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For September, Book-Related Apps Overtook Games On iPhone

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the fall's-good-contemplative-reading-weather dept.

Books 96

ruphus13 writes "In a sign that ebooks are rising in popularity, a recent survey by mobile analytics company Flurry revealed that users may be using the iPhone for more intellectual pursuits, and not just the visual sizzle. The 'book-related' apps on the iPhone overtook games in terms of new apps released. According to the post, 'Book-related apps saw an upsurge in launches in September ... So much so that book-related applications overtook games in the App Store as a percentage of all released apps. The trend isn't an aberration. In October, one out of every five new applications launching on the iPhone was a book ... from August 2008 to the same month in 2009, more apps were released in the 'games' category than any other and, as a result, the iPhone (and iPod touch) became a new handheld gaming platform, one that impacted the Nintendo DS. '"

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Like iFirst (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29948642)

....haha

why is slashdot pretending the droid doesnt exist (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29948648)

Who cares about the iphone anymore, it's all about droid!!!

Re:why is slashdot pretending the droid doesnt exi (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29948738)

Because the slashdot editors each have an iPhone deeply embedded inside their anal passage. Set to vibrate.

Re:why is slashdot pretending the droid doesnt exi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949694)

Is there a decent eBook reader on android yet? I was seriously considering it a few months ago, but couldn't find anything.

Re:why is slashdot pretending the droid doesnt exi (1)

mafian911 (1270834) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950324)

*checks Android market*

There seem to be a few. I can't vouch for their quality though. I would not be surprised if more become available as the Droid gains popularity. Also, I would not be surprised if Google released some sort of client for Google Books in the near future. It seems like an obvious win for them.

Re:why is slashdot pretending the droid doesnt exi (1)

highvista63 (587404) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952260)

Give FBReader a try. I've read a couple dozen books using it so far. It allows for page turning via screen swipes or the volume control, which make it easier to use than my last ebook reader--a Palm TX. As long as you can find a way to convert an ebook file into the ePub format, you'll be good to go.

No surprise there... (3, Insightful)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948698)

Not at all surprising. In spite of all the very vocal Apple haters who love to accuse Apple's products of being "all style, no function", the truth is a high percentage of Apple users are fairly well-educated people and they chose Apple because it does the work they need done. I still prefer Debian and FreeBSD myself, and would much rather have an Android than an iPhone (still using an old Treo 650 with Palm OS until the Droid comes out), but to most non-geeks free as in freedom is just not as much of an issue as we wish it were.

Re:No surprise there... (-1, Troll)

AniVisual (1373773) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948742)

Also, given Apple's censorship policies, I daresay not many a good game developer wants to develop for the iPhone. <Disclaimer: 100% opinion & speculation>

Re:No surprise there... (4, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948908)

Your speculation appears false. Go take a look at the iTunes store one of these days.

Re:No surprise there... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949216)

Sadly you are right. Nobody cares that Apple has become the evil version of Microsoft, nobody is interested in holding them to account for their censorship and RIAA-style litigation and...

Oooh, it's shiny! All glory to the Hypnojobs! All glory to the Hypnojobs!

Re:No surprise there... (2, Funny)

The Leather Duke (258767) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949814)

"the evil version of Microsoft"
I thought the evil empire was Microsoft? Am I misinformed? Um, wait...
Provided evil is negative:
If Microsoft = Evil
and Apple = Microsoft * Evil
then Apple = Good

Oho! Ohohoho! You fanboi, you!

Re:No surprise there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949996)

i read all glory to hyperhandjob....

Re:No surprise there... (-1, Troll)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949570)

I use linux you insensitive clod!

i.e i can't look at the iTunes store.

p.s GP said good game developers, from what i have seen on iphones most of the apps are no better than silly flash games and while there are good game developers using flash, the majority of flash games are mass produced crap, and going on what I've seen (i.e without having owned an iPhone/iTunes (so i may be wrong)) i'd assume the same is true of iphone games. If there is any truth to this assumption then counting anything on the iPhone by app releases is retarded.

Re:No surprise there... (3, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949752)

Nicely assumed. And there's nothing insensitive about telling you to look at something before making assumptions. The fact that you can't look has only got to do with your choice to value freedom over functionality.

