The BBC is developing an app that will allow its reporters in the field to file video, stills and audio directly into the BBC system from an iPhone or iPad. The software is being adapted for the Apple phones from an existing app used by the BBC and is due to be in use within around a month. As part of a new strategy which will see the broadcaster focus on getting the most out of smartphone technology, it is also aiming to obtain iPhone licenses for existing app Luci Live, allowing reporters to broadcast live from the phone using 3G signal. Martin Turner, head of operations for newsgathering, said developing the software for iPhone was “a logical extension of what the BBC can do already” but added that it was a “significant development”. “Reporters have been using smart phones for a while now but it was never good quality. Now it is beginning to be a realistic possibility to use iPhones and other devices for live reporting, and in the end if you’ve got someone on the scene then you want to be able to use them.” He added that the development was part of a wider strategy at the broadcaster to make better use of smartphones in its field reporting.
Apple’s dominance of the mobile application space is a “threat” to the openness of the internet, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has said. Wales made his comments while taking part in events to mark the 10th anniversary of the collaborative online encyclopedia at Bristol University. His concerns stem from the way Apple controls the distribution of apps for the iOS platform, which he believes constitutes a “closed system”.
“The concern is that in order to make software and distribute it for free, you have to get permission from Apple so that chokepoint is very dangerous and something I’m concerned about. When you own a device and you want to give someone that software, you should not have to get permission from someone else and I think that is a very important thing,” said Wales.
“People talk about net neutrality as an issue but the real action is in thinking about whether apps are a threat to the openness of the system,” he continued.
Wales seemed to play down the importance of the net neutrality debate, saying that many of the arguments involved purely hypothetical dangers that in reality pose no immediate threat. He also admitted to the BBC in a separate interview that Wikipedia, though in theory open to anyone who wishes to contribute, is too complicated for many people to edit and modify.
It isn’t just Wales that has raised objections to the App Store this week – Microsoft has raised objections to Apple’s trademarking of the term ‘App Store’, arguing that it is too generic to be trademarked.
Apple Inc unveiled a smaller, cheaper version of its Web-to-TV device on Wednesday, stepping up a battle with Google Inc and Microsoft Corp for control of the digital living room. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs also rolled out a completely overhauled lineup of iPod media players and the latest version of iTunes, with a new logo that does away with the outdated image of a CD. The new Apple TV device, which accesses content from the Internet and plays it on a TV, will sell for USD 99. It is a quarter the size of the original, which cost USD 229. The 4-inch-square device allows users to rent TV shows for 99 cents and first-run films for USD 4.99. Earlier models, which allowed users to only buy shows, failed to find a major audience. Alongside renting TV shows and movies, Apple TV users will be able to stream content from video rental site Netflix Inc. Analysts were lukewarm toward the device, though some saw it as only a small, initial step in a much more ambitious plan
Ping – Apple’s new social media network, will allow users to follow friends’ music interests working in a stream of updates similar way to Facebook or Twitter Having cornered the MP3 player, mobile phone and computer tablet markets with the iPod, iPhone and iPad devices respectively, last night Apple announced its latest expansion – into social media – with Ping. Ping will be integrated into Apple’s latest iTunes software update and will enable users, or “Pingers”, to follow musicians, friends and others to see details including what music they’re buying and what concerts they’re attending. Steve Jobs, Apple’s chairman and chief executive, said the information will arrive in a long stream of updates, similar to the way Facebook and Twitter work. “Be as private or as public as you want. The privacy is super-easy to set up,” he said adding that users can choose to automatically accept followers or decide on a follower-by-follower basis – similar sounding controls to those on Twitter. The service is available immediately to more than 160 million iTunes users, Jobs said, and will also be available across the iPhone and iPod Touch ranges.
Google is reportedly preparing to launch a music download and streaming service. A Wall Street Journal report cited unnamed sources in claiming that the company was working with music industry groups in preparation for a music download service set for release later this year. A streaming subscription service is also reportedly set to launch some time next year. The move would put Google in competition with Apple’s highly successful iTunes music store. The PC and handset-based service has staked its claim as the top music retailer in the world and served up more than 10 billion song downloads in its seven years on the market. The launch of a music service would also expand the areas in which Apple and Google find themselves in direct competition.
Facebook is the most visited site on the internet according to Google’s latest data. The site logged 570 billion page views in April, reaching 35.2 per cent of the total internet population. The next most popular site was Yahoo, with 490 billion page views and 31.8 per cent of the market. While Google’s data doesn’t include its own sites the full list does provide some fascinating insights into web search behavior. Microsoft’s Live site scooped third place but the open source Wikipedia claimed fourth, with one out of every five internet users visiting the crowd-sourced encyclopedia. The organisations latest upsets do not seem to have hurt the site’s credibility. Chinese search giant Baidu took eight place, reflecting its dominant position in its home market, with the official government news site of China, sina.com.cn, taking eleventh place. Mozilla came in 10th with 140 million page views while Apple languished in 27th place with barely half that number of visitors.
