Thursday, September 30, 2010

Who do you think reads Comic Books and Graphic Novels ?

Reseachers Simba Information have published a report entitled, "Overview of the US Comic Book and Graphic Novel Market 2009-2010." The most startling findings is that they claim 25% of the comic reading public is over the age of 65. So are we all presuming to know the market and forgetting the silver joy riders and labelling as children's book category?

The interesting thing we can’t gleam for the press release is what will happen as these comics go omline and digital and will the same demographic split exist or shift?

It is easy to dismiss the older generation and believe that it is all about the young but with an aging population and greater time, acceptance of new technology and disposable income, the silver surfers are a force that should be focused on and not brushed aside.

press release

Sykpe and Facebook to Join Forces?

Imagine the largest social network site joining forces with the largest VOIP provider and the boost that both will get in connecting peoplei every way!

The dots will soon be joined if the partnership, according to All Things Digital, between Facebook and Skype happens. It is claimed that the companies will integrate functions enabling users to call and SMS Facebook friends from Skype, Skype will integrate Facebook Connect and users will be able to video chat with Facebook friends.

Skype claims some 124 million active users and 560 million registered users, while Facebook claims over 500 million users. The geographical strengths of each service will also create further growth for both. It also enables Facebook to gain better leverage in the mobile market. It certainly looks both a logical and win win relationship.

The user will gain free Skype basic services and free Facebook with revenue being created from click-through ad revenue and in licensing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Tablet a Day?

We all know that the Galapagos islands offer a unique and Darwinian experience and so its somewhat strange that Sharp has named its new tablet devices as well as a new e-bookstore, ‘The Galapagos system’.

Targeted for release in Japan the two Android tablets also include a bookstore with some 30K titles including newspapers, magazines and books. The devices are 5.5” and 10.8 and will allow for vertical writing and special Japanese characters.

Another day and another big hitter enters the Tablet races.

BlackPad Becomes A Playbook

Tablets will be somewhat confusing for many today as we all have heard or seen the iPad but now are being bombarded with competitive offers? What will differntuate one from another? Who will prevail? Are Apple the winners long term or merely the first to market?

RIM who produce the Blackberry has now announced its Blackpad or as its called Playbook.

They clearly still owns the corporate smartphone market with some 39% share in the US, so will their Playbook be adopted and dominate in a market it is familiar with and where it enjoys a solid reputation. We know many corporates that carry two phones today will this make one redundant and will corporates embrace it as a replacement notebook and a must have for the businessman on the move?

The Playbook will have a 7” screen with front and rear facing cameras to enable video conferencing. It will have Bluetooth and wi-fi. It will have no 3G capabilities but will enable a data connection to 3G networks by tethering to a Blackberry smartphone. It wil like everybody but Apple run Flash. It will have micro-HDMI and micro-usb ports.

However, it will not use the new Blackberry OS 6 operating system but QNX software, which was recently acquired by RIM. The new QNX system is designed specifically for the tablet size computer and will avoid any issues of adjustment from a smartphone OS to the tablet platform. The downside is that it is another operating system and another app barrier for some.

RIM expects to ship the device to corporate customers and developers in October and be fully available in early 2011. But the price remains under wraps and in a congested market may be an issue.

The market now includes or declared offers from Samsung, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, HTC, Acer, Google, Microsoft and Cisco. Will the app, or the technology, the connectivity, the package, the operating system or the price decide the winners and losers? We still believe that the race win be between Apple and Google and open and closed approaches. The big loser is likely to be Microsoft whose focus is still rooted to the PC World.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Seabird Shows the Near Future of the Mobile?

Where would you expect to see the future of the mobile? Some would say Apple, others Google, some HTC, or Samsung, or LG, or Motorola, but today we have a concept mobile which certainly captures the imagination and says ‘yes’ and ‘why not?’and doesn't come from any of the above.

Seabird was created by Billy May, a member of Mozilla Labs community in his spare time. Seabird is not a Mozilla or Mozilla Labs project but part of the Mozilla Labs Concept Series and like Pranav Mistry, May has looked at how we interact with technology and frustration we all have with smartphones today.

Seabird has two pico projectors which enable them to project onto a nearby screen for easier viewing and a full size virtual keyboard on to the table on which the device is docked. The users merely then users the virtual keyboard and is in many ways very similar in its virtual keyboard concept to that shown by Mistry. When the dock isn’t used the pico projectors can provide a split virtual keyboard on each side of the device.

