Posted tagged ‘Kindle’

Microsoft Announces 3,000 Layoffs

May 5, 2009

Microsoft has announced that it has aid off 3,000 employees from its U.S. and worldwide locations as part of a previously announced cost-cutting initiative.

From InformationWeek:

“This is difficult news to share,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, in an e-mail to employees. “Because our success at Microsoft has always been the direct result of the talent, hard work, and commitment of our people, eliminating positions is hard.”

Microsoft in January said it planned to trim a total of 5,000 jobs from its workforce. Ballmer said Tuesday’s action means the company has “mostly” reached that objective.”We are moving quickly to reach this target in response to consistent feedback from our people and business groups that it’s important to make decisions and reduce uncertainty for employees as quickly as possible,” said Ballmer.

Ballmer added that Microsoft could cut more than the originally announced 5,000 jobs if economic conditions worsen or fail to improve. “As we move forward, we will continue to closely monitor the impact of the economic downturn on the company and if necessary, take further actions on our cost structure including additional job cuts,” Ballmer said.

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Kindle Application for iPhone Unveiled

March 4, 2009

Odds are that you may not have yet the latest $359 Kindle electronic book reader. But if you own an iPhone or iPod Touch, a new application will let you access the same content on your Apple device.

From the Associated Press:

In a bid to increase its slice of the e-book market, the Seattle-based online retailer plans to roll out a free program Wednesday that brings several of the Kindle’s functions to the iPod and iPhone’s smaller screen.

The program, which can be downloaded from Apple’s online application store, lets iPhone and iPod Touch users read the same electronic books, magazines and newspapers that Kindle owners can buy on Amazon.com. As with the Kindle, the iPhone app lets users change the text size on the screen, and add bookmarks, notes and highlights.

The application does not connect to the Kindle store, however, so users must access the Web browser on their iPhone, iPod or computer to buy the content.

If you happen to have a Kindle and an iPhone, Amazon’s program will handily sync the two so you can keep your place in the same book on both devices.

The Kindle program isn’t the first e-book reader for the iPhone, but it marks the first time Kindle content is available on a cell phone — a move Amazon recently said it would be making, and something that rival Google Inc. is also doing.

Amazon Launches Kindle 2.0

February 9, 2009

Amazon.com today unveiled the latest incarnation of its digital book reader, the Kindle,  in a slimmer version with more storage and a feature that reads text aloud to users.

And it was fit for a King: Stephen King!

From the Associated Press:

Amazon.com Inc. is releasing a new, slimmer version of the Kindle, its electronic reading device.

The online retailer’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos told a New York news conference today that the highly anticipated new Kindle will cost $359, same as the previous version.

The new Kindle is about one-third of an inch thick and weighs 10 ounces. It includes a screen with 16 shades of gray, compared with the previous Kindle’s four shades. It will be able to read books aloud. And it promises two weeks of reading on one charge of the battery.

Amazon says it will begin shipping the new Kindle Feb. 24. Stephen King has written a book that will be exclusively available on the device.

From the New York Times:

Escalating its efforts to dominate the fledgling industry for electronic books, Amazon introduced a new version of its electronic book reader today, dubbed Kindle 2.

Amazon said the upgraded device has seven times the memory as the original version, allows faster page-turns and has a crisper, though still black-and-white, display. The Kindle 2 also features a new design with round keys and a short, joystick-like controller — a departure from the design aspects of the previous version, which some buyers had criticized as awkward. The new device will ship on Feb. 24. Amazon did not change the price for the device, which remains $359.

Though the improvements to the Kindle are only incremental, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, defined some ambitious goals for the device. “Our vision is every book, ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds,” he said at a news conference in New York.

Amazon introduced several new features for the Kindle. A new text-to-speech function allows readers to switch between reading words on the device and having the words read to them by a computerized voice. That technology was provided by Nuance, a speech-recognition company based in Burlington, Mass.

Amazon is also allowing Kindle owners to transfer texts between their Kindle and other mobile devices. Amazon said it is working on making digital texts available for other gadgets (such as mobile phones), though it did not specify which ones.

One competitive threat Amazon is facing in its effort to dominate the world of e-books is from Google, which has scanned in some seven million books, many of them out of print. Google has also struck deals with publishers and authors to split the proceeds from the online sales of those texts.

Google recently said it would soon begin selling these books for reading on mobile devices like Apple’s iPhone and phones running Google’s Android operating system.

Implicitly addressing the threat posed by Google, Mr. Bezos said that Amazon knows better than other companies what book-buyers wants and stressed Amazon’s digital catalog of 230,000 newer books and best-sellers.

“We have tens of millions of customers who buy books from us every day and we know what they want to read,” he said. “And we are making sure to prioritize those items.”

From Reuters:

The new Kindle, which will still sell for $359 on Amazon’s web site amazon.com/kindle2, is available for preorder, and will ship February 24, the company said.

The new version fixes a problem with involuntary page turns, is thinner, and sports a new five-way controller that allows users to jump between articles and sections of newspapers. A power charger is more portable and a cover that comes with the device is more secure, the company said.