Sony Corp said on Thursday it would launch an e-reader and online content distribution service in Japan by year-end, taking on rival Apple Inc whose iPad hits shelves in the country on Friday. The maker of PlayStation games and Bravia flat TVs said it also plans to launch its e-book operations in China, Australia, Spain and Italy this year. Sony’s Reader electronics book reader, which vies with Amazon.com’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, is available in the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The debut of the iPad, a computing and entertainment system that also functions as an e-reader, is expected to boost Japan’s still-small e-book market, which Chimera Research Institute expects to double to about USD 1bn in four years. Sony has partnered with telecoms operator KDDI Corp, printing firm Toppan Printing Co and the Asahi Shimbun newspaper to set up a planning company to prepare for the service, which will offer book, comic, magazine and newspaper content.
Jake Lee knew he would have a long, cold night ahead – but wasn’t troubled: the 17-year-old from Theydon Bois, Essex had his father’s thick coat – plus the assurance of being the first to buy an Apple iPad at the company’s Regent Street store in London when it opens its doors at 8am tomorrow.
“I didn’t order online because I wanted to get the experience of buying it, of being in the queue,” said Lee, who has been saving from his part-time job after school “for months” to be able to afford the £429 low-end version.
Yet judging by the length – or brevity – of the queue outside the store, which by mid-afternoon comprised just five people, Apple’s latest offering – a 9-inch touchscreen tablet computer operated like its hit iPhone – is not drawing the crowds in the same way as previous product launches, which attracted scores of patient buyers.
However, online demand has apparently been strong: Apple was this week warning people who ordered iPads through its website that delivery may be put back to 7 June. It has already delayed the international launch of the iPad, which Steve Jobs showed off in January, by a month after strong sales in the US used up production capacity. So far it has sold more than 1m of the machines, which means it is already the single largest maker of tablet computers this year – capturing a market that Bill Gates, of Microsoft, tried and failed to create and corner in 2001.
Sales in the US have outstripped expectations , where the 1m mark was reached only 28 days after the 2 April launch, compared with 74 days for the iPhone.
Peter Buckley, the British author of the Rough Guide to the iPad, who has been using a US-bought model for the past five weeks, says that while it cannot replace a laptop machine for producing content, it is an ideal machine for a new era of “sofa computing”.
Critics have focused on the price, which ranges from £429 to £699, and point out that “netbook” computers with full keyboards are available for about £350.
There has also been criticism of Apple’s use of the Chinese electronics manufacturer Foxconn, where 10 people have apparently committed suicide this year due to work pressure. Simon Middleton, a brand expert, said: “I think we need to call on Apple to take the leadership role in its sector and to form a coalition of companies who would specify, monitor and maintain the highest standards of worker conditions: and to insist that the suppliers they deal with comply.” Foxconn workers claim that they have to work up to 15-hour shifts, and that the company has put up a huge safety net around the factory to prevent roof suicides.
Rival companies are also looking to build on Apple’s lead by launching their own tablet machines: the Joojoo, made by the Thailand-based Fusion Garage, launched in April, while HP is expected to launch models later this year using Palm’s WebOS software, having acquired the company last month. Other companies including Archos are also expected to launch tablets built on Google’s Android or Chrome software.
Buckley says that the success of the rivals “will depend on how quickly software developers feel compelled to develop apps for it. The draw of the iPad is partly to do with Apple’s design – but also that developers are working to write software for the platform.”
The success of the iPhone has accelerated as its App Store, opened in July 2008, has grown to offer more than 180,000 third-party applications, which have had more than 4bn downloads.
For the iPad, many have been rewritten to take advantage of its larger screen – including magazines such as Condé Nast’s Wired and GQ magazines, which have special £2.99 iPad electronic editions. The US version of the iPad Wired sold 24,000 copies in its first day, generating $120,000.
While those figures were being announced, Chris Thompson, a motor racing memorabilia dealer from Epsom, was taking his place at the end of the iPad queue. Why wait? “Well, patience is a virtue,” he replied. “I’ve come for the atmosphere. It’s more fun being outside here than sitting at home looking out the window waiting for a van to come.”
Apple Inc said on Friday it will launch the iPad tablet computer in nine international markets on May 28, following a strong debut in the United States last month. The iPad will go on sale in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and Britain. Pre-ordering for those markets will start on May 10. The international launch was originally schedule for late April, but Apple delayed it by a month due to what it called higher-than-expected demand. Apple also said the iPad will expand to Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore in July. The iPad, a 9.7-inch touchscreen tablet intended primarily for games, Web browsing, and digital media of all sorts, went on sale in the U.S. on April 3. The company has already sold more than 1 million iPads. Analysts expect the company to sell roughly 5 million of the devices this year
Google Editions will allow customers to download and read books on any device with a browser
Google is planning to launch its own ebook store this summer, setting the scene for an all-out war with Apple and Amazon over the future of the digital book market. Chris Palma, Google’s manager for strategic partner development, said Google Editions would launch in June or July, offering digital versions of the titles on its book search service. The company says the ebooks will work across multiple devices, and, unlike the ebooks of iPad and Kindle, any device with a browser will be able to view the books. Customers with a Google account will be able to access the service. Readers will be able to buy digital copies they find through Google’s book search function and book retailers will be able to sell Google Editions on their own sites, getting most of the revenue from sales. Google Editions will be browser based, offering the latest digital books without locking customers to a specific device.