December 4th, 2013
After Christmas every year, public libraries commonly have a lot of patrons bring their new gadgets to the library to ask for help in connecting to the Internet, loading ebooks, or doing any number of other things, thinking that the librarians will know more about the new devices than they do. More and more often, that device is a tablet computer, and if early holiday sales are any indication, that will be especially true this year, as tablets are grabbing a huge portion of the market. Those sales numbers are important for libraries to notice, because they tell us what types of devices people will be using to access online library services. So how well does your library website work on a tablet computer?
- Samsung tablet sales goes past 10 million for the first time in Q3, 2013 (States Chronicle/Jason Setrakian) “Cumulative tablet sales figures for Samsung up to the third quarter have been reported to be 28 million units. In 2012, the total sales of tablet PC by Samsung had been 16.6 million units. Analysts believe the company can end up selling twice the number of tablet devices it has sold last year if it is able to maintain the sales rate it has achieved till the third quarter.”
- Walmart reports hot Black Friday tablet sales led by iPad mini (BGR/Chris Smith) “Walmart’s top sellers include big screen TVs and laptops, with the retailer singling out certain hot products such as the iPad mini, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and the Call of Duty: Ghosts game. Online, hand-held video games and SLR digital cameras were among the most popular items. Interestingly, Walmart said it sold over 1.4 million tablets during its Black Friday sale led by the iPad mini.”
- Canalys: Half of all PCs shipped in 2014 will be tablets; Android 65%, Apple 30% (TechCrunch/Ingrid Lunden) “Leading the charge will be tablets built on Android – which collectively will account for 65% of all tablets shipped (185 million units) with Samsung at the helm. Apple, with its growing line of iPad devices, will remain the single-biggest tablet brand, taking 30% of the market – and, significantly, the most profitable.”
- Samsung looking to eclipse Apple and ship 100 million tablets in 2014 (GSMArena/Ian) “…in Q3 2013…Samsung was able to ship almost 10 million units, an increase of 123% over the same period in 2012. For the same time period, Apple was able to increase its year-over-year growth by only 0.6%, and saw its market share fall from just over 40% in 3Q12 to 29.6% in 3Q13. According to ETNews out of Korea, Samsung is in talks with several Korean panel makers to ensure it will have enough supply as it anticipates to eclipse its 2013 figures by more than two-fold.”
Tech market consulting company Canalys predicts that the Microsoft Surface tablet will double its market share from 2012 to 2014, but still have only 5% of all tablet sales.
November 27th, 2013
As you venture out to the stores this week – or jump online – to do your Christmas shopping, take a second to look at the number of plastic cards you have in your wallet: not just credit cards, but gift cards, customer loyalty cards, and of course your library card(s). Various tech businesses, including Google, have tried to reduce the plastic clutter in our wallets by using the smartphones most people carry everywhere, but since the plastic card is so convenient, none of these new ideas has become popular. Now a new startup, called Coin, proposes to let you store the data from many cards on one card that can be swiped through a magnetic reader just like a standard credit card. Most libraries use a barcode rather than a magnetic stripe on their patron cards, but if Coin is very successful, libraries may see some patron demand for magnetic readers in libraries so people don’t have to carry a special piece of plastic just for the library.
- Tired of a fat wallet? Coin lets you hold all your cards in a single, connected card (VentureBeat/Devindra Hardawar) “Simply swipe your cards using a card dongle like Square’s, take a picture of their front and back, and Coin’s app securely stores all of the card information for you. You can hold up to eight cards on the Coin card at once, which you can cycle through using a small button and display on the front of the card (an unlimited amount of additional cards can be swapped over from the Coin app). Paying is as simple as swiping like a normal credit card.”
- Coin launches a crowdfunding campaign for a card that replaces every swipeable card in your wallet (The Next Web/Nick Summers) “Each Coin will retail for $100, but you can reserve one for half that price if you get in early. In addition, there’s a $5 discount for every friend you refer. The first units are expected to ship in the summer of next year. In short, this is a card to replace all of your cards. Until mobile payment apps are truly commonplace across the world, Coin seems like the best alternative.”
- Why was the launch of Coin so successful? (Forbes/Brian Roemmele) “Coin set its sights on $50,000 to fund the development and production of the proof of concept wallet-like product. This goal was met in 47 minutes on the afternoon of November 14th, 2013. This represents at least 1,000 confirmed pre-orders.”
- Coin to strengthen security of all-in-one credit card (CNET/Nick Statt) “Many critics of Coin were quick to point out the obvious security issues with a programmable – hence, hackable – device that contains heaps of personal financial data. The company is remaining steadfast in its reliance on 128- and 256-bit encryption that spans its servers, its mobile app, and the device itself. But it’s now addressing the fraud concern by building in an alarm that keeps track of how many times the card is swiped.”
If the collection of library cards we keep in the OPLIN office is any indication, only about 3% of Ohio public libraries issue patron cards that have magnetic stripes.
November 20th, 2013
About two weeks ago, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released a report entitled Broadband and Jobs: African Americans Rely Heavily on Mobile Access and Social Networking in Job Search. The report presents data from a May survey indicating that half of African American Internet users think the Internet is an important tool for finding a job, compared to about a third of all Internet users. But among African Americans who had used the Internet for job searching, almost half said they used their smartphone. Is this a good thing? While it likely means they are using social networking to increase their chances of finding a job, it could also mean they are passing up job searching tools that do not work well on a smartphone.
