Archive for May 24, 2011

Survey Finds E-Book Piracy Occurs Among a Surprising Demographic

piracy_ebook_150.jpgDigital piracy. It’s an illicit activity undertaken by college students in their dorm rooms or by teenagers in their parents’ basements, right? Wrong, according to a recent survey by the British law firm Wiggin. Or wrong when it comes to e-book digital piracy at least.

According to the firm’s annual Digital Entertainment Survey, one in eight women over age 35 who owns an e-reader admits to having downloaded an illegal version of an e-book. That compares to just one in 20 women in the same age group who admits to having pirated music.

Saudi Woman Driver Arrested After Posting on YouTube

youtube_150x150.pngA Saudi woman, Manal al-Sharif, has been arrested after posting a video of herself driving on YouTube and Facebook, according to Al Jazeera.

She was taken into custody Saturday, not by the country’s police – driving as a woman is not illegal – but by the mutaween, the “religious police” of Saudi Arabia. Her video provides “proof” of her alleged wrongdoing but it has also made her a cause célèbre.

Cloudshare Makes VM Testing a Snap

This post is part of our ReadWriteCloud channel, which is dedicated to covering virtualization and cloud computing. The channel is sponsored by Intel and VMware. Read the white paper about how Intel Xeon processors help organizations get unprecedented levels of performance.

cloudshare150.jpgOne of the better cloud computing bargains can be found at
“Cloudshare.com. For a reasonable price, corporate IT departments can have up to six individual virtual machines (VMs) in their own private cloud. That is a deal, and makes the pain of software testing a lot more bearable.

There are plenty of cloud providers that don’t charge much for smallish VM collections: Amazon Web Services and Rackspace are just two of dozens that charge by the CPU-hour that a virtual machine is running, and are inexpensive. I found Cloudshare a lot easier to use.

CloudShare has two different pricing tiers. (They used to have a third tier, with three VMs that was absolutely free of charge, but they have eliminated that deal, which is too bad.)

  • The ProPlus package includes up to six VMs and will cost you $49 a month. You can start quickly with a few different Linux (CentOS, Ubuntu) and Windows (Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows XP) pre-made templates. Everything happens inside the Web browser. To populate your VM, you can drag and drop files to move them from your own desktop into the cloud environment. The only catch is that any VM you create can only occupy up to 300 GB storage and 10 GB RAM. It took me a few minutes to bring up my environment for the first time. Subsequent visits took a matter of seconds before I could access my VMs.

    There are a variety of pre-made templates that include SQL Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint, Active Directory, Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 versions on top of the Windows OS, as well as 64-bit and Server 2008 R2 editions too. If you don’t like these templates that Cloudshare provides and want to customize and upload your own VM, you need to start with these basic OS template and make any changes to it on your local desktop using VMware Workstation v7. They call this feature FastUpload but I didn’t test it because it is still in an early beta phase.

  • There is an Enterprise plan that can provide VPNs to access hybrid public/private clouds and even larger VM collections, and the price depends on what the size of your environment will be.

cloudshare.jpg
On the Pro Plus plan, all of your VMs are on a flat network with a single subnet to connect them together and each machine has both a public and private IP address. You can move your data into the cloud via the desktop file sharing for smaller files, or use file transfer protocol for moving the larger sized ones. Since they are VMs, there are some limitations on what you can upload – trying to test out anti-virus tools in the cloud probably isn’t a good idea – but if you need to quickly determine if some application will work on Windows 7, for example, you are spared the pain of setting up a new PC by using Cloudshare.

One of the nicer features of Cloudshare is the ability to quickly share your environment with others. Again, this makes for painless test setups: once you have your VMs in working order, you can share them with a colleague and Cloudshare will make a snapshot and copy and send the link to access the environment via email to your colleague. They have two days of usage before they have to decide whether to take ownership (in which case Cloudshare will create a clone for their own user) or move on. Another nicety is that the user names, passwords, and IP addresses of each VM are all shown alongside the remote terminal window in your browser so you don’t have to fumble around to find this information. It really is designed for the frequent tester.

