Архив метки: Germany

Barnes & Noble Incorporates In Germany, Closest Sign Yet Of European Nook Launch

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Just as Amazon is launching a new versions of the Kindle in Europe (but not the Fire tablet, yet), one of its big competitors is taking one more step in its bid to enter the European market: Barnes & Noble has incorporated a new company, Barnes & Noble Digital Media GmbH, in Germany.

B&N incorporated the German company on March 15, just around the time that the U.S. company came to London to promote the Nook to developers.

Apart from the fact that having a digital presence is essential for any bookseller looking to take a piece of growing revenues for e-books, expanding outside of the U.S. market is crucial for B&N if it wants to get more scale for the Nook — an important part of attracting more developers to the ecosystem and also improving its margins on the tablet. Currently the Nook only has around a 3.5 percent share of the market, according to IDC.

According to a report in the German-language Buchreport (Google translation here), the company will be based in Berlin. The report says that Eugene DeFelice will be running the operation; according to this Reuters profile, he is currently the VP, general counsel and corporate secretary of the company. It’s not clear whether this is an interim or permanent appointment.

When B&N hit London last week for its developer event, many came away from the sessions, on building for the Nook platform, with the sense that the idea of pitching to European developers was not yet fully formed. For starters, billing requires U.S. bank accounts, and getting paid for your apps would only be in U.S. dollars.

During the event, the company would not confirm whether the event was organized in the lead-up to launching its Nook tablet on this side of the pond. B&N’s director of developer relations, Claudia Romanini, said that there was no intention of opening B&N stores abroad — another reason it might partner with local companies to launch something, since she also noted that a key part of Nook marketing was around in-store promotions.

Indeed, there have been rumors swirling for months now that B&N will partner with large booksellers here to move ahead on such a strategy. In the UK, many believe its partner will be Waterstones, which has both spoken glowingly of the Nook, and has said it will be launching its own tablet later this year.

In Germany, Buchreport notes that there are several strong incumbent players, including Thalia and DBH, and these could be potential partners. Moreover, B&N already has a partnership with German bookstore aggregator BookWire.

But as with the UK, Barnes & Noble will be entering a crowded market; both Amazon and Apple are already doing very well over in Germany. A survey from the University of Hamburg noted that 57 percent of respondents had purchased books from Amazon, while 27 percent from Apple’s iBookstore.

In the Netherlands — another key market for B&N, and an obvious way of extending much of its current content given that so many there speak English — the bookseller reportedly in line for a partnership is Centraal Bookhuis.

[H/T to @arhomberg]


Barnes & Noble Incorporates In Germany, Closest Sign Yet Of European Nook Launch

Hot On The Heels Of Spotify, Rdio Expands Music Streaming To Spain, Portugal

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The landgrab for music streaming customers is on, and Rdio — the U.S.-based startup from Skype founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis — is joining that race in earnest.

The company today announced that it is now live in Spain and Portugal, just one month after it launched its first European service, in Germany. The total number of countries where Rdio now works is up to eight, including the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Germany, Australia and New Zealand — and hints that there will be more to come.

The market for music streaming services is getting increasingly crowded – we highlighted one of the more recent, from the music magazine Spin, just yesterday – and while some of these do not directly compete against each other for straight subscriptions, they are competing against each other for attention from consumers. And it’s not just limited to what is happening in the U.S., either. Rhapsody last month expanded its hitherto U.S.-only service to Europe.

For now it appears that Spotify is the one to beat. Last month, the company revealed that it has now racked up 3 million subscribers, up from 2.5 million in November 2011, and its conversion rates, taking free/trial users to paid services, is also on the rise.

Rdio has not released an updated subscriber figure — although we have reached out to the company to try to pin one down.

Unlike Spotify — which offers different service tiers including an ad-funded, free listening option in some markets — Rdio has taken a different approach, offering only paid services but guaranteeing no ads in the process.

(That might also have stemmed from a lesson learned by Zennström and Friis from their Skype days: that service, which is now getting acquired by Microsoft, to this day has not managed to convert most of its free users to enhanced, paying options.)

Here, users get access to 12 million songs, either for €4.99 for web-only access or €9.99 for web, mobile and other platform access. The latter can be used on iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 devices, as well as through the Sonos wireless audio system.

In addition to straight song search-and-play options, Rdio also offers users an offline listening mode, recommendations, and various of social features such as playlist sharing and collaboration.

While music streaming has had a lot of buzz in markets like the U.S. – due in part to the growth of services like Pandora and Rhapsody, but also because of the delayed and much-anticipated entry of Spotify last year – it will be interesting to see how services like Rdio gain traction in markets like Spain and Portugal. There could be a greenfield opportunity in any case: as TNW points out, Spotify only has a limited service in both markets at the moment.


Hot On The Heels Of Spotify, Rdio Expands Music Streaming To Spain, Portugal

Google: Unlocking The Door For More Android Originality?

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It sometimes feels like an absurd story without an ending, trying to track who is attacking whom in the mobile patent game, and who is “winning.” But Google has now secured one patent that may just demonstrate that companies are figuring out ways of getting around would-be infringement issues — and possibly lead to producing more differentiated products in the process.