For what it's worth, the iPhone as far as I've seen has generated some of the most innovative games in many years, simply because it's got some relatively "weird" control systems. You are right that there are many flash-game alikes, but there's also hundreds of *really* high quality games out there. Unfortunately, I can't link them though, as it would only anger the linux geek further.

Re:No surprise there... (0, Troll)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950276)

Hundreds of quality games, and tens of thousands of crappy ones. Good luck finding the good ones, and BTW, no refunds.

Re:No surprise there... (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950454)

Correct, hundreds of good quality games, and thousands of crappy ones, just like the PS3, and just like the XBox 360, and just like the Wii, and just like the PC, and...

Notably, unlike android, WiMo or Blackberry where there are just a few crappy ones.

As to finding the good ones, that's what ratings, review sites, and word of mouth are for, just like on the bigger platforms.

In the mean time, as with any product, yes, there *are* refunds from the iTS, and as with all other products, only if it's faulty (i.e. doesn't do something that was advertised).

Re:No surprise there... (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950836)

In the mean time, as with any product, yes, there *are* refunds from the iTS, and as with all other products, only if it's faulty (i.e. doesn't do something that was advertised).

Most vendors (outside of the computer industry) also have a satisfaction guarantee, wherein you can return a product if you're not satisfied with it, as long as it's still saleable and within a reasonable time frame. That isn't enshrined anywhere as a right, but it is a privilege that most vendors agree will help improve business over time.

Aren't many apps on the Apple store free, though? On Android, I haven't had to pay for a single app I've downloaded... they've all been free (as in beer). Some of them have been trialware where you get to try an app out and decide whether to pay for the upgrade, keep the crippled version, or delete it from your phone, but for the most part, everything I've downloaded has been a case of "here you go, have fun".

Re:No surprise there... (2, Informative)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950906)

Most vendors (outside of the computer industry) also have a satisfaction guarantee, wherein you can return a product if you're not satisfied with it, as long as it's still saleable and within a reasonable time frame. That isn't enshrined anywhere as a right, but it is a privilege that most vendors agree will help improve business over time.
Every game shop I've ever been into has been extremely cagy about even accepting a return of a damaged game – I've opened the box, and seen the serial number, I could be trying to pirate it.

Aren't many apps on the Apple store free, though? On Android, I haven't had to pay for a single app I've downloaded... they've all been free (as in beer). Some of them have been trialware where you get to try an app out and decide whether to pay for the upgrade, keep the crippled version, or delete it from your phone, but for the most part, everything I've downloaded has been a case of "here you go, have fun".
Yep, last I checked, about 40% of he 100,000 were free, my numbers may be a bit off by now. You're right, on the iPhone too, a decent chunk of the free ones are demos/trialware, I expect that a lot of the paid apps will turn into free apps with paid upgrades inside now that apple have let developers release free apps with in app purchases.

Re:No surprise there... (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#29967684)

Correct, hundreds of good quality games, and thousands of crappy ones, just like the PS3, and just like the XBox 360, and just like the Wii, and just like the PC, and...

All of which have refunds and/or demos.

Re:No surprise there... (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#29968550)

Just like the iPhone then?

Re:No surprise there... (0, Redundant)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952276)

The fact that you can't look has only got to do with your choice to value freedom over functionality.

TBF even under windows i would never touch iTunes, I program value design over functionality, freedom is just a bonus.

You are right that there are many flash-game alikes, but there's also hundreds of *really* high quality games out there.

That sounds exactly like flash games.

some of the most innovative games in many years, simply because it's got some relatively "weird" control systems.

I would guess that these games fall under the hundreds of good ones, because based on homebrew for the wii it's safe to say that just making use of cool control systems isn't enough to make a good game.

All you have done is confirm my assumptions in an argumentative fashion

Re:No surprise there... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29948780)

the truth is a high percentage of Apple users are fairly well-educated people

The truth is they pretend they are.

Re:No surprise there... (1, Troll)

intheshelter (906917) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948970)

The TRUTH is exactly what the original poster said, it's actually been studied. The other truth is that you must be somewhat threatened by them.

