Archives for posts with tag: smartphones

We’ve known for a while, thanks to Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, that Apple was planning something big in the book/​textbook market. Yesterday, January 19th, we found out it was iBook 2. Quoting from Apple’s oh-​so-​subtle press release entitled Apple Reinvents Textbooks with iBooks 2 for iPad, here are the key things that are part of the upgrade:

(1) iBooks textbooks, an entirely new kind of textbook that’s dynamic, engaging and truly interactive […] with support for great new features including gorgeous, fullscreen books, interactive 3D objects, diagrams, videos and photos;

(2) iBooks Author […] a free download from the Mac App Store and lets anyone with a Mac create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books and more, and publish them to Apple’s iBookstore. [You create a ibook] with Apple-​designed templates that feature a wide variety of page layouts [… and] add your own text and images by simply dragging and dropping, [… you can also] add interactive photo galleries, movies, Keynote® presentations and 3D objects.

(3) iTunes® U app [which provides students and teachers with] access to the world’s largest catalog of free educational content, along with over 20,000 education apps at their fingertips and hundreds of thousands of books in the iBookstore that can be used in their school curriculum.

At first glance, there seems to be a lot in here for advocates of self-​publishing and eReading to like. In particular, iBooks Author could be an incredibly powerful tool for getting students to engage with authorship and course material in an entirely different way — imagine every student making their own custom textbook.

However, when one digs beneath the surface a bit, iBooks Author has a few big problems. These are the two — one small and one big — that concern me…

Problem #1 — Interactivity
Kathleen Fitzpatrick notes that while iBooks make a claim of being “truly” interactive, what that really means is interactive animations…

The textbooks that can be produced with iBooks Author and read in iBooks 2 are interactive, in the sense of an individual reader being able to work with an individual text in a hands-​on fashion. They do not, however, provide for interaction amongst readers of the text, or for responses from a reader to reach the author, or, as far as I can tell so far, for connections across texts. The “book,” though multimediated, manipulable, and disembodied, is still a discrete, fairly closed object.

I would take this one step further, in that the books that I’ve seen also don’t seem to provide much connection between text and interactivity. Rather than integrating the interactivity into the content in such a way that it becomes inseparable, it largely remains there to illustrate the text. In this way, all we have is dancing baloney sort of illustration within a closed reading experience. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it isn’t a revolutionary interactive experience.

Still even if iBook Author isn’t all that interactive, the promise of providing students a tool to build their own books is a good thing… right?

Not if the book is locked down to the iOS platform.

Problem #2 — ibooks can only be read on iOS devices
The iBook format, .ida, is a proprietary build off of the industry standard .ePub format which can only be read on an iOS device. That means that a student’s work can only be viewed, as it was intended to be1 , within the iOS platform.2 “Taking home” the book you made in class to show your parents requires you to take your ipad as well.

This may not seem like a big thing — especially since we imagine that each student would have their own iPad. However, it doesn’t take much to imagine less affluent school districts where students would share iPads. Or other scenarios where school supplied iPads cannot leave the school campus. Without access to a “home” iPad, that student’s work becomes more-​or-​less inaccessible — even if the family has a computer. Further, if the student wants to share that work within her extended family, all of them need iOS devices as well.

The problem is a closed, hardware based, platforms
The fact that iBooks only work on iOS devices seems to me an exceedingly problematic development for ebooks in general.

The rational — on the surface — for going with a proprietary format, is that the current ePub standard does not currently allow for an ebook experience that meets Apple’s high standards. As someone whose struggled with the limits of ePub, I’m sympathetic to this argument. Especially, if we are talking about typographic nuances and interactive elements, by all accounts iBooks are able to do things that standard ePubs cannot do as well (if at all).

This will surely result in some beautiful ibooks.

However, if we look beyond élite publications, this slavish attention to “experience” makes less sense. Most self-​publishing authors — including students — rarely end up using many of those advanced interactive features that made it necessary to drop ePub. I expect that time will show that, outside of the typographic tweaks hard wired into Apple’s templates, the vast majority of iBooks could have been created as ePubs without sacrificing anything.

And if those books had been “born” ePub, they could have been read on just about any computer, tablet, eReader, or phone available today. Instead thy will be locked to the iOS. In this way iBooks coverts generic content into something that can only be viewed on Apple devices.

