Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
Hewlett-Packard is announcing two projects Wednesday at the Web 2.0 Summit that it hopes will give new life to print–books and magazines in particular.
BookPrep and MagCloud let content that’s been too expensive or difficult to print reach readers more easily.
Andrew Bolwell, director of new business initiatives at HP, told me these products are based on an understanding that the publishing industry is undergoing a fundamental shift–which he sees as the move away from printing items ahead of time, distributing them to locations in the hopes that people will buy them, and then disposing of the products that are unsold–into the more contemporary model of printing on demand. Each year in the U.S., 2 billion magazines, or 62 percent of all those printed, end up unsold and in landfills, Bolwell said.
Books are printed in advance in the same way, for the most part, and unsold copies are likewise destroyed. Furthermore, most of the books ever printed are unavailable to buy: Bolwell said only 4 percent of the 90 million books ever printed are available to purchase.
HP is set to rescue old books, making them fit to print again.
Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET)
HP’s BookPrep is built to address that. The service takes in scans of book pages, cleans them up automatically, and preps them for sale as print-on-demand paperback editions.
The service, which has been in testing for about a year at a university library, is getting some high-profile partners and a business model. The service now gets scanned books from Google and from the Internet Archive, and sells its books on Amazon.com.
The books are printed by various on-demand book printing houses. The covers are done on HP Indigo printers, but the book pages themselves are created on who-knows-what printer. Bolwell doesn’t care, as the revenue comes from the sale of the books via Amazon royalties. HP said it will share a portion of its revenue with the source of each book’s scan–in most cases, a library.
Unlike the Archive’s more disruptive Book Server project, which is about making current books available online, BookPrep is about older, public-domain books. And the BookPrep service does not index the actual text in books–it leaves that to Google, Amazon, and the Internet Archive. All BookPrep does is take crufty scans of old books and make them presentable enough for print. It also can create nice covers for print editions.
So if you want a print edition of the 1887 White House Cook Book, this is how a surviving, aging copy of the book can appear new again.
The company also has a way for today's magazine publishers to print for less.
Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET)
The MagCloud business addresses magazine printing. It’s a custom magazine printing site, like Lulu but for glossy magazines, that’s been live since February. The service lets people create their own print publication and customize single copies for users based on location or other factors. When a reader buys an issue, MagCloud prints a copy at a printer as close to the person’s location as possible to save shipping costs and time.
The new addition to the product is a link into Wikia blogs. Users can now print “magazines” of Wikia pages, and the service will format them so they look nice. It reminds me of Offbeat Guides to an extent.
MagCloud isn’t a complete magazine publishing system in the sense that it helps people create periodical publications. It doesn’t do subscription management nor does it automate print advertising. But it does look like a nice way to get a fancy-looking color magazine-like publication created and distributed easily.
MagCloud publications are printed on HP’s Indigo printers, but HP said it’s agnostic to printing engine.
Taping up old pages
Bolwell has a modern yet conflicted appreciation for print, which is not surprising for someone who works at a one of the largest printer manufacturers. He believes that people will continue to love and want printed products and that, “especially for rich four-color content, the experience of the printed page is the preferred way of reading content.” However, he also believes that the process for creating a printed product must change: “It’s only a matter of time until the entire (magazine) industry moves to print on demand,” he adds.
Both BookPrep and MagCloud seem to be Band-Aids for likely terminal patients. The demand for printed books and magazines won’t vanish tomorrow. Nor will the demand for newspapers evaporate suddenly, though that’s an industry even Bolwell doesn’t think printing technology should try to fix.
The question is to what level the book and magazine printing industries, even streamlined, will decline, and how fast they will get there. I hope Bolwell has exit plans for this business, and I don’t mean selling it to Google.
Originally posted at Rafe’s Radar
HP can’t save print industry, but big props for trying
Tuesday, October 20th, 2009
Gartner analyst David Cearley
ORLANDO, Fla.–Cloud computing isn’t going to be vapor much longer, Gartner said Tuesday.
The general idea–shared computing services accessible over the Internet that can expand or contract on demand–topped Gartner’s list of the 10 top
technologies that information technology personnel need to plan for. It’s complicated, poses security risks, and computing technology companies are latching onto the buzzword in droves, but the phenomenon should be taken seriously, said analyst Dave Cearley here at the Gartner Symposium.
Gartner's top trends to watch.
Specifically, companies should figure out what cloud services might give them value, how to write applications that run on cloud services, and whether they should build their own private clouds that use Internet-style networking technology within a company’s firewall.
