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At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference today, Steve Jobs announced just about everything that was predicted, but that didn't detract from the news. Arriving July 11th, the new iPhone 3G will sport increased 3G cellular bandwidth, built-in GPS, and the iPhone 2.0 software - priced at $199 for the 8 GB version and $299 for the 16 GB version (in black or white). We've been crunching hard all day to bring you the details from today's event, including more information on the App Store, the .Mac replacement MobileMe, and a limited sighting of Snow Leopard, the next version of Mac OS X due sometime in the middle of 2009. For those less interested in iPhone news, Adam debunks David Pogue's recent claims about ebook piracy, and in the TidBITS Watchlist, we note the releases of Canon Print Driver 1.1, Brother Print Driver 1.1, the Typinator HTML Snippet Set, Default Folder X 4.0.6, DragThing 5.9.3, and Differencia 1.1, as well as Leopard boot DVDs for Data Rescue II and Drive Genius 2.

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Mac OS X Snow Leopard to Focus on Performance, Not Features

  by Adam C. Engst <>

At the beginning of the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, Apple announced it would provide information about the next version of Mac OS X - code-named Snow Leopard - after the keynote. Since all the content at WWDC other than the keynote is covered by non-disclosure agreements, it seemed that Apple didn't plan to talk in public about what we could expect.

However, a press release about Snow Leopard appeared late in the day revealing some details. Instead of adding marquee features like Time Machine and Spaces, Snow Leopard will instead focus on enhancing performance and reliability and lay the foundation for future features. In particular, Snow Leopard will be optimized for multi-core processors, be able to tap into the computing power of modern graphic processing units (GPUs), make it possible to address up to 16 TB of RAM, ship with QuickTime X, and provide out-of-the-box support for Microsoft Exchange 2007 in Mail, iCal, and Address Book.

A new technology code-named "Grand Central" will make it easier for developers to create applications that make the most of multi-core Macs, which should let people get more from those 8-core Mac Pros. Additional performance gains will come from support for Open Computing Language (OpenCL), a new language from Apple that supposedly lets any application access the gigaflops of computing power previously available only to graphics applications. Apple says that OpenCL is based on the C programming language and has been proposed as an open standard; the only hints about it up to now came in an interview with the Nvidia CEO.

QuickTime X will reportedly optimize support for modern audio and video formats for more-efficient media playback. It seems likely that QuickTime is due for a major rewrite, given how long it has been around. Finally, Safari will receive JavaScript performance enhancements that are intended to provide an enhanced user experience for Web applications, perhaps due to a new JavaScript engine called SquirrelFish that's recently seen the light of day.

The press release said that Snow Leopard is slated to ship "in about a year," and I'm sure more details will start leaking out as developers receive seeds. Overall, my initial reaction is that Snow Leopard is a very good move for Apple, because the focus on adding features in favor of performance has meant that Mac OS X has become increasingly poky for many users. And I suspect that people are no longer responding as favorably to long lists of features that they may or may not use - although I use them happily, none of the new features in Tiger or Leopard have radically changed the way I use my Mac. Apple touts Mac OS X as being rock-solid and easy to use (especially compared to Windows), so enhancing the engine under Leopard's hood could be just what many people are looking for in the next update.

It can be difficult to convince users to pay for better performance and more efficient workings under the hood, but perhaps Apple will charge less than the usual $129. Or, perhaps Apple will give Snow Leopard away for free, in preparation for a Mac App Store that will give Apple a cut of every Mac application sold. But that's just crazy talk... or is it?

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Apple Announces iPhone 3G to Ship on 11-Jul-08

  by Adam C. Engst <>

Ending months of speculation and rumor, Steve Jobs today announced that the first major revision to the iPhone, dubbed the iPhone 3G, will ship on 11-Jul-08 for $199 (8 GB) or $299 (16 GB). The iPhone 2.0 software, which will be a free upgrade for all current iPhone owners, will also debut on that date. iPod touch owners will be able to upgrade to the new software for $9.95.

The iPhone 3G will launch initially in 22 countries, with Apple aiming for availability in more than 70 countries by the end of 2008. To illustrate the complexity in such a device, Apple said in a briefing that the iPhone 3G has 10 radios, 7 of them covering the various spectrum slices used around the world.

New Hardware -- As you might expect from the name, the iPhone 3G supports third-generation cellular data networking that operates over eight times faster than the EDGE data support in the first iPhone model. Apple claims just a factor of 2 to 3 times faster Web-page loading and email-attachment downloading. AT&T's flavor of 3G also makes it possible to use data-based services while you're talking on the phone.

