30% revenue cut on textbook sales through iBooks.

It’s far from certain that it will play out this way though. School administrators will baulk at providing students with iPads as standard school equipment; even at university level, few educators will want to provide course materials in a form that’s only accessible to those of their students who own Apple equipment. Factor in possible IP complications and piracy concerns and Apple have their work cut out for them.

What does this mean for publishers?

iBooks Author is not designed as a specialist tool for publishing professionals – it’s for the everyman. It’s easy to get going with it and straightforward to use. People no longer need training in specialist software tools to be able to produce great looking content; nor do they need to pay expensive licence fees. For all those reasons, Author will no doubt be a huge boon to a great many people.

However, professionals will find it frustratingly feature-light compared to existing creation tools. It’s also much more suitable for creating content from scratch than for re-purposing existing content. In any case, publishing houses are (and should be!) very reluctant to tie themselves in to a tool that restricts their content to a single distribution channel, on a single OS – particularly when that leaves them paying Apple 30% on all sales.

Textbook publishers will doubtless experiment with putting their content on iBooks, but will be wary of lock-in; even Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, one of Apple’s launch partners for the new apps, was quoted in the press emphasising the need to not restrict their content just to the iPad. As with magazines and other print content, the suspicion is that Apple’s game plan leaves them as the sole point of contact between authors and consumers, gradually marginalising publishers.

And with the Author tool, Apple don’t need to rely on the big publishers to fill iBooks and iTunes U with content; they’re hoping that individuals and small-scale content creators will swarm to the new tools. Many of those creators have previously been barred from publishing by the cost, and will be delighted to get their content out to the public at all; they’ll care much less that it’s only available through Apple’s ecosystem.

So where does that leave publishers? While these tools are focused on the textbook market, the same question applies more widely, to any publishers of books with richly formatted content: childrens’ books, cookery books, coffee-table picture books, and many more. They need to be able to deliver cross-platform; they need to be able to stand out from what may be a sudden influx of self-published content; they need their content to be easily discoverable by users who may not be searching for their brand specifically. They need to be able to charge for their content. They want a workflow that fits well with existing print workflows. And they need to not end up producing each publication repeatedly, once for each of the many formats and distribution channels now available.

For the serious players, this makes apps a still more appealing option, particularly if the app can be rolled out across multiple platforms. In the absence of any clearly dominant textbook platform on Android, the app route can provide consistency of experience across platforms and a lasting channel of communication with users. There are ways to publish to apps that avoid Apple’s 30% revenue cut (such as Yudu’s dual subscription system :-)). The app needs to be easily discoverable, but publishers have the marketing clout to achieve that, through tie-ins to print products or direct targeting of relevant educators. Since iTunes U courses can link to iOS apps, publishers can even get users through Apple’s eco-system without getting locked into it.

Apple’s announcement is great news for students and consumers, and will allow many more people to produce and consume digital content. It will further boost tablet ownership (already in rude health!) and ups the standards for what a digital book should be able to do. However, it should be a danger sign to publishers – if they stay still they’ll find they get increasingly squeezed out. The big winners will be those who can rise to Apple’s challenge and succeed in innovating aggressively with their digital strategy – while managing to achieve a good return on that investment.

YUDU app downloads jump by 94% post Christmas

It happens every year when all those shiny new iPads get unwrapped. This year in the week following Christmas downloads of Apps created using the YUDU platform increased by over 94% and it looks like this is holding steady.

Industry estimates suggest at least 4.2 million new iOS devices activated on Dec 25th alone. The combined Android and iOS activation numbers represent a 353% increase on Christmas 2010. We’ll know more when Apple reveal in January exact numbers for how many iPads have been sold, but there’s no doubt that the mobile audience is expanding at a phenomenal rate.

Looking at our own stats, downloads of the shopping catalogue apps such as Land’s End, Littlewoods and Very seem particularly strong. High up the list is Virgin Holidays which suggests it is time for planning the holiday and getting some decent weather. Sounds like a good idea….