The new Kindle is “thinner, faster, crisper, with longer battery life, and capable of holding hundreds more books,” said Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos in a statement released alongside a company event at New York City’s Morgan Library.

Amazon shares were down 0.7 percent at $65.05 after the news of the release.

First launched by the Seattle-based company in November 2007, the Kindle allows users to read books and newspapers wirelessly on a device weighing less than a typical paperback.

Could Google’s Latitude Be A Twitter Killer?

February 6, 2009

Great article on Mashable yesterday about Google’s new Latitude and the affect it might have on Twitter.

When Google announced Latitude, the company’s new geo-location tool, all the talk was about the technology opening doors for location-based ads in the years ahead. While we probably can be sure that those ads are coming, the big question is whether Latitude might be Google’s secret “Twitter Killer”.

From the article:

I’ve been playing around with Google Latitude on and off since this morning. I must admit, it’s pretty cool and demonstrates why geolocation is interesting, and services like Loopt and BrightKite have found some success as early players in the space.

But as myself and a lot of other commenters have noted, the problem with Latitude is that Google contacts really aren’t your actual social network in most cases, primarily because of the quirky way in which Gmail adds people to your buddy list. Nonetheless, Google Latitude has me thinking about geolocation again, and more aptly, why the big social networking players – Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter – aren’t doing anything with it.

Why It Would Be Great

Facebook, and to a lesser extent Twitter (and formerly MySpace … it still is for lots of other people), is an actual representation of my social network. And, with the ability to sort contacts into different groups (personal friends, colleagues, high school classmates, etc), the privacy concerns that come with any geolocation-based social network are mostly alleviated. Status updates are already built in (Latitude comes with a Status feature too), adding useful data when you see where your friends are. Essentially, it becomes the automated tweet-up.

The only thing seemingly missing from the big social networks is mapping and the decreasingly complex technological barriers it takes to do geolocation. But Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, and Mapquest all have APIs for that.

From eWeek:

“This means software developers will build applications around the triangulation of information; personal behaviors and preferences, your social group of friends and family and your location,” said Jeremiah Owyang, a Forrester Research senior analyst in social computing and the author of the blog Web Strategy. “I’m thinking about [Google’s mobile phone platform] Android and how it connects to it–you can expect Android to come with Latitude as a default software feature in the future.”

Latitude is an application that gives users the ability to track friends, family and colleagues via Google Maps on a PC or mobile device. Already available on BlackBerry, S60 and Windows Mobile devices, and coming soon to the Apple iPhone through Google Mobile App, Owyang said Latitude in its current form is merely a stepping stone, and not yet the be-all-end-all of mobile social networking.

“Google’s a little bit slower to come into this space, but they want to deliver things with quality,” he said, admitting that he couldn’t actually get Latitide to work on his mobile phone. “It might just be a Nokia thing, though,” he suggests. Owyang is referring to companies such as Loopt, which provides a cell phone-based GPS sharing system that allows users to visualize one another using their cell phones and share information. “This technology isn’t anything that new, they just haven’t put it all together yet.”

When that happens—which Owyang predicts is unlikely to occur before the end of the year or perhaps even two years, the future of contextual, location-based marketing and advertising arrives. “Say you and your friends from out of town are in a location in a city and you want to meet up; when this all comes together, it will recommend a restaurant based on what it knows about you and your friends’ preferences,” he said. “Like a good Thai restaurant.”

Amazon Kindle 2 Coming February 9

January 28, 2009

My wife’s grandmother believes that Amazon’s Kindle is the greatest invention of all time and now she should get excited as it appears we are only a few weeks away from the new, updated version.

From CNET:

I just received an invite “to an important Amazon.com press conference” on the morning of Monday, February 9 in New York. I’m not going to say where it is (that’s not cool for Amazon’s PR people, who would have to deal with crashers), but let’s just say it’s in a location that relates to books.

When the Kindle was first announced in 2007, Amazon held a very similar press conference (yes, in the morning), so I’d say there’s a good chance we’ll finally get some sort of official announcement on the next version–or versions–of Amazon’s popular digital reading device.

Photos of the alleged Kindle 2 were leaked late last year and speculation was high that a new Kindle would arrive in time for the holidays.

Not only did no new device show up, but Amazon basically stopped shipping the Kindle, even as it continued to advertise it front and center on Amazon.com, day after day. A note on the Kindle product page informed potential buyers that the Kindle was sold out and on back order for two to three months. Now it’s just listed as sold out and that Amazon would ship the device on a first-come, first-served basis.

It’s interesting to note that one of the readers of my earlier story posted that he just got an e-mail from Amazon saying that the Kindle his girlfriend ordered for him during the holidays was due to ship on March 5. Of course, that’s just one buyer, but it wouldn’t shock me if Amazon shipped out the bulk of its orders for the Kindle around then.

If indeed this turns out to be the announcement for the new Kindle (to be clear, I have no confirmation of that), Amazon could very well offer customers who’ve already ordered the original Kindle–and are awaiting its arrival–the option of canceling their orders or receiving the new Kindle.