The iPhone 3G's enhanced networking capabilities don't come at the expense of previous capabilities, and the device can switch among 3G, EDGE, and Wi-Fi as needed. The iPhone 3G can be set to use only 2G networks when that's necessary, which might be the case in reducing roaming charges outside of one's home carrier network.

The other major hardware enhancement in the iPhone 3G is a GPS receiver, which enhances the current iPhone's cell tower triangulation and nearby Wi-Fi network sniffing to provide more accurate position and real-time location mapping and tracking over time. In the keynote, Jobs demonstrated a drive the company "recorded" down San Francisco's famous curvy Lombard Street, with the Maps application playing back the progress over the same time duration, pulsating a ring of blue as a blue dot moved.

A GPS receiver can drain power from a mobile device quite rapidly - that's why they're often used while plugged in to an automobile. But in a briefing, Apple explained that the GPS receiver was engaged only while Maps was active, or when a program that called on Core Location features in the iPhone 2.0 software was using the GPS. The iPhone will ask your permission before allowing an application to use the location hardware, too.

It remains to be seen if Apple or another developer will add spoken directions. Technically speaking, the iPhone 3G supports Assisted GPS, or A-GPS, which increases accuracy and improves performance by offloading some processing to a remote server. The GPS capabilities also enable photo geotagging, although the iPhone's built-in camera remains stuck at a mere 2 megapixels.

Less sexy but equally useful is the iPhone 3G's improved battery life in standby and talk time. Apple provides the following estimates, although our experience with all vendor battery life estimates is that they're optimistic and seldom reflect real-world usage (since, for instance, you would likely perform a variety of these actions over the course of a normal day of iPhone usage).

The iPhone 3G uses 3G for talk when connected to 3G networks, and that reduces talk time by half, as you can see. With a switch in Settings, you can force the iPhone to use 2G networks to extend talk time or reduce data roaming bills when you're roaming away from home.

Physically, the iPhone 3G is almost identical to the original iPhone. Apple's specs page shows it increasing in depth by .02 inches (.7 mm) and decreasing in weight by .1 ounces (2 grams), not something we can imagine anyone but a dock manufacturer noticing or caring about.

TidBITS editor Glenn Fleishman spent a few minutes with an iPhone 3G during an Apple briefing, and found that despite the tiny changes in weight and size that it was noticeably lighter - he compared by holding his 2G iPhone in one hand and an iPhone 3G in the other - and nicer to hold.

However, the original iPhone's easily scratched chrome back has been replaced with plastic - black by default, although there's an option for white in the 16 GB model. And the headphone jack is now flush with the case, something that garnered big applause from the WWDC audience. (The original model's recessed jack meant some third-party headsets wouldn't fit without use of an adapter.) Jobs claimed that the iPhone 3G also boasts dramatically better audio quality thanks to better built-in speakers.

[View image]

iPhone 2.0 Software -- Current iPhone and iPod touch owners won't have to buy an iPhone 3G to take advantage of other new features, however, since the iPhone 2.0 software that drives the iPhone 3G is also available to the earlier devices. The iPhone 2.0 software will enable users to move and delete multiple email messages at once, search for contacts, use a new scientific calculator (merely by flipping the iPhone to landscape orientation when displaying the current calculator), turn on parental controls to restrict specified content, and save images directly from a Web page or send them to your iPhone via email (from which they can then be transferred back to the Mac).

Some users will particularly appreciate the capability to view (but not edit) email-attached documents from the iWork suite within the Mail program: Keynote, Pages, and Numbers, along with Microsoft PowerPoint (joining the existing support for Word and Excel documents). And, finally, the iPhone's Calendar app now supports multiple iCal calendars, instead of grouping every event into one calendar.

There's a subtle change that Apple discussed in a briefing when asked about the ability to enable Wi-Fi and disable cell radios in aircraft, since many airlines in the United States will be launching on-board Internet access using Wi-Fi in the next few months. An existing Airplane Mode in Settings turns off all radios when enabled; Apple said that the iPhone 2.0 software would allow Wi-Fi to be switched back on after Airplane Mode was engaged. This would also let you extend battery life by disabling 9 of the 10 on-board radios if you didn't need voice calling. (Like cell radios, GPS receivers are illegal to use in flight.)

Of course, we anticipate that the most interesting applications will come from third-party developers who have now been using the iPhone SDK (software development kit) for three months to create a wide range of programs. 250,000 people downloaded the free iPhone SDK, and 25,000 applied for the paid developer program, but only 4,000 have been admitted to the developer program so far.