Considering that the iPad’s traces its lineage back to the iPod, whose success was based on the cross-​platform MP3 standard, there is a certain irony to this decision.

Beyond the issue of experience, there’s another compelling reason for Apple to do this. As was recently pointed out to me in an email discussion, while Apple makes a lot on content (some $1,571 million in its 2011 fourth quarter!), content only accounts for 6% of all of Apple’s revenue. Almost 70% of revenue in that same quarter came from the sale of iPods, iPhone, iPads, and their related services, carrier agreements, and accessories.

To be blunt, iBooks are about selling iOS devices, not the other way around.3

Thus, there is very little incentive for Apple to develop an iBook reader for Windows or Android, let alone for Apple lap– and desktop computers.4.

For the foreseeable future, expect iBooks to be locked to a hardware platform. And that in turn means that a lot of new, traditionally platform agnostic, content will become locked to a platform for no other reason the artificial restrictions of the platform it was authored on. While that might not seem like much, it’s a very different approach to electronic texts than we have seen up to this point.5 Granted, there have always been technological barriers to reading and writing, but I cannot think of a bigger attempt, in recent memory, to restrict mass-​market reading and writing to a single platform. It may result in a win for Apple, but I can’t help but this of it as a loss for the rest of us.

  1. Apple does provide the ability to export a platform independent PDF of an iBook. However, all of the much touted interactivity is stripped from the book. And PDF is a format that still is primarily intended for print consumption, which means that all of the screen-​reading advantages of an ebook, such as dynamic text reflow, are also lost. []
  2. Additionally, the iBooks Author EULA contains a big “catches” to the distribution of ibooks. While free ibooks can be distributed how ever the author wishes, ibooks can only be sold via the iBookstore. []
  3. see Joe Espisito’s spot on analysis for more on this []
  4. In this way Amazon has a fundamentally different reading platform strategy. While they are heavily invested in Kindle, one must understand that it’s the Kindle platform versus the hardware that Amazon really cares about. In order to reach the broadest community of readers/​customers, Amazon has published Kindle software for every major Computer, Tablet, and Smartphone platform. Kindle books, which typically have DRM applied to them, may also be in a proprietary format, but, to some degree its platform agnostics approach makes it a far more available format to readers than Apple’s hardware locked .ida []
  5. Even during the browser wars of the late nineties, text on a site optimized for a given browser could still be typically read by anyone who visited that site, regardless of their web browser. []

[Sony Guy featured at Unplugged]Unplugged ran this photo yesterday with the following text:

One rad dude with his late 80’s tech toys. The only thing we’d imagine using amongst his array of electronics is the calculator; fascinating to note these all were ubiquitous items in households not too long ago, but have been mostly phased out with the march of time.

What the comment misses is that the vast majority of these devices (video cameras, video recorders, audio editing, calculators, portable audio, portable video, …) haven’t been phased out, just transformed. For example, VHS tapes are on the way out, but video recording and replay continues. What it also misses is that if the photo was taken today, it might look something like this:

The vast majority of those device functions (video recording, video replay, camera, video camera, portable audio, calculation) are available on most smart phones. This is one of the most revolutionary aspects of new digital technologies. Not only do they compress (and sometimes expand) time and space, but the move to digital allows devices to “fold” into each other.

Once information is reduced into 0’s and 1’s, as long as your device (phone, computer, tablet, you-​name-​it) can run a program that can manipulate those digits without destroying their relations (the overall structure of the file), then you can add on whatever playback and editing features you want.

This is part of a series of articles about the technologies that are changing eReading. For those who have been following them so far, it’s probably becoming clear that like O’Reilly’s Andrew Savikas, I see mobile devices as the mainstream future of eReading. Previous articles have touched on the GMS mobile telephony standard and how the iPhone has changed the expectations smartphones and other screen based consumer electronic devices and mobile OS’es On the eve of the announcement of the iSlate, it’s a discussion on how Apps transform expectations.

How Smartphone Apps will change our Experience/​Expectations about Computers

Over the past few articles, I made the argument that smartphones have changed our expectations about the availability of touch and downloadable 3rd party apps on similar devices. These expectations are because of similarities in visual appearance, functionality, and price point. Put another way, because my Kindle costs roughly the same amount as my (subsidized) iPhone (or Droid, etc), is mostly screen (like my smartphone), and is used for the display of digital information, I expect it to have the same features (touchscreen, color, apps). If I paid more for the Kindle (or other eReader) than my phone, then it definitely should have those features.