A Google patent, published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, looks like it could pave the way for a new way of unlocking a mobile device. The news comes just as Android-handset maker Motorola, which Google is in the process of acquiring, got a ruling against it in Germany for another mobile unlock patent, in an ongoing case filed by Apple.

Apple’s case in Germany rests on the slide-to-unlock gesture, something that Apple has been enforcing against other handset makers as well, such as Samsung — filing a case against the Korean handset maker in California just earlier this week.

In Germany, a court in Munich yesterday determined that Motorola violated those same Apple slide-to-unlock patents in its Android-based smartphone devices — although its Xoom tablets, for what it’s worth, were spared in the ruling.

Florian Mueller notes the ruling carries the possibility of a permanent injunction on it — although it will be up to Apple whether it decides to enforce it, and Motorola has already said it would appeal the decision and that it did not think the decision would have a material impact on sales. It could also modify this feature in its devices though a software update.

If what Motorola says is true — that sales would not be affected by this ruling — what else is at stake here?

There is an argument to be made that there are still too many features that are similar between different, competing smartphones. Android has so far been the clear winner in smartphone market share — with the operating system accounting for the majority of smartphone sales worldwide at the moment. But most individual device makers are not creating distinctive enough products to sell at volumes that compete with Apple and the very biggest of the Android makers, such as Samsung.

At the moment, with Android, some of the most distinctive implementations have been those where handset makers “fork” the OS, although that leads to fragmentation and difficulties further down the development chain.

That’s where Google’s new patent comes in handy. New methods for unlocking will include moving icons from one screen to another, text inputs and voice commands. But as Patently Apple notes, these elements could run together or separately.

This is the direction that Google will hopefully keep moving. If and when this patent gets implemented, it presents one more building block for Android handset makers not only to get around Apple’s legal complaints — but for them to figure out ways of making their products different from each other’s, while still remaining in Google’s ecosystem and not straying too far from the Android flock.

(Image: Glenn, Flickr)


Google: Unlocking The Door For More Android Originality?

Motorola Injunction Kicks 3 iPhones And An iPad Off Of Apple’s German Site (Update)

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Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a website called Apple.de. And on this website, in historical Deutschland, there lived three iPhones and an iPad. They were a happy bunch: some wise but slow with old age, others quick and lean, but they all had one tragic flaw in common.

According to a court in Germany, all four of them are infringing on Motorola patents related to embedded 3G/UMTS wireless technology, FRAND standards essential patents to be specific. This means that the technology within the patents is now a standard across the industry, and the company that owns said technology is required to license it to competitors under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms.

That said, the Mannheim Regional Court has enforced a permanent injunction on the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G and the iPad 2 3G. Luckily for German fanbois, the ban only affects Apple’s online presence. Customers can still purchase all four products in various retail locations, including Apple brick-and-mortar stores.

This all comes back to a ruling in December, where the Mannheim court issued a preliminary injunction against Apple’s infringing products.

German: “Derzeit nicht verfügbar”
English: “Not currently available.”

You may notice one wireless Apple device — the one that speaks — missing from the list. That’s likely because the iPhone 4S uses a Qualcomm chip as opposed to an Infineon/Intel chip. FOSS Patents suggests that Moto and Qualcomm have a licensing deal already in place, which would mean that Apple is covered by extension with regards to the 4S.

In other Apple/Motorola/Germany-related news, Moto also won a permanent injunction today against Apple’s iCloud push email feature. This means Apple customers in Germany will likely be forced to revert back to the old method of push email, rather than using iCloud.

Update: According to AllThingsD, Apple will have its banned products back online and available on its German site very soon. Apple was in the midst of appealing the ruling while it was removing the products from its online storefront, and the appeal has won the Cupertino-based company a suspension of the injunction.

Here’s the official statement from Apple:

Apple appealed this ruling because Motorola repeatedly refuses to license this patent to Apple on reasonable terms, despite having declared it an industry standard patent seven years ago.


Motorola Injunction Kicks 3 iPhones And An iPad Off Of Apple’s German Site (Update)

Maker Of Taxi-Ordering App myTaxi Raises €10 Million From Daimler, Lars Hinrichs

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Intelligent Apps, the Hamburg, Germany-based startup behind popular taxi ordering smartphone application myTaxi, has raised 10 million euros in growth funding from car2go, a subsidiary of Daimler, Germany’s third largest carmaker. XING and Hackfwd founder Lars Hinrichs also participated in the financing round, as did previous backers T-Venture (Deutsche Telekom) and KfW Bankengruppe.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Daimler took a 15 percent stake in the mobile apps developer.

Intelligent Apps claims myTaxi has a market share of no less than 80 percent in Europe, and is still growing fast. The app has been downloaded 800,000 times to date, and 7,000 taxi drivers have registered for the service so far.

Read more at TechCrunch Europe.


Maker Of Taxi-Ordering App myTaxi Raises €10 Million From Daimler, Lars Hinrichs