During the WWDC keynote, Apple brought a number of developers on stage to show their applications and make the expected platitudes about how wonderful it was to develop for the iPhone. Sega, Pangea Software, and Digital Legends Entertainment showed off games that took advantage of the built-in accelerometer and gestures; eBay demoed a native application for bidding in auctions; two companies presented medical applications; the Associated Press and showed news-related programs; and the social-networking site Loopt used the iPhone 3G's location capabilities to show the location of your friends. The developer who garnered the most applause, however, was a lone developer named Mark Terry from Moo Cow Music, whose Band program lets iPhone users mix songs using a variety of instruments.

All iPhone applications, free or commercial, will be available via the new App Store; see "More iPhone App Store Details Revealed" (2008-06-09) for more.

Pricing and Availability -- Jobs acknowledged that one of the major challenges Apple faced with the original iPhone was the price, which started out at $599 for an 8 GB model. The first price cut dropped that to $399 (see the details at the end of "Apple Introduces iPod touch, Wi-Fi iTunes Store, and New iPods," 2007-09-10), and Apple has now reduced the price yet again, cutting it in half to $199 in the United States, and he said it would cost the same or less worldwide. That's for a black 8 GB model; for 16 GB of RAM, you'll pay $299, and you'll get the choice of a black or white back.

Although it's hard to argue with Apple dropping the iPhone's price by $200, a fact that came out only after the keynote is that 3G service plans will increase by $10 per month for personal plans, and $25 per month for business plans. That makes the cheapest package $70 per month. Historically, Apple has received a share of revenue, but Ars Technica is reporting that the revenue-sharing deal hasn't been extended to the new model, along with the fact that current iPhone users who want to upgrade will be able to do so by starting a new 2-year contract, not adding another 2 years on top of the remaining contract commitment. Instead of the revenue sharing deal, AT&T is subsidizing the price of iPhones, according to the Associated Press, a standard cellular-phone pricing arrangement.

(Don't cry for AT&T: with the cheapest personal service plan, they'll realize about $500 more in revenue over two years with the higher fee and no revenue sharing than they did with the 2G iPhone.)

The iPhone 3G will be available in 22 countries on 11-Jul-08. Interestingly, the online Apple Store is not accepting pre-orders; it merely points to retail Apple Store and AT&T locations where the iPhone will be available.

What's Next? This product announcement was perhaps the least-well-kept of Apple's secrets since Steve Jobs returned to the company many years ago. Both the 3G and GPS additions have been discussed for ages, and Apple itself raised the curtain on the iPhone SDK and App Store months ago. So in some sense, despite the massive amount of anticipation, there's a slight letdown in not being wowed by entirely unanticipated features or in Apple not delivering on every rumored feature, such as a forward-facing video camera for iChat video chatting. (Damn those rumors for raising our hopes!) That does leave room for a third-generation iPhone to appear next year, though who knows what Apple will call it, given that the second-generation is the iPhone 3G.

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More iPhone App Store Details Revealed

  by Jeff Carlson <>

When Apple opened up iPhone development with the iPhone software development kit (SDK) in March 2008, the company also announced the App Store, the exclusive online storefront for buying and downloading the expected flood of iPhone applications to come. In today's keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple provided more details about how App Store will work when it goes live in early July.

The pricing model remains the same as previously reported. Developers can set whatever price they choose for their applications, with 70 percent of each sale pocketed by the author and 30 percent going to Apple for overhead; free applications require no fee to Apple (see "Apple Announces iPhone 2.0, Releases SDK," 2007-09-07). Still up in the air is how the App Store will handle trial software, where a fully functional version of a program is available for free for a set time period (such as 30 days). Also unanswered are questions surrounding Apple's opinion about selling content used by iPhone apps, such as ebooks, maps, game levels, and more. Plus, as software reviewers, it's unclear to us how developers will be able to provide review copies to media.

Steve Jobs also provided more detail about how applications will be downloaded. Following the same model as the iTunes Store, users will be able to purchase and download applications via iTunes on a Mac or Windows PC, and then sync downloaded applications to the iPhone or touch. An App Store icon also appears on the Home screen of the device itself for direct purchase and download. Unlike the iTunes Store, however, the App Store allows applications weighing in at 10 MB or smaller to be transferred over the 3G cellular connection to an iPhone, as well as over Wi-Fi or sync via iTunes. Programs larger than 10 GB will be restricted to Wi-Fi or iTunes.

And, enterprise customers will be able distribute their own applications to their employees via intranet or iTunes. Security options will enable the applications to run only on the employees' devices.