We love the small Bluetooth dongle that slots into the back of the phone and the immediate loss of those white wires. However, the dongle does much more and can be used to control the cursor, select and zoom. Everyone would also love the concept of wireless charging and no charger.

The concept is built on Android and is shaped like a teardrop with a bulge protruding from the top at the back which is used to elevate the projector lenses.

While Mozilla says it has no intention of developing a phone like it, the technologies in it are only one step away from being packaged today and someone is bound to follow up. We want one!

Cookstr a Vertical CookWorld?

Why not have a dedicated portal just for cooking where you link cooks, recipes, restaurants reviewers and of course consumers? It makes a lot of sense and is a clear vertical which touches all.

We looked at which was foundered and is headed by Will Schwalbe who was previously at Hyperion Books and before that William Morrow. He is supported by Katie Workman, who was previously Associate Publisher of Workman Publishing. The site is clean and gives the perfect meeting place to discover cooks, cookbook authors, recipes, restaurants and has profiles of the cooks, a foodie blog. The user can print off a recipe send it to a friend and will soon offer MyCookstr, where they can save recipes, make notes, and shopping lists.

At first it shows the potential of the vertical and the wealth of content available. You can buy a cookbook, but the reader is referred to a cascade of US stores to complete the purchase, which somehow breaks the connection just formed and may be fine for some but why do you want to to do it and give them a beauty contest. There doesn’t appear to be any video clips, GPS linking to nearest restaurant or links as to where you can source produce, but this is only a beta site! You can buy kitchen gifts and advertising is coming. It clearly is one step better than the cook magazine and breaks the spine of the old cookbook.

We presume the author/cook always owns the recipe irrespective of any compilation or cookbook which gives us an interesting issue when the chapter/recipe/article can be traded outside of the book.

The question we had was how you make money on the individual recipes which after all is what everyone will want especially if you can print it off for free. We also see a design that is still basically publisher centric and not consumer centric in that it has joined the cook recipe and consumer dots but missed the restaurant recipe, supplies and consumer ones. We liked it as a site and it obviously can port to a mobile app is linked to twitter and Face Book and it shows want can be done with some slick design.

WSJ views on RIM Tablet

Interesting insight from Wall Street Journal on RIM Tablet

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Top Tips For Booksellers From Gothenburg Book Fair

We were please to speak at this week’s Gothenburg Book Fair and our speech followed a similar approach to that we adopted a couple of months ago in our speech in Korea. We shared the stand with; Michael Tucker CEO of US Books Inc and also President of the American Booksellers association, Susanne Meinel of the German Börsenverein, Margie Scott Tucker who is Michael’s wife and runs Marketing and HR at Books Inc and finally Johan Stenebo author and retailer with over 20 years at IKEA internationally.

Our presentation first reviewed the five common drivers that have prevailed over the last 4 years and featured heavily in the 1600 articles we have written our blog and the lessons learnt. We then once again stepped boldly forward with2020 vision into the future. Finally we offered booksellers ten tips as to what they should be considering doing in today’s Digital World.

Our 10 tips for booksellers to think about:

They may not all be right for everyone today, some may have already been started but they should all be considered and revised regularly.

1. Own the customer relationship
2. Create communities
3. Sell Books in all formats and do what is says on the tin - be independent
4. Think Mail Order on the Internet
5. Be Promiscuous
6. Stop competing with your allies
7. Forget POD and adopt DOD (Digital on Demand)
8. Price Right
9. Don’t Sell ereaders its not your business
10. Keep abreast of the digital market

All the presentations conveyed the same messages and it was interested to hear the practical steps Books Inc had taken in what many believe is the most hostile book market of Silicon Valley. Michael and Margie both conveyed that Books Inc was an ‘experience You Can’t Download.’ Their community and program involved some 1000 events a year and involved Author Events, Book Clubs, Shopping Nights , Children’s Storytimes and complimented by a full communications program.

The panel discussion and questions raised were searching and we hope to be able to offer you links to the video of the presentations shortly.

Our thanks to Lasse Winkler, Editor of Svensk Bokhandel (Swedish Bookseller) and Mats Ahlstrom, Djursholms Bokhandel (Stockholm Bookseller), for organising such a well attended and successful conference

Has HP backed the wrong horse with its Slate tablet?

