Google Books cutting off independent eBooksellers starting 2013

Google announced today in a post on the Inside Google Books blog that it would be discontinuing its reseller program that allowed independent booksellers to sell through Google’s eBook services. The American Booksellers Association sent letters to its members informing them that about 350 independent bookstores selling eBooks through Google’s reseller program would end as of Jan. 31, 2013. The full letter (via Paid Content) is below.

Google’s explanation comes from Director of Product Management for Digital Publishing Scott Dougall:

Looking at the results to-date, it’s clear that the reseller program has not met the needs of many readers or booksellers. While our role as an ebooks wholesaler to booksellers will be coming to a close next year, we remain as committed as ever to making the eBooks experience from Google the best it can be for readers around the world.

For books that customers have already purchased, Google confirmed they would continue to “be able to access and read their eBooks on the web, phones, tablets and compatible eReaders.” Google will also help its 16 reseller partners “as they transition in the coming months” by continuing to give access to free Books APIs and highlighting them in the “Buy this book” section of Google Book search.

The full letter from the ABA to its members is below:

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Google offers premium 1-year GoMo subscription at no charge, hopes to lead mobile advertising

Google expanded its GoMo initiative to offer small businesses an opportunity to mobilize their websites for free.

According to Fortune, the Mountain View, Calif.-based search engine teamed with startup Duda Mobile to offer the $9 per month service at no cost for an entire year starting today. Users will save $108 a year, and then they can purchase the premium service after the complimentary period ends—if desired.

In a blog post, Duda Mobile’s Dennis Mink explained the collaboration:

Our hope is that by offering both the education AND the service at no cost for one year, we can help businesses make the shift to mobile more quickly, benefiting both their business as well as us consumers who no longer want to pinch and zoom our way through their regular websites on our phones.

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LTE Samsung Galaxy S Aviator available on US Cellular, looks suspiciously like Droid Charge

If you really liked the Droid Charge’s look and feel, with its fast LTE speeds and physical buttons, but did not want to jump on Verizon Wireless, U.S. Cellular has a phone with a similar experience. The Samsung Galaxy S Aviator sticks out with the following features:

  • ·         Android 2.3.6 (Gingerbread)
  • ·         4.3-inch Super AMOLED™ Plus touchscreen
  • ·         8 megapixel rear-facing camera
  • ·         Front facing webcam
  • ·         HDMI port

I am surprisingly a big fan of real buttons, because you can feel them for navigation, and sometimes capacitance gets all out of whack.

Otherwise, the Charge is a solid phone on Verizon, and now U.S. Cellular owners will have a nice option too.

The press release follows:

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YouTube adds 3D viewing for all short 1080p videos, says 4D is around the corner (Videos)

YouTube now automatically allows short 1080p videos to convert to 3D.

The video-sharing platform just announced on the official YouTube blog that it is expanding a beta feature released last year, which gives users the option to convert YouTube videos to 3D with just a click of a mouse. Since the beta launched, creators have converted hundreds of thousands of videos to 3D.

The popularity of the feature encouraged YouTube to implement 3D viewing in the Quality settings under the gear icon on the YouTube player.

“Then pop on your 3D glasses and see YouTube in another dimension (like the video above),” explained Technical Staffer Deb Mukherjee and Software Engineer Chen Wu in the blog post.

The Googlers even recommended watching “YouTube Rewind 2011″ to get the full YouTube 3D experience (below).

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One of Google’s top PR guys, Gabriel Stricker, to become Twitter’s top PR guy

The announcement was made— naturally— by Twitter:

Google still lists Stricker as Director of Global Communications & Public Affairs, where he reported to Senior Vice President Communications Rachel Whetstone:

Gabriel Stricker is Director of Global Communications & Public Affairs at Google Inc. where he heads Search communications – addressing everything from web search and other search properties (such as Maps, Earth, News and Books) to issues pertaining to partnerships, content, and the use of intellectual property. Gabriel received his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley and his master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University. He is the author of the bestselling book on guerrilla marketing entitled, Mao In the Boardroom, published by St. Martin’s Press.