A new distribution method, Ad Hoc, requires developers to register for a certificate that enables them to seed software on up to 100 iPhones. As an example, Jobs cited a computer science professor who could distribute an application to students.

Jobs announced that the App Store will have a greater scope that coincides with the broader worldwide rollout of the iPhone 3G, serving 62 countries (out of over 70 countries anticipated to carry the iPhone by the end of the year; Apple has not yet signed deals with China or Russia).

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iPhone 2.0 Poised for the Enterprise

  by Rich Mogull <>

With the release of the iPhone 2.0 software on 11-Jul-08, Apple is introducing the first device that could finally erode the dominance of Research In Motion's ubiquitous BlackBerry. The iPhone not only represents Apple's first major foray into the enterprise in many years, but could also offer Microsoft an opportunity to regain control of mobile messaging and drive adoption of Microsoft's Exchange Server's mobile features.

When the iPhone was initially released, it was essentially unsuitable for most enterprises larger than a small business. Without support for full Exchange (or Lotus Notes) synchronization, and lacking crucial security features, the iPhone was limited to one-off adoptions that often run counter to corporate policy. To access email you had to open up remote Internet access to the IMAP mail service in Exchange, and contact and calendar synchronization required docking an iPhone with a computer. It was even worse from a security standpoint, since there was no way to enforce remote policies nor to remotely wipe a lost iPhone full of sensitive corporate data. Finally, although enterprises could write rich, Web 2.0-style enterprise applications for remote access, the iPhone was incompatible with major VPN gateways.

Much of this will change with the release of the iPhone 2.0 software (and the iPhone 3G). While most of the features were previously announced, Steve Jobs's keynote at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference today provided additional information about what we can expect.

The most significant enhancement is the inclusion of Microsoft's ActiveSync technology for iPhone device management and synchronization. By including full support for ActiveSync, Apple gained compatibility with every organization running Microsoft's Exchange Server, which is by far the most dominant corporate email platform. ActiveSync for Exchange includes all the major features required for enterprise mobile messaging, including full, over-the-air synchronization of contacts, calendars, and email; remote policy enforcement for device configuration and security; and remote wipe.

For remote access, Apple announced greater support for VPN protocols, with Cisco VPN gateway compatibility being especially important, as it's the most widely deployed platform in the market. While full details aren't yet available, it also appears that Apple will provide full support for credentials-based network access over Wi-Fi using digital certificates and the 802.1X port-based access control protocol with WPA2's more robust Wi-Fi encryption. 802.1X requires that a user provide some identity information before being given any network access beyond a sequestered area on a Wi-Fi access point; this can include two-factor authentication, a simple user name and password combination, or a personal digital certificate installed individually on each computer or device. (WPA2 plus 802.1X is commonly called WPA2 Enterprise, as Apple labels it in their enterprise marketing pages.)

Enterprises will also be able to develop and deploy in-house applications to their iPhone users, perhaps allowing a multi-platform basis for support for companies that choose to allow multiple smartphone platforms, or that migrate from other platforms to the iPhone universe. Some companies have extensive in-house development departments for desktop and mobile applications. Jobs said during the keynote that enterprises will be able to distribute applications within a company, and then those applications can be installed via iTunes. A separate enterprise developer license is required; other details aren't yet available about the mechanics.

The combination of secure remote access, full Exchange integration, remote management, and application development support will make the iPhone as viable in the enterprise as any other mobile platform, but the iPhone includes features that may enhance its enterprise appeal over alternatives.

With a fully functional Web browser, rich attachment viewing (including all Microsoft Office and iWork formats), and robust custom applications, the iPhone will provide a slick mobile workplace experience, likely to be far more appealing than other current options - in my experience, most mobile devices and applications are practically unusable due to user interface limitations. Even viewing basic documents, like spreadsheets or PDF files, is usually painful.

With pricing in the same range as competing products, full support for all core mobile features, and a superior user experience, the iPhone could even chip away at the darling of the corporate executive - RIM's BlackBerry. This will actually benefit Microsoft by reducing reliance on the expensive BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) required for corporate messaging.

Most people don't realize that all BlackBerry devices rely on BES servers for push email and remote management. For consumers, these servers are hosted by RIM for wireless providers. Enterprises must purchase enough BES servers to layer on top of their email servers to support connectivity (that's why a consumer BlackBerry can't synchronize calendars or contacts over the air, but enterprise versions can). Exchange itself added over-the-air synchronization in recent versions, but only after BES had become entrenched in the enterprise. Microsoft's goal was to drive more users off competing server platforms, like Lotus Notes, and mobile devices, like the Blackberry, and to give Microsoft greater control over the mobile experience.

