OPLIN 4cast #381: Little, special websites

April 16th, 2014

Heartbleed logoIf you haven’t heard of the Heartbleed bug, we can’t imagine where you’ve been all week. The Heartbleed name and logo seemed to be everywhere on the web (it’s even here with this blog post), and the news about this serious Internet vulnerability spread very quickly. As the first article listed below points out, this was mostly because the news of the bug was intelligently “marketed,” with its own name, logo, and dedicated website. The use of a small, dedicated website – usually called a “microsite” – for a particular piece of information is a well-established digital marketing technique, so well-established that some think it is losing its power. Yet libraries seldom if ever use this simple, but effective technique: If you are doing something special, give it its own little website.

  • What Heartbleed can teach the OSS community about marketing (Kalzumeus blog/Patrick McKenzie)  “People will generally try to link to something to describe a project / vulnerability / etc, and having an easy and obviously linkable canonical description is both best for clarity and best for your own personal interests as the project/etc creator. Heartbleed.com is the canonical explanation of Heartbleed, both because people trust $8.95 domain names and because it was first published, came with a design/logo and comprehensive information, and is suitably authoritative in character.”
  • Content marketing with microsites: Pros, con, examples & best practices (TopRank blog/Nicolette Beard)  “For our purposes, microsites refer to a site that is associated with an organization, but is on a separate domain or subdomain and has its own navigation, design and content. Consumers are much more sophisticated today and want in-depth information, but they also want it quickly. Microsites provide a lightweight alternative to corporate websites, which are often loaded with extraneous content that doesn’t meet the exact need of the visitor.”
  • Landing pages or microsites? The debate rages on! (Percussion blog/Karo Kilfeather)  “If you understand that the buying process around your product or service is lengthy and complex, microsites are a great way to serve up content that becomes an experiential tasting menu for your prospective customer. Whereas with a landing page you get to ‘yes’ or ‘no’ right away, with a microsite, you can give a customer reasons to keep coming back, until she has a sense of your brand, a deeper desire for your offering, and is ready to buy.”
  • The end of microsites (ClickZ/Marko Muellner)  “With the amount of change and complexity in digital marketing today, it feels like marketers are bringing knives to a gun fight – we just don’t have the tools or knowledge to keep up with consumers and it gets harder everyday to prove and improve the value we deliver to the business. Indeed, the traditional digital microsite with its full-screen option, rich desktop experience, built in Flash with video, animation, and game-like interactivity is dying. The cost and effort to value just isn’t there anymore. Even Facebook apps, the social-era equivalent to brand microsites, are near death.”

Relation fact:
Randall Craig has posted a pretty good explanation of the various ways you can relate (or not) a microsite to your full website or to Facebook.

OPLIN 4cast #380: The decline of the ebook?

April 9th, 2014

printing pressAfter we wrote a post about the woes of the e-reader industry a couple of weeks ago, we saw an article in the British press this past week (first link below) about the predicted decline of the ebook itself. Are ebooks in trouble, too? Could this be true? Is this just something that’s happening in Britain? No, it turns out that this is kind of old news, based on sales figures from the end of last year. And as is the case with many predictions, this one is a point of debate.

  • Waterstones founder: e-book revolution will soon go into decline (The Telegraph/Hannah Furness)  “‘I think you read and hear more garbage about the strength of the e-book revolution than anything else I’ve known,’ Mr Waterstone [founder of the Waterstone’s bookstore chain] told the audience in Oxford. ‘The e-books have developed a share of the market, of course they have, but every indication – certainly from America – shows the share is already in decline. The indications are that it will do exactly the same in the UK.’”
  • A mixed blessing in slowing e-book sales (Publishers Weekly/Jim Milliot)  “The slowdown, of course, didn’t come as a surprise, for as HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray told PW, ‘Nothing grows by triple digits for too long.’ The positive side of slowing e-book sales is that the decline of print books has slowed, prompting many of those interviewed to hope that the industry is entering a more stable and predictable period, one that will lead to a wide number of distribution channels to facilitate book sales regardless of format.”
  • Paper vs digital reading is an exhausted debate (The Guardian/Nick Harkaway)  “Digital will continue to grow for a while at least, and continue to exist, because it is becoming part of the world we inhabit at a level below our notice, no more remarkable than roads or supermarkets. Ebooks are here to stay because digital is, and quite shortly we’ll stop having this debate about paper vs ebooks because it will no longer make a lot of sense.”
  • How are declining ebook sales a ‘mixed blessing’? (Liquid State/Dee Caffrey)  “Just because one format is seeing a slight decline of sales (after the skyrocketing figures that ebooks have produced in the last 5 years), does not mean that the people no longer buying ebooks are now inexplicably turning to print books. That just doesn’t make sense. Nor are new consumers suddenly opening ereaders or print books, because this industry is already a fairly mature one – chances are, people who weren’t previously interested in books are not going to spontaneously flock to ebooks just because the format has changed. People who love books are most likely already in their format of choice, and no amount of new ereader technology will change that.”

Hunger fact:
The various organizations that track ebook publishing statistics almost all point to the fact that strong sales of The Hunger Games in 2012 skewed the numbers so much that 2013 looked bad in comparison.