Cloudshare will help the way enterprises test products, and make IT test departments a lot more productive and cost effective. It can also be used to deliver real-time software demonstrations and training sessions where you need a live working Internet setup to show a particular application. And since everything is done inside a Web browser, it is dirt simple to deploy.

14-day free trial for Pro environment available
Cloudshare Inc.
2929 Campus Drive
Suite 200

San Mateo, CA 94403
Phone: 888.609.4440

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Tell us about your road to the cloud and win a MacBook Air with an Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor. This month’s question:

What is IT-as-a-Service and how do you determine its value for the enterprise?

One of the better cloud computing bargains can be found at Cloudshare.com. For a reasonable price, corporate IT departments can have up to six individual virtual machines (VMs) in their own private cloud. That is a deal, and makes the pain of software testing a lot more bearable.
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Citrix Acquires VDI-in-a-Box Vendor Kaviza

This post is part of our ReadWriteCloud channel, which is dedicated to covering virtualization and cloud computing. The channel is sponsored by Intel and VMware. Read the white paper about how Intel Xeon processors help organizations get unprecedented levels of performance.

Kaviza150.jpgCitrix announced yesterday at its annual Synergy user conference that it has acquired Kaviza, makers of the VDI-in-a-box SMB solution. The announcement gives a boost to both companies, primarily because the dearth of these sorts of solutions are just one of many reasons why VDI implementations aren’t a slam dunk, as Alex Williams has written for us here previously.

VDI has lots of moving parts and multiple strategies to consider, such as a connection broker – the piece of software that connects a remote desktop to a piece of storage to boot themselves up, load balancers to ensure that a network isn’t overloaded at 9:15am every workday when users try to login, provisioning servers that handle new instances of virtual servers, and the storage networks themselves. In the past, VDI implementations usually combined products from a variety of vendors, making it an integration headache.

Kaviza naturally supports XenServer and also VMware ESX, promising Microsoft’s Hyper-V soon. The company claims a solution can be up and running within a few hours, which sounds optimistic.

“Without question, low-cost desktop virtualization in-a-box solutions extend the operational, security and TCO benefits common in large-scale virtual desktop deployments to the small or branch office,” said Chris Wolf, research VP for Gartner.

There are other all-in-one or at least more-in-one bundles available in the marketplace now: Ericom’s PowerTerm, Synchron and Quest Software’s vWorkspace (among others) all offer steps towards a complete package and can start off with attached storage rather than a full SAN deployment.

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Tell us about your road to the cloud and win a MacBook Air with an Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor. This month’s question:

What is IT-as-a-Service and how do you determine its value for the enterprise?

Citrix announced yesterday at its annual Synergy user conference that it has acquired Kaviza, makers of the VDI-in-a-box SMB solution. The announcement gives a boost to both companies, primarily because the dearth of these sorts of solutions are just one of many reasons why VDI implementations aren’t a slam dunk, as Alex Williams has written for us here previously.
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Will Publishers Choose the Open Web Over Apple’s Walled Garden?

More and more magazine publishers are signing up with Apple to offer subscriptions through their iPad apps, including Conde Nast — which rolled out in-app subscriptions for Wired and GQ today — and Hearst. The appeal of that method is obvious: Apple handles the details, and publishers get to keep (most of) the money. But there also seems to be a growing wave of interest in doing an end-run around Apple and using HTML5 and the open web to offer a magazine experience. As other tablets emerge in the market, will more publishers decide to keep their options open and go with the web instead of Apple’s walled garden?

We’ve already seen some magazines experiment with web-based apps instead of the Apple version: Playboy was the most recent example — but its choice was likely dictated as much by the adult-rated content in the publication as it was by any commitment to the open web vs. the closed app economy. Fortune magazine has also announced an HTML5 web version of some of its content, although it is only a specifically targeted feature and not an entire magazine.