At Twitter, he is now called Vice President of Communications.

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Sprint’s HTC EVO One event: Notes and Pictures

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Notes from the event:

  • - Narrator introduction: Sprint was the first carrier with nationwide 4G, first with 3G, and it unveiled the first 3D phone.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse takes the presentation stage floor:

  • - He talks about Sprint’s successful partnership with HTC and Evo.
  • - Showcases network vision, which is an initiative designed to give customers a better network coverage and experience.
  • - He mentions that Evo is an HD voice- capable phone. Mobile voice quality is crystal clear. Enhanced voice quality for Sprint stems back to fiber optic network days of Sprint’s heritage.

HTC President Jason Mackenzie takes the stage to unveil new Evo One:

  • - It has only been two years since both companies originally launched the HTC Evo flagship device.
  • - It was the first 4G smartphone to launch in the United States. This year represents a turning point for HTC, because it is delivering true hero products with beautiful designs, amazing cameras, and an authentic sound.
  • - HTC is not just all about specs; it believes experience is key.
  • - Evo One’s Sense 4 is faster, cleaner, and more intuitive than ever before for delivering a premium experience.
  • - Evo One boasts an amazing camera and awesome sound experience.
  • -Design is something HTC has always been serious about, and it is doubling down this year so phones look and feel great.

HTC Lead Designer Jonah Becker takes the stage to discuss the Evo One’s design:

  • - The Evo name stands for the very best. It features authentic material with meticulous attention to detail.
  • - The Evo One is crafted from aluminum, first given a black finish, and then the edge’s surface is cleaned of edge to bring a highlight to the device’s look.
  • - Design process discussed next (video demo): Red kickstand gives the Evo One an HTC look, but it also serves a purpose.
  • - The Evo One has a soft touch finish and blasted aluminum for texture, and then it undergoes a chemical etching process to create something new to industry without painting or coating.
  • - About 100 different machine cutters are used to create all the features and geometry needed in the HTC Evo One—and people notice. A much-better designed product. “It’s what I want in my pocket.”
  • - New Evo is also a high-end camera like an SLR, and the red ring around lens mimics high-end cameras, while the red band on the back reinforces the HTC brand.
  • - The aluminum gives the Evo One a precise feel, and an actual camera button gives it a real feel.
  • - It is also a multimedia powerhouse; hardware is just a passage to content.
  • - Crisp, rectangular phone mimics TV, and its kickstand lets you go hands free.

Sprint Product Chief Fared Adib takes stage to talk about camera features:

  • - The camera: True digital SLR in phone.
  • - The Evo One sports HTC image sense technology and dedicated imaging chip, with super fast camera startup and auto focus to allow four frames per second in a continuous shooting mode.
  • - Image sense f/2.4 lens with HDR and smart flash makes sure every picture is perfect, i.e., not too dark or too light.
  • - The Evo One takes videos and photos simultaneously without switching between modes. While shooting video, just click shutter button to snap a picture.

Sprint CEO and HTC President are back on stage to conclude presentation:

  • - The HTC Evo One has a focus on sound: Rich, authentic sound with Beats Audio by Dr. Dre.
  • - Evo One has a media manager to get sound from computer to phone, but the music hub also gives access to a user’s music in apps and all other places. Streaming options to car and TV are also available.
  • - HTC voice: In 2012, Sprint will serve 500 million voice minutes. Sprint’s beloved HD voice is the future of phone calls. It is possible through a combination of dual microphones, decoders, encoders, and networks for a richer sound.
  • - Demo video depicts reduced background sound very well. “Hearing is believing.”
  • - Key features: 2,000 mAh batter, 4.7-inch HD screen, and Snapdragon dual core processor, Beats Audio by Dr. Dre, Ice Cream Sandwich OS with Sense 4.0, and a 8-megapixel shooter and 1.3-megapixel camera.

