The UpStream

Book Publishers Inflate E-Book Prices, Amazon Rewards Customers with Refunds

posted Saturday Oct 20, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Book Publishers Inflate E-Book Prices, Amazon Rewards Customers with Refunds

When it comes to Amazon, we usually have very good things to say about their audio and video offerings. Occasionally the company will mess up big time, like in the instance of their weekend AWS outage. However this is one of those times where Amazon will end up looking like heroes without even having to try.

Considering that e-books are a penny business, where every cent literally does count, a lawsuit is the last thing a content provider or publisher could need. Three book publishers are on the paying end of one of these messy settlements, to the tune of 30 cents to $1.32 per e-book purchased between April 2010 and May 2012 from the Amazon Kindle store. Amazon, among other e-book stores, claim that Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, conspired to "fix and raise" the prices of their e-books in order to make more profit. The settlement should be finalized and approved when the trial begins in June 2013 and will place limitations on a publisher's ability to set e-book prices. Amazon customers will receive credits to their Amazon.com accounts but can also request a check be cut if they are eligible.

It should be noted that the settling publishers have denied they did anything wrong but still have agreed to settle outside of court, for $69 million. That's a high price for innocence. Also, Amazon customers aren't the only ones affecting but were the only ones we could find a payout for each e-book. From what the settlement website says (source link below), all e-book stores are eligible for a credit, including Sony, Apple, Kobo, Google and Barnes & Noble's marketplaces.

Here's the email that affected Amazon customers should have received this week.

Dear Kindle Customer,

We have good news. You are entitled to a credit for some of your past e-book purchases as a result of legal settlements between several major e-book publishers and the Attorneys General of most U.S. states and territories, including yours. You do not need to do anything to receive this credit. We will contact you when the credit is applied to your Amazon.com account if the Court approves the settlements in February 2013.

Hachette, Harper Collins, and Simon & Schuster have settled an antitrust lawsuit about e-book prices. Under the proposed settlements, the publishers will provide funds for a credit that will be applied directly to your Amazon.com account. If the Court approves the settlements, the account credit will appear automatically and can be used to purchase Kindle books or print books. While we will not know the amount of your credit until the Court approves the settlements, the Attorneys General estimate that it will range from $0.30 to $1.32 for every eligible Kindle book that you purchased between April 2010 and May 2012. Alternatively, you may request a check in the amount of your credit by following the instructions included in the formal notice of the settlements, set forth below. You can learn more about the settlements here: www.amazon.com/help/agencyebooksettlements

In addition to the account credit, the settlements impose limitations on the publishers' ability to set e-book prices. We think these settlements are a big win for customers and look forward to lowering prices on more Kindle books in the future.

Thank you for being a Kindle customer.

The Amazon Kindle Team

League of Legends Flys Under Radar, is Now Most Played Video Game in the World

posted Saturday Oct 20, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

<i>League of Legends</i> Flys Under Radar, is Now Most Played Video Game in the World

Either I have been living under a rock or color me one who is not a fan of things that look like World of Warcraft but until last month, I did not know the online, free-to-play game League of Legends existed. It may be a combination of both because the game is apparently the largest game in the world, at least statistically. The two-teamed online battle arena video game has been popular since it's release three years ago and has taken the world by storm with its dueling gameplay, despite my incorrect notions of level 90 Paladins that I imagined roaming through the game. In fact, the game is so big that Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends, posted an infographic with some interesting figures, which they seem to like to do annually.

The studio used many different sources to gather its stats and said that the real-time strategy game hit an average of 3 million users who were online at the same time in July, which smoked the peak count of 1.4 million players from the Xbox 360 version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Riot Games also noted that 12 million players will roll through the game's servers each and every day, and 32 million players sign in every month. To put that into perspective, during World of Warcraft's best month, it only had a total of 12 million players. Currently, League of Legends has 70 million registrations, but to be fair I must reiterate that it is a free-to-play game.

We have a couple more notable statistics and the complete infographic after the break.

Windows Phone 8 Event on Heels of Windows 8 Launch

posted Friday Oct 19, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Windows Phone 8 Event on Heels of Windows 8 Launch

Microsoft is making October a month to remember. This week marked the official debut of Xbox Music on the Xbox 360. The launch comes along with the release of the Fall update to the Xbox LIVE dashboard, introducing Internet Explorer, among others, to the console. October 26th will bring the launch of Windows 8 as well as their entry into computer hardware, Microsoft Surface, complete with Office 2012. This launch also comes along with Xbox Smartglass, Microsoft's Xbox companion for windows 8.

In an attempt to ensure every major Microsoft property is represented this month, three days after the official launch of Windows 8, Microsoft will be holding a press event to show off more of what we can expect for Windows Phone 8. We are expected to really get our hands on the much anticipated Nokia and HTC Windows Phones, as well as hopefully see what Samsung and other have planned.