Although the iPhone won't increase Microsoft's market share in mobile devices, it positions Exchange as the only email server that directly supports the iPhone, Microsoft's own mobile devices, and pretty much anything other than the BlackBerry. This could increase their lucrative server sales.

On the negative side, the iPhone will (as far as we're aware) still lack copy-and-paste and the capability to edit Microsoft Office and iWork documents. Also, RIM still has a major advantage in international data roaming due to its highly efficient use of bandwidth and global infrastructure that eliminates most roaming data fees. Finally, the continued reliance on iTunes, still essentially a music management tool, for configuration and application installation and management, may irk corporate IT departments.

With the impending release of the iPhone 2.0 software, the iPhone is finally positioned to enter the enterprise market to the benefit of Apple, and possibly of Microsoft, but likely to the chagrin of Research in Motion. Let the enterprise games begin!

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.Mac Morphs into MobileMe

  by Jeff Carlson <>

Pleasing copyeditors everywhere, Phil Schiller announced MobileMe, a new online service that replaces the awkwardly named .Mac ("dot-Mac"). The changed name should also make the service more appealing to Windows users, who can currently use many aspects of the service even if they don't have a Mac. In essence, MobileMe is a spruced-up version of .Mac, but with one significant difference: Dubbed "Exchange for the rest of us" by Apple, MobileMe uses Microsoft's ActiveSync technology to keep email, contacts, events, photos, and files updated on the fly, so that a user can sync their data without having to tether an iPhone or iPod touch to a computer via a USB connection or even have the mobile device in the same location as the computer. MobileMe will also continue to offer the usual .Mac features like iDisk online storage, Web galleries of photos and movies, and iLife integration. Apple has also increased the storage amount to 20 GB, up from .Mac's 10 GB.

MobileMe works with native Mac OS X applications like iCal and Mail; under Windows, the same functionality applies to Outlook, Outlook Express, and Windows Contacts under Windows XP or Vista.

Although still costing $99 per year (with a free 60-day trial), the idea is that MobileMe is less a separate service and more of an extension of what you already do on your Mac, PC, iPhone, or iPod touch. For example, your email messages and mailboxes will apparently be instantly be the same, whether on your iPhone or your computer, a feature that many users should welcome with open arms. And, contacts and calendar items will sync automatically. As a final example, a photo you snap with an iPhone can be immediately uploaded to your MobileMe gallery, and viewed by anyone accessing the service via computer, iPhone, or Apple TV.

When I wrote earlier that MobileMe is spruced up, I didn't mean to downplay the new look and feel. Apple excels at user experience, and this iteration promises to make you forget you're using a Web browser. Transferring files to and from your iDisk is a drag-and-drop operation in a browser, just as it is in the Mac OS X Finder.

What about .Mac? Current .Mac users can visit the .Mac home page to find details on getting ready for MobileMe, retaining their email addresses, and how to start using a new email address.

MobileMe is expected to become available in early July with the iPhone 2.0 software, though Apple's Web pages list only "coming soon." For Macintosh users, the service will require at least Mac OS X 10.4.11 Tiger, but Apple Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard in order to access all the features. You'll also need Safari 3 or Firefox 2 for the Mac. Windows users will need Safari 3, Firefox 2, or Internet Explorer 7.

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No, David Pogue, Ebook Piracy is Not a Given

  by Adam C. Engst <>

In "Can e-Publishing Overcome Copyright Concerns?," David Pogue of the New York Times talks about why he doesn't make electronic versions of his books available, supporting his position as ebook naysayer with a blog post by an author whose voluntary payment experiment for the digital release of an outdated book was a dismal failure. Apparently, Pogue has twice sent PDF versions of a book to someone claiming to be blind and each time, he said, the book was all over the "piracy sites" within 48 hours. In a subsequent post, Pogue relayed and responded to reader comments, which spanned the gamut of opinions.

I normally appreciate what Pogue has to say in his print and email columns due to the way his technology sensibilities have been honed by years of being a Mac user. But in this situation, and I say this with all respect due to a fellow author with whom I've written a book, I disagree with him pretty much completely. I'm not just spouting off like some of the people commenting on his blog posts - my point of view comes as the result of selling over 150,000 ebooks with virtually no copies being shared widely.

(Ironically, despite Pogue saying that he doesn't make electronic versions of his Missing Manuals available, a quick scan of O'Reilly Media's Web site showed that 5 of his 24 books are in fact for sale in PDF format. When I asked him about this, he admitted that he knew that "iPhone: The Missing Manual" had been released in PDF to get it to market faster last year. Three of the others were older books, and he was surprised to learn that "Windows XP Home Edition: The Missing Manual, Second Edition" was available in PDF. This lack of awareness is understandable: the royalty statements for a print-book author as prolific as Pogue are undoubtedly voluminous and may be nearly incomprehensible.)