As recently as this past December, Jeff Bezos touted the fact that the Kindle only did one thing well:

And then for the Kindle device, we want that to be the world’s best purpose-​built reading device. It’s not a Swiss Army knife. It’s not going to do a bunch of different things. We believe that reading deserves a dedicated device, and we want Kindle to be that device. It’s like a digital camera. I like having the digital camera on my smart phone, but I also like having a dedicated camera for when I want to take real pictures. (Jeff Bezos, Newsweek Jan 4, 2010)

Unfortunately, the problem with uni-​functional/​dedicated devices is that the average consumer isn’t willing to pay a heavy premium for them. Take his example of the digital camera – unless someone is a gadget person or an aspiring photographer, chances are that they paid less for the camera than they did for their smartphone. In fact, it wasn’t until the price of a digital camera dropped below $200 that they truly took off as a category. (Side note: I’m unsure if consumer digital cameras will survive in the long run given the increasing quality of cellphone cameras.)

The same is true for eReaders. If the Kindle cost less than $150, I think people would have an easier time treating it as dedicated device. For the moment, that isn’t the case. And, not surprisingly, last week Amazon announced that they are bringing apps to the Kindle platform.

But what happens when you start to bring apps to a given device? As I mentioned last post, one thing that can happen is that the applications lead to a reinterpretation of the “purposes” of that device. As previously mentioned, even though in 2008 Steve Jobs didn’t think people would read on the iPhone, 3rd party app developers and iPhone didn’t see things that way. Taking advantage of the iPhone’s mobility/​portability, its multi-​touch interface, and its ability to easily access content from the internet, apps like Stanza turned the iPhone into an eReading platform.

Note that we shouldn’t forget the users in this account, as they are as much a part of the story as Apple and the App developers. They had to discover the reading application (either by browsing the app store or via word of mouth) and figure out a way to integrate them into their own routines.

I’ll get back to the role of the user in a future post. For the moment though, I’d like to think about the intersection of hardware and software. Returning to smartphones, I want to discuss how their ability to combine “contextual” information with a constant connection is going to change our expectations about what both devices (including computers), and perhaps even books, can do.

By context I mean that the smartphone is constantly “aware” of its position in the world. Between GPS and cell tower triangulation, it’s possible for the phone to locate itself down to a few meters. The accelerometer within the phone can judge its orientation (landscape vs. portrait) and if it is in motion. Newer phones even include magnetometers (or digital compasses) to provide information about which direction the phone is pointing. Finally, specific environmental information can be conveyed through the phones recording devices (camera and microphone). Add that all up and mix in constant internet access and the result is a device that not only knows where it is, but it’s able to share that information with outside services.

This “awareness” is the foundation of applications like the popular Foursquare. Foursquare is a location-​based social networking game. Users gain points by checking-​in at venues using text messaging or a smartphone apps application. Acquire enough points and you become the “Mayor” of a specific venue. In some locations, venues have partnered with the service to make special offers to subscribers. What’s important to note is that this type of application would be difficult to execute, let alone build a significant following, using laptops or other portable computing technologies. The success of the Foursquared platform is directly tied to the specific capabilities of smartphones.

Looking to the future…

With recent increases in the processing and graphic power of smartphones, lots of interesting things can begining to happen. Rather than talk about new chipsets that are just becoming available from companies like Nvidia (btw, at this moment their stock is severely undervalued – hint hint), let’s go to video evidence:

This is an HTC HD2, a currently available smartphone, acting as a Playstation emulator. While gameplay is a little slower than on the PS1, it’s still an impressive leap. As these capabilities become standardized on smartphones, it will allow for Augmented Reality interactions. Augmented reality is used to describe a live direct or indirect view of a real-​world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-​generated imagery — creating a mixed reality. Here’s an example of an ARG developed by grad students at Georgia Tech. Using a smartphone and a specially designed gameboard, the students have created a unique zombie shoot-​em-​up game:

The interaction with the game board is based on the QR Code (3d Barcode) technology. The software recognizes the image of a static graphic matrix and decodes information orientation information from that matrix in order to render the building structures. Here’s a similar example, using a desktop computer, where a print ad for the Mini was enhanced by an AR rendering of a Mini.