OPLIN 4cast #379: More Wi-Fi

April 2nd, 2014

Wi-Fi library symbolOn Monday, the FCC announced that they would expand the amount of broadcast spectrum available for use by Wi-Fi devices in order to reduce Wi-Fi congestion at hot spots like “…convention centers, parks, and airports…” [and libraries, too]. This is an important change, since cellular wireless companies are increasingly offloading part of their traditional cellular traffic onto Wi-Fi hotspots. The latest Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast anticipates that over half of global mobile traffic will be offloaded onto Wi-Fi by 2018. Maybe it’s time to upgrade your wireless routers.

  • FCC Frees Up Spectrum to Boost Wi-Fi Speeds (PCMAG/Chloe Albanesius)  “Specifically, the commission voted to free up 100 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band. Gadgets currently operate in 555 MHz of the 5 GHz band, so the move provides a bit more breathing room and should ease congestion. Devices that operate in the 5 GHz band include Wi-Fi hotspots and wireless home local area networks. The agency also removed an indoor-only restriction, which will support deployment of outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots.”
  • Open up your routers: FCC boosts spectrum available to Wi-Fi by 15 percent (GigaOM/Kevin Fitchard)  “The airwaves in the 5 GHz band have always been unlicensed, but they’ve had much more stringent rules attached to them to prevent devices from interfering with other users, specifically government telemetry networks and Globalstar’s satellite ground links. In 2013, though, the Defense Department said it no longer needed the band. Earlier this year Globalstar reached an agreement with the FCC that would open the band up to both satellite and Wi-Fi use, clearing the way for today’s decision.”
  • More Wi-Fi is better: FCC expands use of 5GHz spectrum (Ars Technica/Cyrus Farivar)  “With this change, the agency says that Wi-Fi routers will be able to handle more traffic at higher speeds. At present, Wi-Fi only occupies part of the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. […] The Wi-Fi Alliance did not immediately respond to Ars’ query about when consumers could expect new products that would take advantage of this increased capability.”
  • Unlicensed, Wi-Fi services set for 100 megahertz boost (RCRWireless/Dan Meyer)  “Unlicensed spectrum uses are currently tied to 555 megahertz in the 5 GHz band, though there are limitations for indoor use only. The Wi-Fi usage in that band is typically signified by the 802.11a standard. The FCC said the modified rules will remove the indoor-only restriction and provide more access in the 5.15-5.25 GHz band and allow the Wi-Fi industry greater leeway in implementing the 802.11ac standard, which accesses both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.”

802.11ac fact:
If you have no idea what “802.11ac” means, Pocketnow’s Joe Levi has posted a nice discussion of the various wireless networking standards.

OPLIN 4cast #378: E-reader woes

March 26th, 2014

e-reader app iconsLibraries should probably be happy that they are not in the e-reader hardware business. While libraries have plenty of issues when it comes to ebooks themselves, at least they’re not losing money trying to sell dedicated e-reader devices, which seems to be happening more frequently to some big-name companies. With e-reader apps on other computing devices taking more and more of the market share, we’re beginning to see some consequences for the dedicated e-reader device industry.

  • Sony exits the North American ebook business and gives its customers to Kobo (GigaOM/Laura Hazard Owen)  “In addition, Kobo’s Android app ‘will be pre-loaded on select Sony Xperia smartphones and tablets,’ according to Sony’s official announcement, released in conjunction with its quarterly earnings. […] The news isn’t much of a surprise since Sony had said last fall it wouldn’t bother selling its new e-reader in North America, citing ‘the region’s market changes’ (i.e., competition from Amazon and, to a lesser extent, Barnes & Noble and Kobo).”
  • Commentary – If I was in charge of the Sony e-reader or Reader store (Good E-Reader/Michael Kozlowski)  “When the company first started releasing e-readers they basically had no competition. Within four years they had hundreds of competitors, and they were caught unprepared for how fast the industry had grown in the few short years. In the past, Sony would always release three new e-readers a year and for the last three years has only issued one.”
  • Microsoft and Nook redo their agreement; no Microsoft e-reader in the works (ZDNet/Mary Jo Foley)  “It is rather confusingly named ‘Microsoft Consumer Reader.’ This is not a dedicated e-reader, I hear from my sources. […] Instead, I think this is just the name for one of Microsoft’s coming e-reading apps. There seem to be at least two of these apps in the works. The Microsoft Office Reader app, which company officials showed off last year at an employee meeting, will provide users with access to digital content, PDFs and textbooks, according to leaks. The Xbox team also is believed to be readying a reading app. It’s not clear whether this is the same or different from the Office Reader.”
  • Undeterred by failing Nook, Barnes & Noble will launch new model this year (Ars Technica/Cyrus Farivar)  “Despite the fact that Nook sales plummeted by 66 percent during the 2013 holiday season, struggling book retailer Barnes & Noble isn’t giving up on its e-reader. In fact, the company will be putting more effort into its e-reader in the near future. In its latest quarterly earnings report, company CEO Michael P. Huseby announced Barnes & Noble would unveil a new Nook device in the coming months.”

Contrary fact:
While sales of some e-readers have been weak, the percentage of adults that have dedicated e-readers went from 24% last September to 32% after the holidays, according to January survey data.