Sourcing Copies -- Implicit in Pogue's claim that his kind-hearted gesture twice resulted in copies of his ebooks being shared widely is the belief that had he not provided those PDFs to the scammers (we'll assume they were scammers, and not people who legitimately needed an electronic copy for use with screen-reading software), no copies would have been shared, there being no other way to get them. This sounds like the flawed reasoning that the music industry used for so long to block online sales of digital music - they wanted to keep music restricted to the physical medium of the CD, ignoring the fact that there was already a commonly used path for music to move online: by being ripped from CD into MP3. It's much harder to scan a physical book into PDF format, but there are other ways for a print book to move into a digital format.

O'Reilly Media, which publishes the Missing Manual series that Pogue started, is a partner in Safari Books Online, a joint venture with Pearson that gives subscribers access to a large selection of books. Books can be read only online, but because most are converted to an XML format for use within Safari Books Online, people have apparently figured out how to extract the content and turn it into other formats, most notably Microsoft Compiled HTML Help (known as CHM format; readers exist for a variety of platforms). Plus, O'Reilly sells PDF versions of some Missing Manuals, including those I mentioned previously that Pogue wrote. (Full disclosure: Both O'Reilly and Peachpit Press, which is owned by Pearson, are distributors of our Take Control ebooks, and our ebooks are also available in Safari Books Online.)

A search of common BitTorrent sites turned up a large collection of Missing Manuals in CHM format ready for the downloading, and searching the Gnutella network via Acquisition also found "Dreamweaver CS3: The Missing Manual" in PDF format. So clearly, although plenty of Missing Manuals are available illegally, those copies stem from Safari Books Online or from O'Reilly, not from anything Pogue may have done, or from someone buying the print book and scanning it. (That sort of thing happened with the last few Harry Potter books, but we computer authors flatter ourselves that anyone would care enough about our writing to go to the significant effort of scanning our books in order to share them.)

Legal Sales Prevent Illegal Copies -- If you did want to prevent illegal sales, what's the best way to go about it? Far from preventing people from sharing copies on the peer-to-peer networks, Pogue's decision to restrict electronic distribution may have had the opposite effect.

Supply and demand are inextricably linked, and if there's no supply for the demand Pogue freely acknowledges, it's easy to see how someone could feel relatively little guilt in downloading or sharing an illicitly acquired copy. I'm not justifying such behavior, but the harder you make it for someone to buy an easily replicated digital commodity, the more likely they are to share that commodity as a way of making things easier for others. Look at the parallels in the music industry. Apple made legitimate purchases of music both easy and inexpensive via the iTunes Store, and anyone who was on the fence about whether it was acceptable to share music suddenly had a viable alternative. Providing a legitimate purchase path for electronic versions not only generates revenue, but also reduces illicit copying.

Closer to home, consider our experience with Take Control. We've been publishing ebooks for more than four years, and as I said, we've sold over 150,000 copies in that time, with virtually no wide scale copying. We try hard to price our ebooks reasonably, and we've put a lot of effort into making the purchase process simple. Because it's easy to buy our ebooks legitimately, there's not much incentive to share purchased copies or to download copies rather than buy them.

Of course, we do more to discourage copying. I believe that displaying the price prominently on the first page of every one of our ebooks triggers anti-shoplifting experiences for most people. If you see a pile of items without prices in a store (as is true of most digital files, including books in Safari Books Online), you might assume they're samples or marketing freebies. But if there's a price sign on the pile, or each item has been clearly marked with a price, there's no question that you can't take one and walk out without paying. Also, because we tend to cover timely and perishable topics, we often release updates to our ebooks, thus rendering obsolete previous versions. Those updates are often free, and for more major updates, we usually offer existing owners a discount. To judge from our reader email, people appreciate these gestures.

Other techniques we employ include free samples of all of our ebooks, a discount offer that readers can share with interested friends or colleagues, a plainly written request that readers treat the ebooks as they would print books (occasional lending of books is a time-honored tradition), and an up-front statement that we don't use any copy prevention or DRM technologies. We also take small pains to make sure our Check for Updates links work only for purchasers, and utilize basic security measures to prevent copies from being downloaded illegitimately from our Web site.