A YouTube video claims to show HP's much rumoured Slate.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer first showed the Slate at CES inJanuary but HP then bought and the operating system waters became muddy between Palm’s webOS and Windows 7. The Slate includes front and rear cameras and USB connectivity has an Atom processor/ However the Slate is apparently still based on Windows 7and a PC environment not a touch screen one and the comprimises Windows has to make may inhibit the device’s take-up in the market.

Its interesting to note that the biggest problem Microsoft faces today is that its Windows 7 system is a compromise and unlikely to capture the emerging touchscreen market and that would significantly leave them outside of the party just when its getting hot inside. Samsung’s has its Android-powered Galaxy Tab which on the face of it is going to set the main competitive thrust against Apple’s iPad.

The video shows that it takes more than hardware to get the tablet market and HP appear to be backing the wrong horse.

Google is now going after the music business

It is rumoured that a new Google service will offer digital track and album downloads à la iTunes, on a per-track or per-album basis and also a "digital locker" streaming service allowing users a $25 per year subscription to online access to their music library via desktops or mobile devices. Any tracks purchased via the download option would also have those tracks automatically added to the locker as well.

It is claimed that Google also wants a license to allow users to listen to a full-length preview of any song once, after which they would be limited to 30-second previews and will enable users to create playlists that they can share with friends that would allow them to listen to each track in the playlist once before being limited to 30-second previews.

Google clearly are after the media space and to offer media on demand albeit books, music and of course video via YouTube

Blockbuster and Chapter 11

Blockbuster, the company that once owned the video rental business, has announced $900 million debt and that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In a last chance and throw of the dice Blockbuster are now fighting for their lives in a world that has now clearly moved to movies on demand and instant access to movies on PCs and other devices.If the courts approve Blockbuster’s Bankruptcy plan it will clear its debts and only have a $125 million loan to its new ownership group and importantly access to additional $50 million credit line to finance operations.

Currently, all 3,000 Blockbuster stores in the U.S. will remain open and the company hope that this move will reposition its brand and build on its library of over 125,000 titles, and our position as the only operator that provides access across multiple delivery channels stores, kiosks, by-mail and digital.

How do such a giant as Blockbuster get into this mess? The answer is that they missed the likes of Netflix, didn’t position themselves for digital and 3,000 stores don’t count in an online world or even in a world where video disks get serviced through the mail. By the end of the year it is claimed that you will be able to stream Netflix movies on more than 100 different devices, whereas Blockbuster is on less than six devices.

It is a salient lesson to all High Street players in the media world that being the biggest and best doesn’t guarantee tomorrow only that you have further to fall.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Spanish Court Rules in Favour of YouTube

A court in Madrid has ruled that YouTube is not liable for copyright infringement for video material users have uploaded from Spanish television station Telecino. YouTube is not obliged to monitor all content and determine infringement and in ruling the court overrules a provisional ruling two years ago, which ordered YouTube to stop hosting any Telecino videos.

However, YouTube must respond quickly to claims from copyright holders about infringement and cooperate with the holders of the rights to immediately withdraw the content once the infraction is identified.

The ruling was welcomed by YouTube, which said that it was a vindication of EU laws which protect online service providers from liability for material that third parties publish. Some say that the ruling now protects copyright owners’ interests but also enables the likes of YouTube to operate and not get bogged down checking every clip.

This ruling also aligns with an earlier US District Court one that ruled similarly in their favour against Viacom. YouTube also now qualifies for similar protection in the US and in the EU. The court said that YouTube only becomes liable for infringement once it has been told of specific videos that infringe specific copyrights and that it should act to remove these from its site.

Europe however is not united on this issue, a court in Hamburg allowed a collecting society's suit to go to trial on the issue earlier this year and claimed that there "are some good reasons to think that YouTube indeed has some duty to take care of detecting illegal uploads". Also a Belgium court in 2007 ruled that ISP Scarlet should use technology to filter out of its traffic files which infringe copyright.