Re:No surprise there... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949000)

...book-related applications overtook games in the App Store as a percentage of all released apps

Why user intelligence has to do with the matter of number of released apps I have no idea but by the looks of it you aren't one of these intelligent ones which are oh-so threatning

Re:No surprise there... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949018)

Yes, [clickz.com]
  there's
  always envy [huffingtonpost.com] among the inferior. [cnet.com]

Re:No surprise there... (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949382)

I suspect his remark was more tongue-in-cheek than you realize... no need to get defensive. :)

We all know that the stereotypical users of any given OS aren't necessarily true... not all Apple users are metrosexual elitist jerks, not all PC users are 13-year old 1337 G@merz, and not all Linux users are geeks who never shower and haven't left their parents' basement in 25 years. (for one, I'm a Linux user --Slackware, at that-- and have quite an active social life... going out clubbing/dancing, parties, social gatherings, and such... even have a girlfriend, though as far as her parents are concerned we're "just friends", as she doesn't want to explain to them that she's queer...)

Take it in the spirit it's intended. Life's too ridiculous to be taken seriously. :)

Re:No surprise there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29950512)

You had me until you said your girlfriend was gay implying you're a girl, on slashdot. That I don't believe for a second.

Re:No surprise there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29952208)

We all know that the stereotypical users of any given OS aren't necessarily true... not all Apple users are metrosexual elitist jerks, not all PC users are 13-year old 1337 G@merz, and not all Linux users are geeks who never shower and haven't left their parents' basement in 25 years

I'm a 13-year old metrosexual elitist jerk who never showers! And I use Haiku!

Re:No surprise there... (1)

fafaforza (248976) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949872)

WHEN was is studied? Apple has undergone a pretty exponential growth in market recently, especially with the iPhone, and with that growth come the masses.

Re:No surprise there... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950390)

WHEN was is studied? Apple has undergone a pretty exponential growth in market recently, especially with the iPhone, and with that growth come the masses.

Indeed. The world breeds better idiots [theregister.co.uk] every second.

Re:No surprise there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29966770)

Apple has undergone a pretty exponential growth in market recently

Ofuckungreally? Because if I had to guess without calculating and yes I do know how to, I'd say that the best fit for this [macrumors.com] is linear.

Re:No surprise there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29951320)

What fucking study? I'm a doctoral student, I've never used a mac at all. I use linux and XP about 50-50. Two of my buddies have PhDs and one of them uses the same as me, other always uses linux except windows for gaming.

Shove your study up your fanboi butt, I'm sure there's room.

Re:No surprise there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29954868)

What fucking study?...Shove your study up your fanboi butt, I'm sure there's room.

You appear to be proof that while a moron can be educated, he cannot be made intelligent.
Also, it's amusing that so many Apple haters seem to have an obsession with anal penetration and homosexuality...

Re:No surprise there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29966984)

You appear to be proof that while a moron can be educated, he cannot be made intelligent.

They don't teach PhDs. It's research.

it's amusing that so many Apple haters seem to have an obsession with anal penetration and homosexuality...

So you spent six years getting an associate degree in basket dancing and folk weaving and the best you can come up with is "I know you are but what am I?"

Re:No surprise there... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29948986)

Pointing out anything even slightly positive about Apple on slashdot brings all the anti-Apple trolls out of the woodwork these days -- check out the mod abuse of the GP's comment! Good thing we're geeks and not a bunch o' superstitious, ignernt religious fanatics 'round these parts, ain't it?
--

</sarcasm>

Re:No surprise there... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949286)

Similarly, posting anything even slightly negative about Apple on slashdot brings out all the fanboys to apologize for whatever Apple has done this time.

"Sure, we all know Apple murdered six million PC users during WW2, but to be fair, it had to be done, it was either that or go out of business."

Re:No surprise there... (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950142)

You must be reading some other Slashdot that is not packed full of people going on and on about how evil Apple is at the slightest opportunity.

Re:No surprise there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29967332)

"Sure, we all know Apple murdered six million PC users during WW2, but to be fair, it had to be done, it was either that or go out of business."

More likely something along the lines of "but Micro$oft killed seven million". Because we all know that two wrongs make a right, and that if someone's worse than you then you aren't actually bad.

Re:No surprise there... (4, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948888)

Actually, it's because it's back-to-school season. Ask any parent.

Re:Yo Momma's free handjobs (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29948892)

Down on 5th and State.

No problem there and very vocal with her advertising.

Oh yeah, fuck the rotten Apple.