How do I know we're not being taken to the electronic cleaners? I have automated Google searches that look for copies of the ebooks that may be available for public download. I have found our ebooks available for download on a handful of occasions; each time it was someone who had put the file on a server without realizing it was open to the public or who was transferring the book from work to home and had forgotten to take it down. I periodically search the file sharing services too, but it's exceedingly rare to find any of our ebooks there, and those I have seen were wildly out of date.

In short, far from the foregone conclusion that publishing an electronic book will result in rampant copying, our years of experience show just the opposite.

What's the Difference? When I was corresponding with Pogue about his blog post, he zeroed in on the key question: Why are his books being shared illicitly whereas ours are not? Certainly, some of it has to do with us providing an easy, inexpensive way for interested readers to purchase the electronic versions they want, and all the little things we do to discourage rampant copying undoubtedly help as well. But O'Reilly also sells many of their print books in PDF form, so the difference isn't just availability. Possibilities that occur to me include:

Try iTunes Instead of Voluntary Payments -- Pogue segues from his personal story to the experience of author Steven Poole, who gave away copies of a 7-year-old book about "the aesthetics of videogames - what they share with cinema, the history of painting, or literature; and what makes them different, in terms of form, psychology and semiotics." In November 2007, Poole released the book as a DRM-free PDF under a Creative Commons license, and included a PayPal button with the text "If you like the book, you can leave a tip via PayPal."

Although the book was downloaded nearly 32,000 times, fewer than 20 people paid anything, and a few tipped Poole only a cent. Poole seems neither surprised nor particularly dismayed about his specific results (it was an old book about past technology, after all), but correctly concludes that, despite the much-discussed Radiohead experiment, voluntary payments don't constitute a viable business model. We dabbled with voluntary payments a while back with what we called PayBITS, and came to the same conclusion - it's fine for an author to ask for a voluntary payment every so often, but it works best for very well-known creators, and only infrequently even then.

TidBITS contributing editor Glenn Fleishman had a brush with this sort of model when he distributed a DRM-free copy of "Real World Adobe GoLive 6" after the useful life span of that book had passed. He didn't ask for any contribution originally, but due to a hosting error, he nearly faced a $15,000 bill for the many thousands of downloads. The bill was narrowly averted (a threshold wasn't crossed for bandwidth usage), but a simple general appeal - since he wasn't tracking individual downloaders - brought in $2,000, which, with donors' permission, he gave to Project Gutenberg. (See "Publish (Electronically) and Perish?", 2003-03-24, for the whole story.)

What I don't quite understand is why Pogue chose to quote Poole's description of the failure of his voluntary payment experiment without also acknowledging that Poole touches on the obvious solution:

A reasonable outcome, perhaps, would be something like an iTunes for books, where people choose to buy (DRM-free or at least DRM-lite) copies because it's still easier for most folk than hunting down a torrent.

Precisely! Although I haven't seen reports from individual artists about how much they're making from the iTunes Store, the fact that the iTunes Store is, as of April 2008, the largest music retailer in the United States, probably means that it's generating real revenue for artists as a collective whole.

All this reminds me of my call for Apple to enhance the text-reading capabilities of the iPhone and iPod, perhaps even with an iPod reader that would feature a larger screen (see "Open Letter to Steve Jobs: In Support of an iPod reader," 2008-03-05). Core to that idea was the suggestion that the iTunes Store sell ebooks; I'd bet that Apple would become the largest ebook retailer in the world nearly instantly.

In fact, Amazon pairs their ebook reader, the Kindle, with just such an ebook store. Even though the Kindle's interface and hardware design could stand improvement, its frictionless approach to buying books is one of the few online experiences akin to the iTunes Store. (See Tonya's take on the Kindle in "First Kindly Impressions about My Kindle," 2008-03-27.) For those who might be wondering, we are looking closely at the Kindle, but we're hoping Amazon will add more formatting options soon, because converting the Take Control series to Kindle format would require a lot of work to pare down our rich formatting to the Kindle's feeble display capabilities.

(Amazon has revealed almost nothing about the Kindle's adoption rate. Jeff Bezos said recently at the Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference that the Kindle's ebook sales represent 6 percent of all Amazon sales for the 125,000 titles that are available for the Kindle. Unfortunately, that statistic is less than useless, because although many mainstream print best sellers are available for the Kindle, there are also Kindle-only titles that would pull up the average. Plus, Bezos never clarified whether that number is unit sales or dollars. Personally, I suspect that if the Kindle had started a raging fire of demand, Amazon would be trumpeting that news widely. Their near-complete silence causes me to think it's more of a fizzle.)