Safe Harbour may appear to be the easiest way to manage copyright today, but it is reactive not proactive and in effect tries to put the cat back in the bag after the event. The reality is that once the cat is out, it is out. Today’s technology there should enable ways in which we can certify authorisation, licence and track infringement and merely depending on owners to track everything, everywhere, appears to be a legal cop out.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Latest Litopia After Dark

Another Litopia After Dark session worth a listen. last Friday I joined New Zealand author Philippa Ballantine,Donna Ballman from Florida, Dave Bartram and Litopia's Peter Cox.
Its fun to do and worth a listen as usual.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

HTML5, Silverlight and Flash

Whilst many talk of HTML5 being the way ahead they forget the reasons why the likes of Adobe’s Flash and Microsoft’s Silverlight platforms have attracted their own followings. HTML5 will be the future base that is a fact but will not replace the need for Flash or Silverlight.

Silverlights 5.1 new tools enables creators to provide full surround-sound with a video stream, decode the stream and allow users to experience the full 6-channel output. Now that many devices will already be capable of handling the enhanced audio. BSkyB's Sky Player and Netflix both utilise the Silverlight patform for streaming and surround-sound could offer obvious benefit when streaming to HTPCs or internet-enabled TVs.

Corporate IT have previous objected to video video-based applications, arguing that they are complex and expensive to deploy, need a high bandwidth which could impact other critical services such as email. Adobe have now introduced Flash Media Server 4 with several feature which could make video a standard for corporate networks and address these concerns.
HTTP Dynamic Streaming, enables video files to be stored in any available Web cache locations, which means that they require less bandwidth to deliver them to individual users and allows applications to be scaled to service a larger numbers of users.
IP Multicast uses routers to broadcast a video stream to multiple clients across a corporate network. Corporate updates and messages can be delivered as video all of its employees across everywhere at the same time.

Peer-Assisted Delivery addresses’ large-scale video delivery through peer-to-peer networking such that when a user requests a video, the server will identify client with available bandwidth to receive the transmission which in turn can then pass it to other clients until it reaches the user. Thereby spreading the load.

With both Microsoft and Adobe gunning to build media platforms and Google wanting to establish Android as the mobile platform of choice it hard to see how Apple can continue to play the role of King Canute over these platforms.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How Do We Identify Digital Content?

We now have ebook identifiers in the for of ISBNs which works fine for the work itself and we can have a separate ISBN for each rendition. We have a ISTC identifier which may help to group renditions to a work but has still bee adopted and or fully embraced within the trade. We don’t have an identifier for chapters or part works and although the ISBN may work it would appear to some to be a sledgehammer to crack a nut, especially if these were not effectively linked to the work. There are other issues or opportunities to link ISBNs to licencing, permission or access rights and ownership. After all we know that there is no Rights registry and the speed that the Google Book Settlement is going this review we be probably done and dusted before any decision is made.

Some ten years ago a group tried to force the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) onto the trade as a means of identifying ebooks. This somewhat naïve approach was thankfully shot down and effectively buried but is a reminder to all that the practical approach needs to be sought and it has to benefit all not just the few.

Finally we must remember that there is now a wealth of books coming into the digital arena that never had an ISBN are public domain or orphans. Some orphans may have an ISBN today which has long reverted in the physical world. Any solution should cover not just today’s books but also yesterdays.

Earlier this year BISG's Identification Committee began a review of the International ISBN Agency recommendations for the identification of e-books and digital content. They have now announced that they have contracted with Michael Cairns to ‘conduct an objective, research-based study that describes, defines and makes recommendations for the identification of e-books in the U.S. supply chain’.

We feel that their choice of Michael, who steeped in the trade and also ex head of Bowker, is a wise choice. The challenge now is to get the common understanding of the issues, an open debate of the options and a cross industry buy in to practical solutions that can be applied not just in the US but globally within the trade.

Apple Open Up In a Flash?

We we see a reversal of a very public position we have to ask why and what the driver is. Today we have seen a significant shift by Apple towards its App developer tools and potentially Adobe's Flash.

We have all seen the logical rise of the Android platform. It may not have been the first to the market but it certainly has the right approach today to capture the ground on what looked to be a clear category killer –Apple.

Now Apple has announced that it will relax some of the restrictions it placed earlier this year on app developers and that it will also publish review guidelines for its App Store. Is this the long overdue climb down by Apple or an attempt to placate the people who feed the market – the developers.

Apple website has more than 250,000 applications for download – but previously had vermently blocked Flash but are now relaxing their rules so that developers can write programs for it without using Apple's own software.

The move has many layers to peel back. First it negates the threat of an anti-trust investigation which had looked possible after Apple blocked apps written using Adobe software tools. Second it positions Apple to slow down the clear shift to Android.