In the case of the Zombie game and the Mini ad, the majority of the information about the graphic code is contained within the app itself. The graphic simply provides positioning information. However, that doesn’t always have to be the case. A QR Code, for example, can encode up to 4,296 characters of alphanumeric data (30x the limit of a twitter post). Already there have been a number of interesting experiments with QR code enhanced reading:

These are all examples of hybrid projects that rely on the capabilities of a smartphone (or technology commonly found within a smartphone) to function. Each integrates with print to deliver an enhanced reading experience. It’s also possible to think about how cell phone technologies could enhance an ebook experience. Imagine for example a constantly updated electronic Zagats guide that uses a phone GPS technology to find nearby resturants, provides walking/​driving maps to your dining location of choice, and actively solicits you for feedback on the location you just visited.

For other ways that the eReading experience might be enhanced, we turn to an interesting project from Japan. Nintendo Japan and Harlequin are teaming to release Love Stories for Adults: DS Harlequin Selection for Nintendo’s portable DS game system. Each of the 33 eBooks released for the DS will feature a character relation chart which is updated as you progress through the stories, view summaries of what you’ve read so far glossaries of terms and names, and background music. There is also a social reading component. Readers can record impressions of the works by simply selecting keywords, and will be linked to online columns about the work.

We’re just beginning to beginning to see what enhanced ebooks might look like. Clearly social reading (like social networking) will fit into the experience.

This continues an exploration of the technologies and trends that are influencing the future of reading. Previous posts have discussed the GMS mobile telephony standard and how the iPhone has changed the expectations smartphones and other screen based consumer electronic devices. As always, crossposted at the OPL)

[App Store]As mentioned previously, one of the things that smartphones did was to highlight the value of the Operating System. Beyond the user interface of the phone, the key place that the OS created value was through app delivered via App Stores. There is no question that the undisputed leader here is Apple. Gartner Research recently reported that Apple accounts for 97.5% of all applications downloaded from all app stores.

Let’s spend a moment with that number. First note that it includes the download of paid and free applications. The research group Gigaom has calculated that approximately ¾’s of the applications downloaded from the store are free applications (please, visit that link for a beautiful visualization of this information). Still, the results of people paying for a quarter of those applications is nothing to dismiss. In December of 2009, the quarter of the downloads from the App store that were paid for accounted for $250 Million in revenues of which 30% goes to Apple and 70% goes to the developers.

Also, it’s important to note that not all of those downloads took place on iPhones. Many purchases were made via the iPod Touch, which also runs the iPhone software. This tends to lend some credence to the possibility that the upcoming Apple tablet will run iPhone software, or at least have access to the Apple App store. It’s in Apple’s best interest to make sure that as many devices of their devices as possible can buy from the store.

Given the relative “newness” of the Blackberry/​RIM, Android/​Google, and Microsoft App stores, it shouldn’t surprise us that Apple is so far ahead. We can expect that as those stores mature, and as the number of devices that can access these stores increase, Apple’s share of the download market will decrease.

The greater point in all of this is that users see smartphones as a platform for apps and that they are willing to routinely download and even pay for apps, if the installation process is “one click” easy. Those apps in turn, are expanding people’s expectations about what a smartphone can do. And as we have seen expectations are often carried over to similar product categories – especially if the products are in similar price ranges. Just as people have come to expect that eReaders have touchscreens, similar expectations may develop around downloading and running apps. Take for example the Amazon’s announcement of a Kindle Software Development Kit. Also note that such a move isn’t just about keeping up with the ApplesJones, it’s also the hope of developing their own app store (you know, it’s not like Amazon has experience handling eCommerce).

The Smartphone Mobile OS

As people expect more and more from their phone, the line between the smartphone category and the portable computer category will begin to blur. Based on products shown or rumored at CES, it’s clear that said blurring has already begun. Smartphone OS’s have begun to “invade” other devices. Google’s Android OS has made its way onto netbooks and eReaders. And while Microsoft currently has different operating systems for mobile phones (Windows Phone) and other mobile devices (Windows CE), there is much speculation that these will eventually fold into the same platform. Finally,as mentioned above, in addition to driving the iPod Touch, there is much speculation that the upcoming Apple iSlate will also run the iPhone OS.