There have been other experiments as well, including a “Chrome” version of the New York Times’ web app, which effectively duplicates the user interface of the full app but inside a browser, and a beta feature The Huffington Post launched called NewsGlide that offers something similar for that site. And some publishers are also apparently interested in working with OnSwipe, a startup we profiled recently that offers an easy HTML5 platform incorporating touch interface elements and other features. Founder Jason Baptiste’s motto is that “Apps are bull****” when it comes to content.

Meanwhile, Jeff Sonderman at Poynter reports that a German design team has come up with a full HTML5-based magazine prototype called Aside, which offers an app-like experience in almost every way, but inside a user’s browser:

The Aside “app” has all the elements you would expect from a magazine app, including videos that play inside the content, fly-out menus, page-flipping animations, swipe effects and so on. Unlike many apps, the images can be zoomed as well — and the magazine doesn’t require a gigantic download that takes hours to complete, the way some apps such as Wired’s do. There is some lag in the Aside demo, but it is only a prototype after all, and it is almost indistinguishable from an iPad app in look and feel.

Whether any of these solutions will appeal to mainstream publishers remains to be seen, however. There’s no question that getting into bed with Apple has some fairly substantial benefits for content owners — for one thing, apps are a potential revenue generator, something many publishers are desperate for (although actual subscription numbers have proven to be fairly lackluster for most). And subscribers have also proven to be surprisingly willing to divulge useful marketing information about themselves via these apps, something that was a bone of contention when Apple first launched subscriptions.

All that said, however, a partnership with Apple can be a Faustian bargain for content owners. Not only does Apple get to keep 30 percent of the subscription revenue, which for some smaller publishers can mean the difference between life and death, but it also gets the ultimate say over what content can appear in an app and what can’t. The creators of the Aside prototype mention this specifically as a selling point of using the open web to publish: no one can tell you that your content is not suitable.

For now, the benefits of an Apple relationship arguably outweigh the downsides. But with Android and other platforms becoming a bigger proportion of the tablet and mobile market, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more publishers dipping their toes in the open web as a publishing platform, if only to hedge their bets.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Wesley Fryer

Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req’d):

Microsoft’s Real Windows Phone 7 Problem: Nobody Cares (Yet?) (MSFT, AAPL, GOOG)

Steve Ballmer Microsoft CEO

Image: Dan Frommer, Business Insider

Dan Frommer

See Also:

Steve Jobs riding iPad

Apple store employees

CHART OF THE DAY: Netflix Now Has More Subscribers Than Comcast (And Every Other Cable Company)


Microsoft continues to make improvements to Windows Phone 7, and from a distance, it continues to look good.

(Our reporter Ellis Hamburger attended today’s Microsoft event in NYC, and came away impressed with the new features.)

But Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 problem has never really been its feature set.

The problem is that most people don’t seem to care about it, the way iPhone owners care about their iPhones, the way BlackBerry people used to love their BlackBerries, and the way some people even seem to care about Android.

So now it’s Microsoft’s job to market the heck out of it and make it seem cool.

It needs to explain to consumers why they should buy Windows Phone 7 gadgets instead of Android and BlackBerry and iPhones. (And, via different channels, it needs to explain to handset makers and carriers why they need to invest heavily in the platform.)

So far, Microsoft has started with some TV commercials boasting about instant photo posting to Facebook. That’s fine, but they didn’t come across as a “holy cow, I need this!” type of message.

(And maybe the problem is that there isn’t anything that would create that sense of urgency. In which case, Windows Phones will continue their mediocre sales, and the product people will need to figure out something new and different.)

But either way, this seems like a marketing project now, and less of an engineering project.

Let’s see if Microsoft and its partners can sell these things. Because they’re not selling themselves.

Don’t miss: Everything You Need To Know About Tablets In 15 Simple Charts

WATCH: Here’s How SkyDrive, Microsoft’s Dropbox Killer, Works On Windows Phone 7 (MSFT)

See below for some footage we took today at the Windows Phone 7 “Mango” launch event, where Microsoft revealed many new features coming this fall to Windows Phone 7 users.