Market Reachers IDC now predict that Android will overtake Apple’s iOS platform by 2014 and will increase its current market share from 16% to 25% whilst they predict Apple’s iOS's market share will drop to 10.9%. This is obviously just a forecast but we have to acknowledge some significant sales of Android powered smartphones with the likes of selling Motorola 2.7 million and HTC 5.4 million smartphones in the last quarter and the likes of Samsung, Dell and LG still to make their impact. Andriod through its wide adoption by manufacturers is now hitting Apple both in the US and in the wider global market.

Third it potentially lifts the threat of investigation by either the United StatesDepartment of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) into complaints from AdMob, an analytic firm Google purchased earlier, that it was being shut out of iOS and couldn't collect statistics about ads on that operating system.

In April, Steve Jobs published his infamous open letter to Adobe "Thoughts on Flash", which was very scathing on Flash's performance, security, reliability and usability on a touchscreen device. We welcome the new move and now hope that Flash can at last be used on the Apple platform and Steve Jobs will step back from forcing the industry to spend development effort in order to protect his business.

However we have to be cautious as exactly what Apple will allow and how it will allow it but the wind is certainly shifting and for the good of all.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Power to the ARM Chip

When you look under the hood of the mobile devices that we all read about today you will find ARM architecture. It’s in the iPhone and if it were Intel, we would have a sticker on many smartphones saying’ Powered by ARM’.

Their Cortex A15 processor may not be the next off the production line and not due out till next year and in devices maybe in 2012 but it claims to give a performance five times greater than today. This step change puts ARM into a different league and one that goes far further than mobiles. Many players such as Microsoft already licence ARM architecture and there are many questions as to whether ARM can compete at 32bit let alone move to 64bit at the top end.

It biggest mobile rival, Qualcomm, has been increasing its offer on its own ARM variant, the Snapdragon and plans to increase the speed to 1.5GHz next year.
What these moves signal is that the mobile platform is about to become even more powerful and change the way we interact with technology even more than it does already.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Someone Somewhere Just Bought a Book

The Book Depository have a live page on their website that shows what books people are buying around the world at any given moment. It's a weird experience watching windows pop up against countries and although it’s rather compelling is there a point?

Someone in UK bought " AQA AS Business Studies"
Someone in Australia bought "Star Island"
Someone in Belgium bought “Beasts of Burden”
Someone in United States bought “Getting to Yes”

In the box there is the jacket picture and details of how long ago the book was bought and what the delivery charge was.

We think there is a point. First the idea of showing what books are being sold around the world is interesting. Second being able to click on any box and be taken straight to the detailed page to qualify and buy is a sound move. Third it starts to introduce books in a random but interesting way based on purchases (just like a random reader recommends). Forth it could increase customer loyalty when they see their book is shared by other readers. Fifth it demonstrates The Book Depository’s reach and their delivery rates. Finally, its innovative and novel and refreshing to see something so simple yet so logical.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Baidu Follows in Google's Footsteps

Baidu, Inc. was created in 2000 and is ‘the’ Chinese search engine with some 75% of Chinese online queries. In April, Baidu was ranked 7th overall in Alexa's internet rankings and it provides an index of over 740 million web pages, 80 million images, and 10 million multimedia files. Baidu proactively censors its content in line with Chinese government regulations.

Baidu looks like it is following in the footsteps of Google and a look at their services start to look very familiar. They have now started an e-book adding 500 applications to its website. Readers will be able to read and store ebooks. Prices for e-books will be based on the agency model and governed by publishers but titles could be as low as 5 yuan (73 U.S. cents).

The company now intends to develop its “box computing” service, which links the delivey of content including books, video games and other entertainment, to online searches.

"Baidu" is a quote from the last line of Xin Qiji's classical Chinese poem "Green Jade Table in The Lantern Festival”. In ancient China, girls had to stay indoors and the Lantern Festival was one of the few times they could come out. In the sea and chaos of lantern lights, they would sneak away to meet their love and exchange promises to meet again next year.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Samsung: A Sweet and Easy Tablet to Swallow

When we look at Tablets we have to consider connectivity charges, functionality, portability and of course price. There will be probably two camps aligned as they are today to the mobile world one Apple the other Google and of the others, with the potential exception of Microsoft, they will capture some traffic but are unlikely to make it to the end of the race.
So we all know the limitations of the iPad and await its subsequent later models but what about the Android pack and is there a real contender that stands out today or is it to be a case of the numbers in the pack as with mobiles?