- African Americans, jobs and the Internet (Talking Technology/Leroy Jones) “Dr. Horrigan [Senior Research Fellow at the Joint Center] discussed the report’s findings at length, relating it to other data concerning broadband adoption and use. As he noted, African-Americans in particular seem to be interested in more than just search engines. They are increasingly using social networking to expand their network of job contacts and improve the probability of finding out about job opportunities.”
- Internet a critical job search tool for blacks, Joint Center study finds (Afro Briefs/Zenitha Prince) “Also, 35 percent of African Americans who were out of work within the past six years said they have used social networking sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook to look for a job, compared to 25 percent for all respondents. And, 47 percent of African Americans said they have used a smartphone for job hunting, compared to 36 percent of Latinos and 24 percent of Whites. Another key finding was that those who felt most confident about their digital skills were more likely to use the Web. Advocates said this suggests that increased access to broadband and expanded digital literacy is necessary to mitigate high rates of unemployment—especially since many employers are now posting jobs online only.”
- Broadband and jobs: African Americans rely heavily on mobile access and social networking in job search [pdf] (Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies) “Although smartphones make overall access levels for African Americans and Latinos comparable to levels for white Americans, home broadband adoption levels for African Americans and Latinos still lag behind the national average. Given that a larger screen (e.g., on a desktop or laptop) can be helpful in looking for job ads or filling out applications, alternative places to use the Internet such as libraries or community centers are still worthwhile even as mobile access increases.”
- Putting a face on the Joint Center report (The Law and Politics of Broadband/Alton Drew) “It is tempting to argue that there is a failure in the market for laptops or personal computers, but it is difficult to draw that conclusion where the consumer opts for a $600 smart phone and a $60 a month data plan. Have American consumers with no broadband and computer at home been kept out of the laptop/wired broadband-at-home market or have they chosen to stay out? As the labor market continues to erect these technical barriers to employment, we will need more than government policies that promote literacy skills or call for more computers in a library. Wireless companies discontinuing subsidies of smart phones would be a start.”
As the quotes above indicate, the Joint Center study found that public libraries are still very important Internet access points: “While the survey found that 15% of all adults had used the Internet at a public library in the previous 12 months, that figure was 21% for African Americans and 23% for Latinos. For poor Americans (those with household incomes less than $15,000 per year), 24% have used the Internet at a public library in the past year.”
November 13th, 2013
Librarians have often faced the problem of explaining the need to pay for subscriptions to online magazines, journals, and authoritative information resources. People seem to think that good online information can be accessed for free, and currently a lot of good information can indeed be had online for no charge. But in the words of the Libraries Connect Ohio website, “Authoritative information has never been and will never be free.” Most “free” information is currently subsidized by advertising on the website, but the ad-supported revenue model is beginning to weaken. As people become more accustomed to paying for online video, music, and gaming content, text content is now increasingly turning to the subscription revenue model, too, with newspapers worldwide being the most visible example.
- News Corp says online news can make money (The Australian/Greg Roberts) “Australians continue to buy fewer hard copy newspapers, with domestic mastheads such as The Australian, Herald Sun and others responsible for 70 per cent of that fall and newspaper circulation and subscription revenues down 6.0 per cent. Many of the newspaper websites are now behind paywalls as it tries to monetise increasing online readerships, which have not been matched by online ad revenue. […] Chief executive Robert Thompson told analysts in a teleconference in the US that while ad revenues had to rise the company wanted to become less ad-dependent and more subscription focused.”
- Digital subscriptions to the Times and Sunday Times top 150,000 (The Guardian/Josh Halliday) “Emma Tucker, the recently-appointed Times deputy editor, described the figures as ‘incredibly exciting’ for the future of the title. ‘The paywall was a real challenge for everybody in the paper to get it to fly so this shows a great belief in paid-for content,’ she said. ‘We had detractors [when the Times launched its paywall in 2010] but these figures show you can make a success of it.’ Tucker said she believed there is now less hostility to paid-for models than three years ago, when its paywall divided industry opinion in the absence of a a clear cut digital business model for general interest newspapers.”
- Digital subscription gains outpace print decline for Chicago Tribune (Chicago Tribune/Robert Channick) “One year after launching its online pay wall, the Tribune is clearly gaining some digital traction. The newspaper said it has more than 693,000 registered users on chicagotribune.com, which is up from about 230,000 a year ago. Traffic on the website averaged more than 116 million monthly page views, up nearly 12 percent over last year, according to executives.”
- Are the days of free content on the net numbered? (BBC News/Orin Gordon) “[Computer science engineer Robert] Cailliau thinks that monthly subscriptions are too expensive and restrictive. He says the pay-as-you-go mobile phone model is a great one for online content. ‘When you send an SMS, you pay a small amount of money. Each individual action should be billed individually,’ he says. ‘My browser should pay you automatically a cent or two cents per page without me feeling it. I should not have to prepay a large amount of money. Why re-invent? The telephone already does that. We already have a worldwide system that’s capable of billing the customer for every move he makes.’”
According to 2012 data compiled by the Newspaper Association of America, newspaper advertising revenue declined 6%, circulation revenue increased 5% (and digital-only circulation revenue grew 275%), and about 10% of all newspaper revenue now comes from new revenue sources, such as consulting fees for helping local businesses market their products online.