Re:No surprise there... (2, Interesting)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949338)

If the iPhone was available with a fold-out keyboard like some Android phones (including the HTC Dream, which is what I bought), then my decision probably would have been harder. It's not a sheeple mentality for me, but the iPhone app store does seem to have a lot more of the kinds of stuff I need. (still looking for a port of something like AbiWord to Android... It would be really nice to be able to receive a document by e-mail, make some modifications, and e-mail it back to the person without having to find a laptop with a network connection). That said, I did find some of the coolest apps ever on the Android store... I *love* Google StarMaps, and the GPS Status app. Coupled with Google Maps (which has the ability to center location based on cell tower and GPS location if enabled), who needs a Garmin any more?

As it stands, the fold-out QWERTY keyboard makes a huge difference to my typing speed for things like text messages, e-mails, and instant messenger. I guess it depends on what people are intending to do with their phones, but I got mine to serve the same basic function as a Blackberry (but with GPS and a good camera), so the keyboard was a must. That's functionality that the iPhone just doesn't have, and while not a deal-breaker for most, it is one for me.

On the topic at hand... some people are saying that the small screen is hard to read... I can only guess that those people either haven't used the small screen, or haven't used an app that's specifically designed for the small screen. Facebook mobile is actually very readable on the small screen, especially when you turn it to landscape rendering. There's some scrolling, but not enough to be intrusive or annoying, I think. And that's one that's *not* specifically designed for the screen... get into a reader like WikiMobile, and you'll find that it's actually *very* readable, and easy to follow. If I wanted to read e-books, I'd probably go for an e-book reader for a larger screen (or just use the netbook I already own), but for people who don't have the option of owning more than one device, I'd say that the Android/iPhone isn't anywhere near as bad as some people are making it out to be. :/

Re:No surprise there... (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949408)

the iphone is a derivative of OS X which is based on FreeBSD and Apple contributes to open source projects

Re:No surprise there... (0, Offtopic)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950316)

You managed to speak nothing about tfa (beside your wild ass speculation that somehow all the 16 year olds with an iphone are "well-educated", ha), throw in a little fanboism attacking other phones and those that don't like the iphone, then you pretend to like linux. And you got modded up because of all of that, and nothing of value was added to the discussion! Awesome job everyone involved!

Re:No surprise there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29952834)

I was wondering how you could be so absurdly off base, but then I noticed your nick.

Re:No surprise there... (1)

Phoghat (1288088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29965782)

Hi, I'm Tom and used to hate Apple.

Hi Tom

I've been a Windows Mobile user for a long time because it did what I wanted. I put up with soft and hard resets, data loss and so forth, but I held in there. Then my old Dell Axim crapped out for the last time and my Zune went away also. I needed to replace both of them and checked out i Pods. I bought a refurbed 16 GB about 2 months ago and haven't regretted it once. I'm Tom and that's mu story.

Thanks Tom, coffee and donuts are in the back and we need a volunteer to sweep up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXCRUE4Bip8&feature=PlayList&p=B0BC1F630A7967BD&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=6

What's the correlation? (5, Insightful)

Necroloth (1512791) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948740)

I'm sorry if I've misread... but from my understanding, there are more book-type apps released, not apps sold/used?

Re:What's the correlation? (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948902)

You read it correctly. Achievement unlocked for reading article. :)

Apart from the obvious of it not equating to users downloading, the iPhone as itself is not great for reading. Screen is small. Your have to tap a lot, or zoom in/out.

There is one company (BeamItDown) who have an excellent reader app. It auto scrolls with a speed based on the angle of reading. Makes it very easy to read large amounts of data with little tapping on screen.

But the books are all public domain stuff. Would be nice to get the app separate.

Re:What's the correlation? (2, Informative)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949470)

Would be nice to get the app separate.

There are several free e-book reader apps available for the iPhone that are pretty decent. Most of the stand-alone books have been public domain stuff released by one or two publishers who have pretty much spammed the App Store with them hoping to capitalize on people who aren't aware that much this stuff is available for free. It got so bad at one point that Apple was forced to make a separate category for books so users didn't have to wade through the hundreds of book titles to in order to find the apps they actually want.

Re:What's the correlation? (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955610)

That is not the problem. The problem is that Apple doesn't allow good searching anymore, it is restricted to keywords that can't exceed 100 characters in total.

So when people search for a particular book, which most people do, nothing will be returned for that search. So people had to add in individual books to get that market.

All very well calling them spammers, which they may be, but Apple made this problem worse by restricting searches.

Re:What's the correlation? (1)

jisatsusha (755173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950208)

It auto scrolls with a speed based on the angle of reading.

