Three separate lawsuits have been filed in China on behalf of 12 writers who claim Apple is selling unlicensed versions of their works in its iBookstore. Apple is accused of selling 59 unlicensed works in total, and the three suits seek a combined $3.5 million in damages. Apple has not denied the allegations, though the company did say that it responds to intellectual property complaints quickly. “As an IP holder ourselves, we understand the importance of protecting intellectual property and when we receive complaints we respond promptly and appropriately,” Beijing-based Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu told the Associated Press. Wang Guohua, a lawyer representing the group of writers, said Apple violated copyright laws by making the books available for purchase without securing the necessary licenses. Wang also said that while some titles were removed after lawsuits were filed in January, many have been uploaded to Apple’s digital store again and Apple has not taken the appropriate measures to prevent the pirated books from being sold. “Some developers, with whom Apple has contracts, put them back online again,” he said. “It is encouragement in disguise, because they did not punish the developers. The developers could have been kicked out. But nothing happened to them.” More →
A court in Germany ruled on Thursday that RapidShare must implement a system that proactively filters user uploads in order to prevent the illegal sharing of copyrighted content. Like Megaupload, which was shuttered earlier this year, RapidShare allows users to upload large files and share them online. The service has become widely known for hosting copyrighted software, music, movies and books that are then shared illegally on forums, blogs and a variety of of other websites. Following verdicts in three separate cases filed by two book publishers and an group representing music publishers called GEMA, the firm has been ordered to take a more active role in preventing infringing content from being uploaded to its servers, TorrentFreak reported. RapidShare has not yet stated whether or not it will appeal the decision.
UPDATE: RapidShare has issued a press release in response to this ruled, which now follows below. More →
Amazon’s popular Kindle Fire is seen as having a huge impact on eReader shipments in the first quarter of 2012. The 7-inch Android tablet burst onto the scene in November and with less than seven weeks of availability in the fourth quarter, it managed to secure Amazon 14% of the global tablet market according to IHS iSupply. Demand for the Kindle Fire has remained strong in the first quarter — the slate is still Amazon’s best-selling electronics device for the 16th week running — and according to DigiTimes Research, eReader shipments will take a huge hit this quarter as a result. A seasonal decline from the holiday quarter to the first quarter is always anticipated, but DigiTimes’s research arm sees global eBook reader shipments dropping from 9 million units in the December quarter to just 2 million this quarter, a 78% decline. DigiTimes Research still projects solid eReader shipment growth in the coming years, however, as sales into channels jump from an estimated 22.82 million units in 2011 to more than 60 million units by 2015. More →
The United States Department of Justice has warned Apple and five top U.S. book publishers that it plans to file an antitrust lawsuit against them, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday evening. According to the paper’s multiple unnamed sources, the DOJ alleges that Apple colluded with publishers to raise the prices of eBooks sold through Apple’s iBooks store. Publishers named in the report include Simon & Schuster Inc., Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, Macmillan and HarperCollins Publishers Inc. Read on for more. More →
Barnes & Noble on Tuesday unveiled a new version of its popular Nook Tablet to compete directly with Amazon’s Kindle Fire. Lining up with earlier reports, the new Barnes & Noble slate features the same specs as the earlier Nook Tablet, however the device’s internal storage has been halved to 8GB. “For any customer who likes to read digitally, watch movies or TV shows, browse the web, or help their kids read and learn through interactive books and apps, our new $199 NOOK Tablet with 8GB is the best product value on the market,” Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch said in a statement. “NOOK Tablet is the highest-rated wireless media tablet in the 7-inch class, ultra-portable at under a pound, offers our exclusive VividView screen technology, and since its introduction this holiday has received rave reviews from customers about all its great features. We’re pleased to now offer customers the ability to experience NOOK Tablet’s unmatched content experience for only $199.” Barnes & Noble also stated that its previous-generation Android tablet, the Nook Color, will drop to $169, undercutting the Kindle Fire by $30. The company’s full press release follows below. More →
Amazon is reportedly preparing to launch a new 6-inch color E Ink eReader as soon as next month, followed by a 10-inch Kindle Fire tablet some time in the second quarter this year. E Ink Holdings has received initial orders for Amazon’s a 6-inch color eReader according to DigiTimes, a device that would be Amazon’s first eBook reader to feature a color E Ink display. The retail giant is reportedly looking to have more than 3 million color eReaders built each month, and shipments are scheduled to begin in March. In a separate report, DigiTimes reaffirms recent rumors that a 10-inch Kindle Fire will begin shipping in the second quarter this year. The report states that Foxconn has been awarded the manufacturing contract for Amazon’s 10-inch Fire while Wintron will begin ODM production of a Nook Tablet for Barnes & Noble around the same time. It is unclear if the Barnes & Noble tablet mentioned in the report is a new model or the current tablet. More →