For a full list of features and announcements at the event, click here.

In this video, you’ll see SkyDrive, Windows’ cloud storage service, and you’ll also see what happens when you bump into a file type your phone doesn’t recognize.

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Read Bing Gordon’s Poem About TechCrunch Disrupt

Aside from being a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, Bing Gordon writes tech related poetry. When our very own Mike Arrington asked him to write one up on the fly about 45 minutes before he went on stage, this is what he came up with (Disclosure: it’s pretty good).

Chris Dixon apparently has a hunch
That it’s only Internet news if it’s in TechCrunch –
And you can verify this on Wikipedia:
Ashton Kutcher is the Charlie Rose of social media.

The meat-packing district is the new South of Market
So VCs are bringing cash there to park it.
If you make a name for yourself, you’ll get Klout perks
And John Borthwick has proven that Beta actually works.

Rent the Runway, Gilt and Etsy have the New York smarts
To redefine the way we all fill up our shopping carts –
And now even Stanford will put up with Silicon Valley censure
And open a campus to provide entrepreneurs for Union Square Ventures.

You can prove you’re hip enough, and that you’re there
Because Disrupt has a custom check-in on 4 Square
Even Michael Bloomberg has gotten into the act
To support Kristina Salen’s Quest to Learn so education can be hacked.

The Big Apple was overwhelming in 1973
When I arrived from Michigan, it was like OZ to me.
This is a paean to Manhattan, on an Arrington dare –
Because, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!

I’m thinking Jay Z collaboration.

A Print Reader Is Worth 228-Times As Much As An Online Reader — And Other Fun Facts About The New York Times

Janet Robinson

Yes, it sucks. But still, I’m feeling way better than I did in 2009!

Image: Wikimedia via David Shankbone

Henry Blodget

The New York Times’s paywall launch seems to be off to a fine start, with management proudly announcing 100,000 new web-only subscribers shortly after the launch.

If each of those subscribers stick around and pay $15 a month, that’s $18 million of high-margin annual revenue the company just added.

If the company can grow the digital-only subscriber base to, say, 500,000, the impact will be a much more meaningful $90 million a year.

And, of course, the hidden benefit of the paywall will be to discourage print subscribers from cancelling their wildly expensive print subscriptions because they can get the same content online for free. Now, they can’t get the same content online for free, so maybe they’ll hold on to their paper subscriptions a bit longer (or even subscribe to the print edition! Lots of folks have been gloating on Twitter about signing up for the NYT’s “Weekender” package to get a Sunday paper and digital access).

Of course, as we’ve often noted, even if the paywall is wildly successful, it won’t stop the New York Times company from gradually shrinking into a shadow of its former self.

Why?

Because of the old “digital dimes versus analog dollars” problem. The digital business just has a very different revenue and cost structure than the print business, even when the digital business is wildly successful (as the New York Times’s is). And this problem, by the way, will continue to afflict all newspapers, not just the New York Times.

Want details?  We recently dug through the New York Times’s 2010 numbers. Here are some fun facts that we discovered…

  • A Print Reader Is Worth 228X As Much As An Online Reader. The NYT collects an average of $879 of revenue per year for each print reader (wow!). This is composed of $434 of circulation revenue (subscription or newsstand) and $385 of advertising revenue.  Online, meanwhile, before enacting the paywall, the company collected an average of $3.85 per year per average monthly unique user, all of which came from advertising. 
  • The average print reader pays $434 a year to get their daily package of yesterday’s news and ads. $434 is a lot of money, especially when you can get the same news (and fresher news!) online for free.
  • The package of yesterday’s news and ads is so thick that the company still gets $385 a year per print reader from advertisers in the hope that the print-reader’s eyes will momentarily alight on the advertiser’s ad.  We’ve never seen a study of how many ads in a print newspaper a print subscriber actually sees (a tiny fraction of them, we imagine), but advertisers are still shelling out $385 a year to reach each NYT print reader–more than $1 a day.
  • The New York Times has 1.6 million print subscribers, when you include weekdays, Sunday, the International Herald Tribune, and newsstand sales. This total is shrinking slightly each year.
  • Each of these print subscribers contributes total revenue of $879 per year. Add them all together, and the New York Times’s news media division generates revenue of $1.6 billion a year. (This includes $93 million of “Other” revenue).
  • The New York Times’ flagship web site, nytimes.com, gets 45 million unique visitors a month. 32 million of these come from the United States.
  • The NYT’s digital business generated about $175 million of revenue in 2010 (our estimate). This includes nytimes.com, but excludes the web sites of the Boston Globe and other regional newspapers. It also excludes revenue from About.com (which was $136 million). Almost all of this revenue came from advertising.
  • In other words, each of the 45 million monthly visitors to nytimes.com earned the company $3.85 of advertising revenue in the year. That’s $0.32 a month.
  • Bottom line, print readers generate $879 of revenue per year and digital readers generate $3.85.