I hope it's not really as bad as it sounds. Moving text is very difficult to read, I thought we learned that lesson from the bad old days of <marquee> HTML coding.

Re:What's the correlation? (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 4 years ago | (#29951160)

It is actually quite good and makes reading on a small device so much easier.

One of my biggest peeves with ebook devices is that I can read the page fast enough that turning pages actually becomes annoying fast.

Re:What's the correlation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949802)

It's much easier to make a book app than a game, leading to more book apps released than game apps.

- Captain Obvious

Maybe (5, Insightful)

zblack_eagle (971870) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948750)

While it may be technically accurate that ebook apps are rising in popularity, I don't think that developers releasing more ebook apps (likely to be more individual books released as apps than app readers) translates to it being popular for users. For one, it is probably relatively easy for publishers to recycle some code to wrap around books they publish and release them as apps in the app store. Making unique games for a somewhat different platform in terms of IO and UI would be more difficult. If anything it just means that the traditional content owners have been moving in on the iphone as yet another platform for releasing their content on to.

Let me quote Steve Jobs ... (2, Funny)

stasike (1063564) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948764)

Re:Let me quote Steve Jobs ... (3, Funny)

emm-tee (23371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949948)

People

tl;dr

;)

Books (-1, Flamebait)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948766)

Those books would be the complete works of Oscar Wilde, oranges are not the only fruit and the official patient's sourcebook on hemorrhoids. Am I right?

interesting for dedicated e-book manufacturers (3, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948800)

This could mean that people will become more used to reading books in electronic form and more likely to buy a dedicated e-book reader for the improved contrast, battery life, etc. On the other hand it could mean that people will find the advantage of "one device" means that they will go with phones rather than dedicated readers. It will be interesting anyway.

Re:interesting for dedicated e-book manufacturers (1)

fafaforza (248976) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949938)

Personally speaking, I don't think I would stick to reading a book for long if I had games and the Internet on the same device. I'd be too tempted to check the latest news or waste some time on a simple game. The PRS-505 fits in the back pocket of all the pants I own so it is easily portable. The new model is even smaller, though the screen might be a bit too small.

One of the reasons I wanted to start reading again was because I couldn't seem to focus on individual tasks and reading materials. I think the multi tasking nature of all the devices we own are doing a disservice to us, and having everything on your iPhone wouldn't be helping you change that.

Re:interesting for dedicated e-book manufacturers (1)

NekSnappa (803141) | more than 4 years ago | (#29951402)

When I'm reading a book on my iPod Touch I turn the wi-fi, or email push off so that the email app doesn't ding at me. Otherwise I find the temptation to check email when I hear the alert.

Also when I'm reading is when the lack of multi-tasking bothers me the most. I would like to have the option of an internet radio station playing while reading. As it is the only music you have access while reading is what is in your library on the device.

Re:interesting for dedicated e-book manufacturers (1)

JDHawg (800829) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955616)

Actually, I typically use my iPhone for eBook reading when I'm on airplanes. I can't ("technically", I know) check email or surf the net, so that temptation isn't there.

It's easier to produce a 100 book apps (4, Informative)

Chris_Jefferson (581445) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948826)

Looking through those book apps, there are many groups of people who are just taking every out-of-copyright book they can find and turning each into a separate app. In general, the games don't do the same things, hence the lower quantity.

not suitable for ebooks (2, Insightful)

umberto_soprano (1594477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948832)

320x480, 3.5" too small for ebooks IMHO

Re:not suitable for ebooks (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948860)

Two screens with 256 x 192 works suprisingly well on the DS with the reader in Brain Age or classic books collection so don't give up on all the iStuff which all have brighter screens as well. That said I'd rather have the DS and just have it at the same resolution but bigger and brigher.

Re:not suitable for ebooks (1)

fafaforza (248976) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949976)

I tried out the 100 classic book collection and didn't stick too long with it. It was neat in the beginning, but the resolution on the DS is too low, and the LCD (at least on my phat DS) is too bright at night, and not bright enough outdoors.

Re:not suitable for ebooks (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 4 years ago | (#29964132)

[T]he resolution on the DS is too low, and the LCD (at least on my phat DS) is too bright at night, and not bright enough outdoors.