Marketing via Copying? One last point. Pogue's assumption is that copying is a bad thing - that a copy is equivalent to a lost sale. Although any publisher would prefer a sale to a not-sale, I think this assumption oversimplifies the situation. I see three possible scenarios:

  1. Anne is looking for documentation on Mac OS X, and to avoid purchasing "Mac OS X Leopard: The Missing Manual," she downloads an illicit copy of the book via BitTorrent.
  2. Bart has a question about how Spaces works, and in the process of trying to find an answer, downloads an illicit copy of "Mac OS X Leopard: The Missing Manual." Whether or not the book contains the answer is irrelevant, because Bart wasn't going to buy any book - he just wanted an answer to his question.
  3. Cassie, like Anne, is looking for documentation about Leopard, stumbles on an illicit copy of "Mac OS X Leopard: The Missing Manual," downloads it, and reads the first few chapters. Impressed, she pops over to Amazon to order a print copy and returns to reading the illicit version until her print copy arrives.

In this first scenario with Anne, Pogue and O'Reilly lose a likely opportunity to make money, but they don't lose any actual money. In fact, they may gain a future sale to Anne through increased familiarity (for the sake of argument, we'll assume that Anne's opinion of the book was positive).

With Bart, in the second scenario, there's no revenue gained nor opportunity lost, although a future sale to Bart is again more likely than it would be had he not seen the book online.

But in our third scenario with Cassie, where the downloaded version causes a print sale, not only do Pogue and O'Reilly earn money from the sale, they do so without having to pay anything to introduce Cassie to the book. The cost of customer acquisition is nil (or rather, it's shared by others). That's a double win.

My guess, and this is pure speculation, is that the people downloading illicit copies of ebooks fall onto a classic bell curve, with the bulk of the population being like Bart and relatively few people acting like either Anne or Cassie.

Clearly, authors and publishers have to earn money at some point, so if everyone downloaded everything for free like Anne, the publishing industry would disintegrate. In managing Take Control, though, I've learned that the greatest challenge to increasing sales is reaching a larger audience - customer acquisition rears its ugly head. I'd far rather acquire a customer like Cassie for free than spend marketing money to attract someone new. That doesn't mean I'm comfortable just giving our ebooks away, since we don't have a print-based model to promote, as do the Baen Free Library and science-fiction author Cory Doctorow. (Doctorow's broadly licensed works, which can be downloaded for free, translated, performed, and adapted, seem to have contributed to his robust print sales.) To be fair, both Baen and Doctorow are publishing fiction, which differs somewhat from technical reference works of the like that we and Pogue publish.

But I am sanguine about what would happen if some of our ebooks were to be shared widely. I don't believe it would hurt sales because if we (and Google) are doing our jobs right, it will always be easier to find and purchase our legitimate copies than to hunt down some out-of-date illicit version. Would such copying help sales in a noticeable fashion? If I'm right about the bell curve, that's also unlikely, unless such a shared book also somehow became associated with a fast-spreading Internet meme. But any exposure is better than none, at least for the vast majority of authors. As O'Reilly Media publisher Tim O'Reilly has said, "Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy." To tie this back to the music world, encouraging copying may not work for well-known artists with multiple distribution channels, but for the vast majority of unknown musicians, that Internet meme lottery ticket is a way better bet than a spot on American Idol.

In the end, I find myself on the opposite end of the spectrum from David Pogue. I've proved over four years that ebook piracy is not a fact of Internet nature, and I'd argue that it's something that all authors could both control and profit from. The trick, as always, is to watch how the recording industry behaves and do the opposite. Bring on the iTunes Store for ebooks, Apple, and make the Kindle better, Amazon!

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TidBITS Watchlist: Notable Software Updates for 09-Jun-08

  by Adam C. Engst <>

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Hot Topics in TidBITS Talk/09-June-08

  by Jeff Carlson <>

Online storage query -- What's an economical system for storing and accessing files among family members who are in several locations? (3 messages)

Modem question -- Could replacing the broadband modem given to you by your cable provider with a different model dramatically improve Internet performance? It's worth looking into. (4 messages)

What Windows software is still in use? If you're using Parallels Desktop, Fusion, or Boot Camp, which Windows software do you need to run? Is it because the programs aren't available for the Mac? Games? Tech support or testing? Readers share their uses. (20 messages)

Apple TV downloading -- A reader notices that movies downloaded directly to the Apple TV appear much slower than downloading to iTunes on a Mac. Is the wireless network to blame? (5 messages)

Thoughts on illicit ebook copying -- Readers react to Adam's article on ebook piracy, noting other outlets where free or inexpensive legal digital copies of books are available. (19 messages)

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