Samsung’s new Galaxy Tablet is worthy of a serious look. It has a 7” display, runs on Android 2.2 but has two significant pluses that Steve Jobs will have difficulty matching. One it can support both HTLM5 and Flash so no one is left out. Secondly it also operates as a phone which potential could reduce on-going charges and offer, albeit a bit big, a one stop device. The Galaxy weighs only 380g and offers portability for making phone calls, video calls, browsing the web, sending emails, watching TV, listening to music, reading ebooks and much more. It already has been shipping with Kobo ereading application and as a Android is perfectly capable of supporting Amazon and other Android enabled apps.

The price is still to be announced but is expected to be significantly less that the iPad and will be determined by the various operators who could offer attractive subsidies and especially those who are bright enough to offer a second SIM card option which would enable the user to use the same account to flip between their mobile and the tablet. Again something Apple appear determined not to allow through the SIM design.

So the Galaxy Tab may not be as big and ‘sexy’ as Apple’s iPad but to us it looks like a safer and better bet than Apples constant upgrade program and today’s woefully lacking iPad.

Toshiba have also announced its own tablet, the Folio 100, which also runs on Android 2.2 and is somewhat larger with a 10” display but looks to be a more expensive option to Samsung.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Forget Celebrity Books Lets Have Celebrity Book Clubs

Celebrity payola is back and they appear to be queuing up to cash in on their names and brand.

In the US Oprah Winfrey is about to make a book club comeback with her sticker going on books on September 17th . The books will of course be brand new hardbacks.

Meanwhile in the UK it appears we can’t get rid of Richard and Judy, who are bringing back their Book Club in yet another guise. On the same day the Book Club returned the duo have also categorically ruled out a return to daytime TV on which they last appeared with their Book Club mark 2 on the digital channel ‘Watch ‘in 2009. The second time they failed to capture the audience and saw their audience dropped as low as 8,000. Having worked together for 21 years on TV they have now said they had no plans to come back to television, either together or apart. Perhaps they are past their TV sell buy date?

However not only have they turned their backs on TV they believe the brand is so strong that they can exploit it even without the TV audience, celebrity couch and media attention. They honestly believe that their sticker on a book on the High Street is enough, they even have done a deal to make it an exclusive to WHSmiths. Some would suggest this is vaniety to the extreme others that the public will remember the duo and like sheep follow the two everywhere.

It is unclear what the commercials are but some would suggest someone has to pay and they aren’t doing it for free.

So we now have bypassed literary review and ignored peer review and like everyone else believe celebrities know best. Would a Jordon, Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Wayne Rooney or Peter Andre sticker sell books. We already have ghost writers so why not ghost reviewers and endorsers? Why not the Del Boy Trotter Book Club which would go well with the image of Richard and Judy and the suitcase.

Madeley and Finnegan will review a book every two weeks and post their reviews online, alongside interviews with the authors and reviews from book lovers across the UK. But what is the point and why is it exclusive to WHS? Is this the same WHS are discounting the 'Blair' best seller?

Remember that other recent celebrity book review programme with Jo Brand, Gok and company? Do we now just believe a celebrity book endorsement is the difference between success and failure and forget the content?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Ping: Social Music Networking From Apple

The world of social networking just got a new player. Apple has launched Ping, a social network based on the latest version of its iTunes software and focused on music.

Ping, builds networks of music lovers artists and aims to step into the musical shoes of MySpace. "It's a social network all about music," said Mr Jobs, on its launch in San Francisco."We think this will be really popular very fast because 160 million people can switch it on today," he said.

Apple believe that because they are already where many are buying music that Ping is a natural extension. The question however is whether the social aspect is better suited to music sharing and artists wishing to post material up to be found. Ping assumes Apple is music and this extension is a natural pull but they may be wrong Jobs billed it as a new way to discover music but maybe only if you want to buy it.
The service allows users to create their own profile on iTunes, lists friends lists and what they are listening to and concerts they attend. But is this what buyers want or is it assumption too far?

Ping will have to compete with not only Facebook, MySpace and You Tube but also the likes of Spotify and Not there businesses are about selling music so there may be some trick even Apple have missed.