Cloud computing takes several forms, from the nuts and bolts of Amazon Web Services to the more finished foundation of Google App Engine to the full-on application of Salesforce.com. Companies should figure out what if any of those approaches are most suited to their challenges, Gartner said.
Gartner analyst Carl Claunch
The advice came as part of a talk on top trends coming in 2010 that companies should incorporate into their strategic planning, if not necessarily their own computer systems. The full list of 10: 1. cloud computing; 2. advanced analytics; 3. client computing; 4. IT for green; 5. reshaping the data center; 6. social computing; 7. security–activity monitoring; 8. flash memory; 9. virtualization for availability; and 10. mobile applications.
Second on the list is virtualization–not just in the broad sense of technology that lets a single computer run multiple operating systems simultaneously, where it’s become a fixture in data centers, but as a means to keep computing services up and running despite computer failures, said analyst Carl Claunch.
Virtual machines can be moved from one physical machine to another today. Later, by keeping two machines tightly synchronized, a failure in a primary machine can be eased over rapidly by moving the active service to the backup machine, Claunch said.
“We should start seeing this roll out in the next year or two from vendors,” he said.
The Gartner hype cycle takes on the PC.
For PCs, virtualization is arriving, too.
“Think of applications in bubbles,” Cearley said. “They can run on client devices or up on a server,” with virtualization providing the encapsulation technology to move the work around. The official corporate computing environment can run side by side with employees’ home computing environment.
That, along with cloud computing, enables more freedom for people using PCs.
“We’re looking at a time when the specific operating system and device options matter a lot less,” Cearley said. “You could use a home PC or a Macintosh with a managed corporate image running on that particular device…We see more companies providing a stipend (for) employee-owned PCs.”
Make your data center modular.
Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET)
Another idea: modular data centers. You don’t have set up your IT gear in storage containers, but do divide them into pods that each have their own computing, power, and cooling, Claunch said. That makes it easier to pay as you go, to adapt to new technologies, and to increase energy efficiency by partitioning hot hardware from cooler hardware.
Green IT is important–and changing in its nature. It’s not just a matter of buying efficient computers, but also of using computers to increase the efficiency of other parts of the business, Cearley said. For example, analytics can improve the efficiency of transportation of goods.
Next comes applications for mobile devices. “That has great potential for creating different experience or stickiness for your customers,” Cearley said.
And mobile x86 processors from Intel and AMD could make software development easier, too, he added.
Social networking will happen internally and externally.
Social-networking applications, broadly defined, also should be on company radar screens. The technology can take the form of internal corporate social networks, interactions with customers, and use of public services such as Facebook and Twitter.
Companies need to get a handle on what’s going on–and potentially business purposes such as understanding how the corporate brand is perceived.
“Social network analysis will be moving from a somewhat arcane discipline to a much more mainstream component of your social computing strategy,” Cearley said.
Originally posted at Deep Tech
Gartner: Brace yourself for cloud computing
Tuesday, October 20th, 2009
Yahoo revenue is still down compared to last year, but stabilized in the third quarter while profits surged.
Updated 1:40 p.m. PDT with additional details from the release, and throughout at 3:45 p.m. PDT following the earnings call.
Yahoo’s cost-cutting moves this year are starting to show up in the bottom line, as the company’s third-quarter profit exceeded analyst expectations by a wide margin.
Revenue is still declining at Yahoo, which recorded $1.6 billion in revenue, down 12 percent from last year. Excluding traffic acquisition costs paid to partners, revenue was $1.1 billion, in line with analyst estimates.
But following several rounds of layoffs and belt-tightening, Yahoo’s net income came in at $186 million, a 244 percent increase over last year’s third-quarter net income of $54 million or $0.13 in earnings per share. And when you factor out special items, net income was $213 million or $0.15 in earnings per share. Analysts were looking for $0.07 in earnings per share on average, and even the most optimistic estimates didn’t cross $0.10.
Some of the unexpected increase can be chalked up to Yahoo’s decision to sell its 1 percent stake in Alibaba.com during the quarter, on which it gained about $98 million. UBS analyst Brian Pitz estimated that one-time gain accounted for about $0.03 in earnings per share, according to Tech Trader Daily.
But Yahoo has shed 2,000 jobs since the third quarter of 2008, now employing 13,200 people around the world. It has signaled a willingness to cut further, currently in the process of shedding divisions of the company that it no longer considers important to focus on others.