Now, hypothetically, if the New York Times were to get 1 million new digital subscribers to its paywall (an enormous success), the digital business would generate total revenue of ~$350 million a year.

chart, nytimes, news revenue, expenses, 2002-2010Assuming no change in monthly online readership (45 million), this would equate to average annual revenue per unique of $7.88.

That’s better than today’s $3.85.

But it’s still a far cry from print’s $879.

Of course, 45 million online readers is a lot more readers than 1.6 million print readers, so the NYT can make some of the difference up in volume. And a $350 million digital business is a spectacular business, one that many digital publishers would love to have (we would!).

But $350 million of total digital revenue is still a far cry from the $1.4 billion of print revenue the company generated last year.  And it’s not enough revenue to support a newsroom that costs a reported $200 million a year, let alone produce the $500 million of operating profit the New York Times Company produced in the middle of last decade.

And that’s why we think the New York Times will continue to shrink, no matter how successful the paywall is.

See Also: The Incredible Shrinking New York Times

PCH International Launches Business Accelerator Program; Lark Named First Startup

PCH International is one of those quirky, successful mid-size companies you’ve probably never heard of. For starters, PCH is a Chinese manufacturing company named after a California highway that has headquarters located in Ireland. If you have a lot of gadgets lying around, you’ve probably used one and you may not even know it. PCH designs and produces electronics and gadgets in partnership with major PC manufacturers and consumer electronics brands. The company was raking in $400 million in revenue last year, on top of $41 million in funding raised to date (about half of which was closed in February).

Today, PCH Founder Liam Casey took to the Disrupt NYC stage following Lark Founder Julia Hu to announce that PCH is launching its own business accelerator called, appropriately, “PCH Accelerator” — and that Lark (a Disrupt SF alumni) will be the accelerator’s inaugural startup. LARK is an innovative silent waking system that lets the user wake naturally, according to their own biological clock. The system involves an iPhone app and a small band that you wear across your wrist while sleeping, which, of course, uses the latest science and technology to improve sleep patterns and enhance sleep quality with a personalized sleep coach. It’s great for couples, especially if one side of that relationship is a snorer.

And speaking of relationships, in probably the best moment of the morning, LARK Founder Julia Hu was proposed to by her boyfriend through the slideshow deck on the monitors, and then onstage.

While LARK already had a head start, launching at SF Disrupt last September, PCH Accelerator will be helping to bring startups like LARK from concept to reality, by offering the small startup access to PCH’s unique business model. PCH will be offering 10K feet of new office space in San Francisco, and will be offering office space in China as well. Startups will also be provided with designers, product development engineers, and more.

For those who might be wondering what PCH would bring to your fledgling product or startup, PCH as a business has enabled the disruption of traditional supply chain models, contributing to the success of many of the world’s largest technology brands. On stage, Hu said that Casey and PCH had helped them produce 12 different prototypes of LARK, and when the Japanese earthquake interrupted the supply chain for LARK devices, Casey and PCH were able to find work arounds due to their giant supply chain and deep integration in the market.

To learn more about the PCH Accelerator, check it out here.

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