What I am hoping for is a demonstration of the new Xbox Music for Windows Phone as well as the integrations with Windows 8. I also desperately want to hear a date - any date - mentioned. It could be a pre-order date or the official launch date. I want to see handsets on all 4 major networks (we know of Nokias for both AT&T and T-Mobile, as well as rumor of a Lumia 822 for Verizon), with a better selection than those of the initial launch of Windows Phone 7. If Microsoft and their partners are smart, they will have at least one handset from each manufacturer on each network to ensure no one is left out.

What are you hoping to see from Microsoft at the event? Let us know in the comments section.

Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, Slams Microsoft and Windows 8

posted Friday Oct 19, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, Slams Microsoft and Windows 8

Marc Benioff is known to be a loud-mouth, talking about the industry from a position of expertise, while saying things that can be surprising. He once called out Oracle, his former employer, after changing the schedule for an event and canceling his keynote address, for producing and pushing an outdated technology. Obviously no one at Oracle was happy about this statement, and no one at Microsoft is going to be thrilled about his statement this week.

At Cloudforce, a convention promoting the use of cloud-based technologies, Benioff went a little off-script during a press conference and made some pretty blunt statements about Microsoft and their soon to be released Windows 8. In specific, he said Windows 8 was not going to be successful for Microsoft.

Windows 8 is the gambit - will (CIOs) upgrade, or will they do something else? It's the end of Windows... Windows is irrelevant.

What Benioff doesn't seem to realize is that Windows 8 is an operating system unlike any other out there. It is designed with touch in mind, but to be able to be used with a mouse. It will run on Intel, AMD and ARM processors, meaning desktops, laptops and tablets. The OS supports new Modern UI applications as well as existing applications. Hundreds of thousands of applications have been written to work on Windows that enterprises already use that cannot be easily replaced by an Android app. It also allows employees who are generally unfamiliar with computers to use the same software on their laptop/desktop and on-the-go.

While cloud-based software is nice and can level the playing field under some circumstances, it is a lot more difficult to use when you are without Internet access. I believe there is a place for both basic mobile devices, such as the iPad, and sophisticated mobile devices, such as the Surface, launching with Windows 8. The idea that anyone in the technology industry could think that there is no place for a mobile-friendly version of Windows in the enterprise market should probably retire because their judgment is obviously compromised.

MacOS X Just Works - After Tricking It

posted Friday Oct 19, 2012 by Scott Ertz

MacOS X Just Works - After Tricking It

On Wednesday of this week, Apple pushed out an "update" to Lion and Mountain Lion, removing Java support from all browsers installed on the computer. It also uninstalls the Java preferences application, as it is not needed to set preferences for a framework that is not installed. This leaves the computer completely unable to interact with any Java-based software on the Internet in its current state. When getting to Java software, the user will be presented with a placeholder, similar to a new computer that does not yet have Flash installed, that informs the user that there is a plug-in missing. To use that website, the user will have to re-install Java.

Yes, Apple is not preventing you from using Java on the computer, they are just making it a more difficult process. This is part of Apple's war on the Internet, which started with Mobile Flash being absent from the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Unlike Apple's dislike of Adobe, which they are almost single-handedly responsible for being successful, this move has less to do with hurting a former lover and more to do with appearing to not be responsible for MacOS X's security issues.

Earlier in the year, Apple had a lot of problems with security issues, provided almost entirely by Oracles Java framework. In fact, Java is known within the software industry as a disaster when it comes to security. It is one of the easiest ways for an outside system to access your computer and take over its operations. Oracle had to rush out a patch to the Apple version of the framework after it was learned that there was a MASSIVE security hole, and Apple did the same, patching holes in the OS that were exposed through Java.

I believe that Apple believes that, without Java pre-installed on the operating system, that people will not blame Apple for future holes in software that they are forced to download and install themselves. My guess is they will also be able to get away with not patching holes as quickly if users are led to believe it is their own fault their computer was hijacked. This does bring to light more evidence that Apple's computers are not the Fort Knox that owners are led to believe. Until now Apples were only safe because there were only 8 of them in the wild and no one was going to spend their time writing any code for them, let alone malicious. As more people purchase the computers for their perceived security, they become bigger security risks. Classic catch 22, eh?

SoftBank to Acquire 70% Of Sprint

posted Friday Oct 19, 2012 by Scott Ertz

SoftBank to Acquire 70% Of Sprint

Last week's discussions apparently paid off and Sprint has announced that SoftBank will purchase 70% of Sprint for a total of $20.1 billion. This purchase now values Sprint at $28.7 billion, far below AT&T's offer of $39 billion for T-Mobile, the next smaller network. $12.1 billion of the total will be distributed to stockholders, while the remaining $8 billion will go directly into the new company to help capitalize expenses. The new corporation will be known as New Sprint.

There has been a lot of concern over Sprint's financial health, driven primarily by the amount of cash they have sunk into their failing WiMax partner Clearwire. This $8 billion in cash could help them finally buy Clearwire out of the partnership, as well as help finance their own LTE expansion. This could be accomplished through standard network expansion or through a buyout of MetroPCS.

Clearly SoftBank is thinking LTE when it comes to this merger. Hit the break to see what their CEO has to say about the future of Sprint.

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