CFO Tim Morse–who led the call unexpectedly after CEO Carol Bartz came down with the flu–said that Yahoo will continue to wring costs from anything and everything. “There’s a change occurring at Yahoo that will value that kind of work,” he said, referring to efforts to find more efficient ways of operating Yahoo’s core properties.
Yahoo’s results will give further credence to the notion that Internet advertising is coming back after a dreadful year. Google’s financial results last week signaled such a shift was in place, and while Yahoo isn’t nearly as strong in search advertising, it is a major player in display advertising, which was not expected to recover as quickly as search advertising.
Morse said that Yahoo is starting to see some “loosening” of ad spending budgets as the economy recovers. Still, Yahoo is still a long way away from the revenue heights it reached last year and the needle is not moving in the right direction just yet.
Search advertising declined by 19 percent in the third quarter to hit $354 million on Yahoo’s owned and operated sites, while display advertising declined 8 percent to $399 million. The good-news/bad-news scenario here is that while the rate of decline in the display business is slowing down, the rate of decline in the search business is increasing, perhaps fallout from Yahoo’s decision to enter into a pending agreement with Microsoft to outsource search on Yahoo sites.
Morse, however, preferred to focus on the results as compared to the second quarter of this year. Looking at it that way, display advertising grew slightly and search advertising declined slightly. That’s not anything to get excited about, but it’s not as bad a picture as painted by the year-over-year comparisons.
Getting back to the Microsoft deal, Morse said Yahoo still expects the deal to close early next year, reiterating the support the companies received Monday from the advertising industry. Yahoo knows the migration will take a while; it expects to move only one or two significant markets to the Microsoft search technology in 2009 if approved soon. However, Morse wryly noted that not only has Yahoo done this before–when it introduced its Panama search ad platform in 2007–but many of the engineers that worked on Panama now work for Microsoft.
The company said it expected to record between $1.6 billion and $1.7 billion in revenue during the upcoming fourth quarter, which would be a slight decrease compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. However, coming into the third quarter the financial community was only expecting Yahoo to record $1.2 billion during the fourth quarter.
Originally posted at Relevant Results
Go here to read the rest:
Yahoo profits up, revenue still declining
Tuesday, October 20th, 2009
The city of Los Angeles has decided to delay making a decision about whether or not to adopt Google Apps across its network, citing cost concerns.
The City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee did not take any action regarding the proposed contract, which has been debated for months as one of the more high-profile public sector Google Apps deals. That means the matter will pass to the full City Council for a vote later this month, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Security concerns had been prominent during earlier discussions of the proposal, which would see the city move off a Novell system and use Google’s hosting service for e-mail and office applications. But the council was more pragmatic, noting that implementing the system would cost $1.5 million more than continuing on with the current system and asking for further details before voting. “The urgency case hasn’t been made,” said Councilman Bernard Parks, chairman of the Budget and Finance committee, according to the Times.
Google’s argument is that the cost of adopting Google Apps would be far less than the cost of upgrading to a different type of modern system, estimating that the city could save $13.8 million over the contract.
Originally posted at Relevant Results
Read the original here:
LA City Council delays Google Apps decision
Tuesday, October 20th, 2009
#BeatCancer, a charitable campaign that launched at the BlogWorld & New Media Expo, started making its way around the social Web last week. The goal was to set a new Guinness World Record for the most social mentions in a 24-hour period while raising cash for cancer organizations. Users were asked to include the #BeatCancer hash tag in tweets, Facebook status updates, and blog posts.
According to Everywhere, the social-media communications firm behind the charitable event, 209,771 social messages were sent during the 24-hour period ending 9 a.m. PDT on October 18. The campaign tallied more than 100 million impressions. Both figures set new Guinness World Records.
Most importantly, the organization was able to raise more than $70,000 from sponsors eBay/PayPal and MillerCoors Brewing Company. The companies donated one cent for each tweet, status update, or blog post that featured #BeatCancer. There have been more than 620,000 mentions of #BeatCancer as of this writing.
The idea for #BeatCancer came from Everywhere’s managing partner and cancer survivor Tamara Knechtel. She said in a statement that her company wanted to use “social media for social good.” It looks like she succeeded.
If you’re interested in getting in on the #BeatCancer donations, you still can. Everywhere said that it plans to keep the program running. Like before, any tweet, blog-post mention, or Facebook status update containing the #BeatCancer hash tag will send one cent to cancer organizations.
Online cancer-fighting inititive sets Guinness record