Beyond including access to apps, there are a number of reasons why Mobile OS’s are on the rise:

  • They are (in theory) designed to run efficiently on lower powered processors. While the capabilities of mobile CPUs continue to increase, they still lag far behind their traditional computer brethren. So mobile OS’s have to do more with less and while balancing functionality with heat discharge and power consumption (you don’t want to have to recharge your device more than once a day).
  • Touch (either finger or stylus) is the primary interface device. Unlike traditional OSes which focus on mouse and keyboard, these platforms were designed from the ground up to be touch first and keyboard second.
  • Telephony and mobile networking is built into the OS. Since they are designed to work as (smart)phones they have to be able to connect to a mobile phone network. This means that when a manufacturer chooses to implement a given mobile OS they know that they have the software capability for mobile networking.
  • And in addition to telephony, there are a number of other “bonus” features enabled by the OS including support for built in cameras, accelerometers (motion sensors), magnetometer (digital compass), and GPS.

Where manufacturer/​developer choice comes in

For manufacturers, choosing one of these OS’s means that you don’t have to program your own custom OS for your device. However there are a range of decisions and, in some cases, restrictions that influence the decision of which OS to use.

Of the major OS’s: Apple Iphone, Google Android, Microsoft Phone, RIM Blackberry, and Nokia/​Sony Ericsson/​Samsung Symbian – only Android and Windows Phone are licensed so that any manufacturer can incorporate them into their devices.

Apple, Nokia, RIM, Sony Ericsson, and Samsung tightly control their respective OS’s, placing them on devices that they manufacture. The advantage to this, from a manufacturer’s standpoint, is that they can tightly control the hardware that the platforms run on. The argument for this control is that it provides users with the best possible base experience: You never have to worry about encountering iPhone software on a device with a slow processor.

Microsoft and Google take a different approach. By allowing anyone (or at least anyone who is willing to pay the development licensing fee in Microsoft’s case) to develop hardware for their platforms, the hope is to capture the market through volume. The recent proliferation of Android devices is a great example of this. It’s hard to say “no” to a free OS that provides all the advantages listed above.

On one hand, this flexibility means that these OS, in Microsoft’s case Windows CE, find their way into a wide range of devices including eReaders and tablets. However, there are potential dangers to this strategy. Microsoft attributes part of the problems that they have had with their Mobile OS to inconsistent user experiences due to variation screen sizes and processor power across devices:

Our fragmentation issue is primarily around screen resolutions and assuming a minimum CPU and storage. So it has been a little bit challenging, because that choice, that flexibility, that freedom that people have to build any kind of device and use any kind of device: touch, non-​touch, keyboard, soft key, has required a little bit extra effort in some cases for developers to target apps that run across a wide array of devices…” ~ Microsoft’s Greg Sullivan, Senior Marketing Manager

For app developers, there are different costs to be weighed. If developers choose to program for Android, it means learning a new OS. Microsoft, on the other hand, markets their OS by highlighting the advantage that programming for the OS is very similar to writing a standard Windows program, which helps keep costs down. Apple makes a similar claim about the Cocoa programming language for the iPhone – if you can program a Mac, you can program an iPhone.

Obviously market share and platform popularity influence choice as well. But, returning to the beginning of the article, distribution through App stores may be the biggest factor. By signing on with Apple, for example, a developer knows that if they can get their application into the iTunes App store, then they have the greatest audience exposure and a “turn key” infrastructure for getting paid.

The question that we’ll tackle next is how Smartphone Apps are changing our expectations about what programs (and computers) can do.

Last week, I began an exploration of the technologies and trends that are influencing the future of reading with a discussion of the GMS mobile telephony standard which numerous devices use to enable “ubiquitous” mobile internet access. Today, we’ll take the next step and being to talk about smartphones.

Smartphones (Part I)

[The Apple Iphone 3GS gets a Phone. by flickr user Ninja M.]While there is no universal definition of a smartphone, the general agreement is that in addition to telephony, smartphones integrate a number of features that traditionally were only found on Personal Computers. Smartphone examples include the Apple iPhone, the Blackberry Storm, the Google Nexus One (Android), the HTC HD (Windows Phone), and the Motorola (an)Droid.