The brightness problem is slowly being solved, and it probably won't be more that a few more years until you can quickly adjust brightness to what's comfortable to your eyes under most conditions. They might even learn what the paperback-book producers learned decades ago, and replace the default full-white background that is the "standard" now with color schemes that are easier on the eyes.

The pixel count (or resolution if you prefer) problem may be harder, since for most eyes, we're reaching the point where smaller pixels won't add anything to readability. This means they're facing a basic problem of screen size. And, as was observed by developers of the first Palm handhelds, if it doesn't fit in my pocket, I won't have it in my pocket. It'll be sitting back on my desk rather than somewhere that I can grab it and use it. So the handhelds are basically limited to a size that fits in the majority of pockets, which is something controlled by the fashion industry, not by anyone with any intelligence or interest in usability.

It's true that a few models are now coming in a form that opens like a book, presenting two small screens to the reader, thus doubling the visible screen area. But this probably can't be improved much. We'll have to wait for the "content suppliers" to supply the content in formats that actually work on the small screens of pocket-size portable computers.

One reason to expect that this might take a while is that, if you look at the earliest design of Web software, you'll find a lot of explanations that HTML was specifically designed to make it easy for the "content" to be displayed on screens of different sizes. This was considered an important problem right from the start, and HTML was consciously designed with the idea that the software at the last "display it" stage would make all layout and formatting decisions.

But it hasn't worked out that way. The Web is mostly run by designers that are openly contemptuous of such concepts. They know how their lovely designs should look, and they've "extended" the markup to let them restrict the layout to exactly what looks good to them on their own big screen. Most of it is crappy on small, pocket-size screens. The designers know this, but don't care. You should use a screen big enough to properly render their designs, not a tiny screen that fits in your pocket. I've lost count of how many times I've built web pages that came out clear and readable on all screens I could test them on, including my pocket "smartphone", only to have my design vetoed by a higher-up, and replaced by something similar but with all layout details specified. They even have people test the redesign to make sure that it doesn't look good on small screens (though of course that wasn't how they worded the testing procedure).

Until this user-hostile attitude is broken, we'll continue to have major usability problems with the growing population of our little pocket-size computers. Improved screen resolution will help for a while, but we're rapidly reaching the resolution limit of most human eyes, and that'll put an end to that path.

(Actually, I'm working on a couple of web sites now that have exactly this problem. My nefarious scheme is to find out what screens and software the decision makers are using, and write code that produces the restricted formats for those, while also detecting most smaller screens and sending free-form pages to them that can be formatted to fit by their local software. I've gotten away with that a few times, and I can probably do it again. But I often wish that Web standards had included a mandatory field in requests telling the server the client's window size. ;-)

Re:not suitable for ebooks (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948982)

It's good for "enhanced" books though. I've been thoroughly enjoying The Death of Bunny Munro [enhanced-editions.com] by Nick Cave. The extra things an iPod can do (audio, video) can really complement the text if it's done well.

Re:not suitable for ebooks (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949442)

With a purpose-built reader for the screen it's actually not that bad. Something like WikiMobile on the Android, for example, is actually very readable. I'd rather do my reading on something like a netbook, or *gasp* an actual book, but for people who don't have the luxury of owning more than one device, or don't have the ability to carry more than one device with them, a smartphone really isn't that bad an option.

Re:not suitable for ebooks (2, Informative)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949652)

I've read ebooks on my iPhone. It's not as good as my Kindle, but the books are readable.

Re:not suitable for ebooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949910)

> 320x480, 3.5" too small for ebooks IMHO

Agreed. For books: Kindle hardware beats the N800/N180 which beats the iPhone.

Of course, the Kindle is a non-starter given the DRM and remote removal of books they've done, so that leaves the N800 in the lead. It's at least got 800x480 res, which makes books more readable than on the iPhone. Also it's a more open platform.

Re:not suitable for ebooks (2, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950488)

320x480, 3.5" too small for ebooks IMHO

Maybe yes, maybe no. I just finished reading both Moby Dick and Tale of Two Cities on the iPhone, just to see what the experience was like. Not bad, but certainly not optimal. It's just a little too small to handle comfortably for long periods of time, but I found that it was pretty easy to immerse myself in the books even with the small screen because flipping pages (on Stanza) was so easy. I also found that the reverse screen was quite readable for long periods of time.

I'm still in the market for a dedicated ebook reader (or a decent tablet), but for casual use - or to read on a bus or a plane - it was better than I expected.