With great power comes great responsibility — and a flurry of advertising campaigns that target your wares. Samsung tried to make its name a verb in a recent round of anti-Apple ads where senseless iPhone owners got “Samsunged,” and the South Korea-based vendor’s campaign culminated with a $10 million extravaganza that aired during the Super Bowl. Amazon is next up to the plate, and the company’s recent commercial takes aim at Apple’s iPad. A woman sunbathing and reading a book on her Kindle is approached by a passing iPad owner who is intrigued by the fact that she can read in the sunlight. When the man mentions the Kindle’s inability to play movies, she points to a cabana where her two children are sitting, each with a Kindle Fire tablet. As a final jab, the woman points out that her three Kindles — one $79 eReader and two $199 tablets — are still cheaper than a single iPad. Amazon’s full commercial can be viewed below. More →
Barnes & Noble’s fifth-generation “e-reading device” will reportedly launch this coming spring. Mentioned in passing within a New York Times profile of the struggling bookseller, it is unclear if the device in question will be a new media tablet or a standard eReader. With Barnes & Noble’s current-generation color tablet having just been announced this past November, however, a refresh of the company’s E Ink-equipped Nook Touch in the spring seems more likely. Barnes & Noble first unveiled the Nook Touch — then referred to as the “all-new Nook” — at a press conference in New York last spring. The device has since been upgraded with an improved display and a battery that lasts up to two months on a single charge, but the design of the eBook reader remained unchanged. The lightweight ergonomic case and soft-touch rubber feel on the Nook Touch make it our preference over Amazon’s E Ink eReader, so we hope the company’s fifth-generation model doesn’t stray far from the current design. More →
Moments ago at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, Apple’s VP of marketing Phil Schiller announced what has been rumored for weeks — Apple is setting its sights on the textbook industry. It seems that Apple will be more of an ally to textbook publishers with its new initiative, however, which is a drastically different approach from the company’s entrance into the music business when it ruffled the feathers of the major labels. Noting the challenges kids face in school, Apple is playing up the company’s strengths in delivering some of the best tools to help publishers deliver great content, made specifically for the iPad. Hit the break for more.
Amazon’s Kindle line was expected to be a popular option for holiday shoppers and the retailer confirmed as much on Thursday. Straying from its normally tight-lipped stance with regard to sharing sales volumes, Amazon announced that its Kindle Fire tablet and Kindle eReaders have sold more than 1 million combined units for three consecutive weeks. “Kindle Fire is the most successful product we’ve ever launched – it’s the bestselling product across all of Amazon for 11 straight weeks, we’ve already sold millions of units, and we’re building millions more to meet the high demand,” VP of Amazon’s Kindle business Dave Limp said in a statement. “In fact, demand is accelerating – Kindle Fire sales increased week over week for each of the past three weeks. People are buying Kindle Fire because it’s a simple, fully-integrated service that makes it easy to do the things they love – watch movies, read books and magazines, listen to music, download apps, play games, and surf the web.” Limp added that the Kindle family of eBook readers are close behind Kindle Fire on the Amazon.com bestseller list. The company’s full press release follows below. More →
Amazon has been a leader in the eBook reader space since it first introduced the Kindle eReader in November 2007. At that point in time, the Kindle had a 6-inch E Ink display that supported just four shades of gray, it included 250MB of storage that could accommodate about 200 eBooks, and it retailed for $399. For the first six months or so, Amazon couldn’t keep the device in stock — it was a smash hit.
End user pricing on media tablets is set to drop substantially in 2012 as competition further increases among vendors. A new report from analyst James Wang of DigiTimes on Thursday suggests that the average price of 10-inch tablets will drop to between $299 and $399 next year, and 7-inch models will average between $199 and $249. Wang further speculations that Amazon may lower the end user cost of its Kindle Fire tablet to $149 in order to maintain its pricing advantage. Regarding eReaders, the analyst sees shipment volume growing 31.4% in 2012 to 28.9 million units, and he believes the U.S. will continue to account for the bulk of eReader sales. EReader pricing is expected to drop as well next year, and Wang says Amazon’s Kindle could be sold for as little as $49 as eBook readers from other vendors like Barnes & Noble reach the $99 price point. More →
Kobo, purveyor of eReaders and eBook software across a variety of platforms, announced on Tuesday that it will be acquired by Japan-based Rakuten. Rakuten will purchase 100% of outstanding shares of of Kobo for $315 million in cash. Based in Toronto, Ontario, Kobo was spun off of Canadian retailer Indigo in late 2009, and the company has struggled to compete against the likes of Amazon and Barnes & Noble in the eBook space. “We are very excited about this next step,” said Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani in a statement. “Kobo provides one of the world’s most communal eBook reading experiences with its innovative integration of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter; while Rakuten offers Kobo unparalleled opportunities to extend its reach through some of the world’s largest regional e-commerce companies, including Buy.com in the US, Tradoria in Germany, Rakuten Brazil, Rakuten Taiwan, Lekutian in China, TARAD in Thailand, and Rakuten Belanja Online in Indonesia, and of course, Rakuten Ichiba in Japan.” Kobo’s full press release follows below. More →