Early smartphones, running RIM’s Blackberry and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, established the “base” feature set for these devices: telephony + the schedule and contact management features of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) + (enterprise) email management +ability to develop/​run 3rd party software. At this point, at least in the US, these smartphones were marketed as business level devices. While Blackberry (or ‘Crackberry’) developed a certain cultural cache, it was with the introduction of the Apple iPhone in 2007 that smartphones transitioned into the mainstream.

(note: While the “hows” and “whys” of that move are important to understanding the future of eReading, we’ll have to put them aside for the moment. I promise that I’ll get back to them in a future post. For the moment, let’s just accept that the iPhone was/​is a game changer, and one that helps us to understand the current direction of smartphones.)

The success of the iPhone moved the baseline expectations about how smartphones and their related services should work:

  1. Smartphone = Cool
    As mentioned above, the iPhone firmly established smartphones as a consumer product, and more importantly, a status symbol. The iPhone and other smartphones began to make the rounds in popular culture and discussions began to take place about the importance of having a smartphone to “fully engage” with the world around you. And rather than being pushed to the back of their catalogs, cell phone providers began to focus their marketing campaigns around these devices.
    [Iphone on TV]
  2. 100% more screen
    Previous devices relied on tactile hardware (keys) as interface devices. The iPhone was among the first smartphones to sacrifice physical buttons in order to maximize screen space; fast forward just a few years and it’s difficult to find anything but virtual controls on the vast majority of smartphones.

    The effect of the larger screen went beyond simply how it changed the UI – Apple could have made the entire phone smaller and still maximized the screen size. Drawing upon the visual media strengths of the iPod platform, Apple cemented the notion that smartphones were also portable media playback devices. This meant (and this is important for the future of reading) that people would accept carrying larger than average “phone” if it served other purposes. As with monitors, “widescreen” had come to phones and manufactures began to increase the size of their devices. Today cellphone screens carry resolutions like WVGA (854×480) and WUGA (~400x240).

  3. Touch me, touch me, touch me
    [Multi Touch Illustration from zatznotfunny . com]The Apple iPhone OS was arguably the first smart phone to be developed from the ground up with “touch” (or rather the finger) as the primary interface device. Prior to that, the expectation was that a physical keypad/​board was typically the basis of interaction. “Touch control” was added, not through fingers, but through the use of a stylus (a future post will tackle touchscreen technology, so again, let’s leave the “hows” and “why’s” of touch alone for the moment). So not only was touch arguably an afterthought, but the assumption was that you’d only use a single touch point at a time. The iPhone brought the concept of multitouch to the mainstream (ie. Adding “pinch” and “stretch” to the interface).

    The effect of touch control is also felt outside of the smartphone market. Fair or not, thanks to the iPhone (and the iPod touch), touchscreen is now imagined as the standard interface for hi-​tech portable devices that are primarily screen. I cannot count the number of times I’ve seen someone pick up a Kindle and attempt to manipulate the contents of a book by touching the screen only to be disappointed to find out that you need to use the hardware buttons.

  4. The App Store Model
    3rd party smartphone Apps existed long before the iPhone, but there few centralized repositories of applications, and none allowed for “one-​touch” installation of applications. In fact, you were often required to tether your smartphone to a computer in order to add new software. Apple’s iTunes App Store changed all of that, enabling users to easily browse and manage applications via their phones. Perhaps more importantly, Apple built a business model around its App Store, taking a piece of every software purchase. Not surprisingly, the creators of the competing OS’s have followed Apple’s example and created their own App Stores.

    The result of the proliferations of App Store’s is two-​fold. First, it has firmly established for customers and developers alike that smartphones are software platforms and are to be judged on how they can be extended through software. This leads us to a second point, the success or failure of a particular OS is now intimately tied to not only the experience of the OS, but also the recruitment of application developers.I suspect that, like touchscreens, this expectation of expandability will spread to all other smartphone-​like devices – including eReaders. More importantly, it is through these App Stores (and apps) that reading came to smartphones. Despite Steve Job’s claim that “people don’t read anymore,” reading apps like Lexical’s Stanza, the New York Times eReader, and Amazon’s Kindle software have been a great success on the iPhone. People familiar with the history of technology will see this as another example of how the use of technologies are shaped by multiple parties beyond the manufacturer, in this case users and third party developers.

Now, where does the larger screen, touch control and the apps take us in regards to eReading? I’ll tackle that tomorrow.

Crossposted at the OPL.