YMMV. Past performance not indicative of future gains or losses. Don't read while driving or operating machinery. Do not taunt happy fun ball.

It's OK (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29951306)

I read through one book on the iPhone Kindle app (Pursuit of Elegance) on an airplane and it was fine - I still prefer paper but if a book is out only in hardback it's cheaper to buy for the KIndle, plus I dislike owning huge books generally. You can read charts OK and you the legibility is good, you just turn pages more often but because it's easy enough to do you don't really notice.

I'm still very reluctant to buy any eBook unless I can loan it out though (some technical books have started to provide PDF versions of eBooks which is perfect).

Re:not suitable for ebooks (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955956)

Have you tried it? It forces columns to be short, which is may be an advantage. I've read arguments that columns should be narrow for best reading. It doesn't show many lines, but that's not necessarily important for a novel. I found the scrolling of the BeamItDown reader to work surprisingly well in practice. It's not as good as a paper book, but far more portable.

But this would mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29948844)

More people interested in reading than in playing games?

Atlantis rising from the depths of the ocean!

Cats and dogs living together!

*runs away in panic*

Re:But this would mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29950116)

Bill Murray, stop posting to slashdot!

Calm people, calm... (5, Insightful)

omgarthas (1372603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948874)

It's just apps released, I could release tomorrow three millions of "Find your ideal weight" and that wouldn't mean that Fitness apps were rocking the market...

Book apps are easy, fast and cheap to release, hence the massive release numbers, not any indication of a success

Re:Calm people, calm... (1)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949094)

O'Reilly & Associates have certainly noticed how easy it is, and there are a couple of HUNDRED books from them on iPhone now, all at $5 or less. I'm not against this idea, by the way. Books sold as individual apps can get some love & care to make a better product, and I don't have to go through two layers of stores to get at them (book app from Amazon/Barnes & Noble/others, then hunt for the book on each).

People drink when thirsty. (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948934)

I just decided while researching a publish date on BarnesandNoble.com to look into the Nook, based on what I have read on Slashdot. (decided not to go to Books-A-Million even though one is in town, I guess just to change it up..) Maybe for the holidays.

The point is, people yearn for knowledge. That is real joy and pleasure, not wasting time pushing buttons... (Have been an avid Counter Strike player, since the betas.) It seems like we are now giving the people what they need as far as "apps".

screw that (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29948952)

The idea of wasting a slot and otherwise cluttering up my springboard for a single book irks me to no end. If I read at even a fraction of the percentage of books I do like this, I'll have no room left and will have to delete books to fit in new ones in a month or two.

Hey publishers, you don't need to release your books as their own frakking app, release it in a standard format that can be purchased and read in the a reader like Stanza and you'll have my attention. Until then, I'm not interested.

CAPCHA: sympathy
No, they will have none!

Re:screw that (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950128)

Especially since OS 3.0 they could release a single app and sell books in-app.

Re:screw that (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955984)

Yes, but as I said before, Apple screwed up searching, so if you search for a particular book, your multi book app will not come up.

Anyway, you can delete if from your iphone, you still have it on itunes, and you can add it back at anytime.

"impacted Nintendo DS" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29948998)

http://xorsyst.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/broken-dslite-2.jpg

"Upsurge"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949174)

> Book-related apps saw an upsurge in launches...

I guess that means other apps saw a "downdecline".

Now I'm going to "unthaw" some chicken for dinner.

the iPhone is a so-so ebook reader (3, Informative)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949176)

I had a go at my sister in law's iPhone over the week-end. The thing certainly is way better then my WinMob 6.1 piece of crap. The user interface in particular is quite good.

I was especially trying to confirm whether the iPhone would work for me as an ebook reader. I'm used to using PDAs, starting with the original Palm Pilot, on to an aging Palm TX. Sadly, the answer is no: the screen is too small for me. I'm hoping to upcoming 5" android phones will be good.. and not TOO big.

BTW, my 2 dislikes about the iPhone;
- the thing is a fingerprint magnet,
- and the "page-preview" in Safari is not kept up to date with the actual page render, so if you want to know if a longish page has finished downloading, you have to actually fully open it, you can't see it from the "tabs" preview.

Re:the iPhone is a so-so ebook reader (1)

TheJodster (212554) | more than 4 years ago | (#29954142)

I switched from WinMob 6.1 to an iPhone too. I'll never go back. I will never buy another phone that has to be operated with a toothpick.

I read books very often with Stanza. It's great. I just bought a book for it this weekend. "A History of the American People". For reading my Game FAQs and walkthroughs, I use GoodReader. It formats nicely so that a standard ASCII document can be read in landscape view without word wrapping which screws up the ASCII tables and makes them hard to use.

The Droid looks to be a very nice phone too. I watched demos of it on the internet. It looks very iPhone like which is a good thing. I could see myself buying one of those in the future if android turns out to be as slick as the iPhone OS. I would like to be able to develop apps for my phone without special permission from Apple and without buying a damned Mac computer.

Re:the iPhone is a so-so ebook reader (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29954548)

You had me at...

I had a go at my sister in law'

Re:the iPhone is a so-so ebook reader (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956000)

- and the "page-preview" in Safari is not kept up to date with the actual page render, so if you want to know if a longish page has finished downloading, you have to actually fully open it, you can't see it from the "tabs" preview.

This is a good thing in some way, it means you can view pages without having to have internet access. It is good for caching pages as well.

Books? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949184)

I didn't think most iPhone users even knew how to read...

Development time vs Shovelware time (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949220)

The "Percentage of Releases" stat means nothing to me in this case because once a company has released one eBook it costs them virtually nothing in either time or money to release as many others as they want. All they have to do is release the same app with a different eBook file in it and a different name. If each game that comes out takes months of development and each eBook beyond the first takes minutes of "development" then it's obvious which will be released in greater quantities.

Now, if you told me more people were actually BUYING eBooks than games, then I'd be impressed.

Re:Development time vs Shovelware time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29950396)

Depends on who's doing the releases. Publishers still need to perform editorial duties and tasks on any book they release--those costs don't really go down with repetition. If it's just someone coding an existing, previously published or public-domain book, then yes.

It works because people are lazy (2, Insightful)

mattwrock (1630159) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949460)

If games are your only way to pass the time, then that is what people will do. I don't think people are "smarter" because book apps are available, they just have a new choice to do something while waiting at the doctor's office. If porn was available, I am sure you could replace "ebook" with "elook" and have the same article.

It means people think they can make money (1)

giladpn (1657217) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949578)

Yup, everybody commenting that publishing eBooks is not the same as buying eBooks - is right. Absolutely.

But its still interesting because people would not be spending time on it - unless they thought there is a market.

The underlying trend is that mobile internet usage is very much going mainstream. This means the audience is not just fanboys and gamers. People who like reading a book - are joining up.

One wonders how this will impact the wider real-time web. SMS-ing from your mobile to twitter is a big thing right now. As people who actually read books - something longer than 140 chars - join the trend, the center of the market may shift.

Worth watching.

It means they are easy to make - no time spent (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29951408)

But its still interesting because people would not be spending time on it - unless they thought there is a market.

I'm an iPhone developer, and I disagree. If you think about it, a book reader app with minimal usability is just about the easiest application to write, and all your content is free (for most of the book readers). So the reason we see so many eBooks is that people can do them so easily, there's basically no cost to them - not to mention once you have your reader you can simply plop new content in and you have a new "app".

I would have thought this would mostly end with the release of the free readers that group hundreds of books - but again it's so easy to do, that a lot of people are probably figuring they might as well do it as not and so we see the trend continue.

Book-Related Apps On iPhone (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949812)

Stanza. Check it out.

Slightly misleading headline (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949944)

The headline can be read to suggest that more ebook apps are sold than games, while the summary clarifies the matter that there are more ebook apps released than games in the past time period. The sales data would tell us more about which is more successful on this platform.

Not surprising (0, Troll)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952590)

Mobile games are shit. Books on mobiles isn't so bad so e-books will definitely over take one of the shittiest forms of gaming.

iPhone = kindle, but without any "Amazon" fuel (1)

Dan B. (20610) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957176)

Like many others I saw the real reason for the introduction of the app store changes in the 3.0 release of iPhone firmware; the ability to produce a framework app that allowed paid content distribution. This opened up the iPhone to content owners/providers as a portal for their paid content, and in the case of book publishers, a new medium through which to supply ebooks without fear of them hitting the internet for mass duplication as PDF.

Remember that Apple are big supporters of DRM, and they are just looking for a small piece of the publication profits for e-distribution. With the upcoming 'slate', this will be extended to movies, newspapers and other paid content too.

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