The HTC Evo One will be available in the second quarter for $199.99. Pre-sale starts May 7.

Demonstration area opens:

  • - I played with the phone. It looks cool—feels sturdy and valuable, yet the screen is huge. I had trouble handling it, because I am use to the smaller iPhone. Snapping photos while recording video was excellent. The fast startup and auto focus was also impressive. Camera features are cool too: built-in vignette, panorama, HDR, face detection for group shots, and more. The HD voice demo was amazing, as well. It highlighted absolutely no background sound despite the noisy area. I think the HTC Evo One is a quality phone. There is nothing that stands out when it comes to the user interface, though, as it looks like a typical Android smartphone.

The full-sized pictures are below:

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Google updates Gmail, Street View, and Google Books for Android

Google just rolled out updates to a few of its Android apps, the biggest of which brings a ton of new features to “Gmail for Android” 3.2 (Honeycomb) users. Previously, only Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich users had access to features like swiping between conversations, custom notifications for labels, and the ability to sync messages for the last 30 days. All of those features and the rest of the Ice Cream Sandwich Gmail experience are now being implemented for Honeycomb users. The updated app is available on Google Play now, and a full list of the features is below:

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Google CEO Larry Page says Steve Jobs’ fury over Android was just to rally troops

In a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Google’s Chief Executive Officer Larry Page talked at length about his new role as chief and his plans for the future of Android, Motorola, and the rest of the company. Much the interview revolved around Android and Google’s relationship with other companies, and Page was asked about his relationship with Steve Jobs towards the end. He was also asked about the state of Android tablets and his thoughts on Apple’s recently announced dividend.

When the interviewer mentioned Google and Jobs had their “differences” about Android, presumably referring to Jobs’ claims that Android is a “stolen product,” Page claimed Jobs’ anger towards Android/Google was “actually for show”:

I think the Android differences were actually for show. I had a relationship with Steve. I wouldn’t say I spent a lot of time with him over the years, but I saw him periodically. Curiously enough, actually, he requested that meeting. He sent me an e-mail and said: “Hey, you want to get together and chat?” I said, “Sure, I’ll come over.” And we had a very nice talk. We always did when we had a discussion generally… He was quite sick. I took it as an honor that he wanted to spend some time with me. I figured he wanted to spend time with his family at that point. He had a lot of interesting insights about how to run a company and that was pretty much what we discussed.

He continued when encouraged to elaborate on his “for show” comment:
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Preview: Sprint’s HTC EVO One Pictured

The first HTC Evo One reviews are starting to flood the gate before its official launch tonight and initial impressions indicate the device has both good and bad points. said the smartphone is bulky, yet it boasts stellar-quality Beats Audio by Dr. Dre, Ice Cream Sandwich OS with Sense 4.0, and a 8-megapixel shooter and 1.3-megapixel camera worth drooling over.

Despite the praise, the reviewer noted the device “just feels like HTC’s same old thing.” The trimmed Sense and usual ICS experience seemed a bit ho-hum, but then he added that his time spent with the smartphone was limited so complete details are not possible at this time.

A screenshot gallery is available below.

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Rumors: Samsung Galaxy S III enters testing in South Korea, abandons PenTile screen display

The rumor mill is grinding away after a Samsung representative announced the Galaxy S III is now in the testing phase, while other reports indicate the device will sport a Galaxy Nexus-like screen without employing PenTile pixel layout.

AsiaE reported the device is undergoing tests in South Korea. The phase typically lasts two months, but the article suggested Samsung wants testing done sooner. Meanwhile, Korean website DDaily said the smartphone’s 4.65-inch 720p Super AMOLED screen will not employ the PenTile pixel layout.

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Google reveals Project Glass(es)

Google today revealed what we have been talking about for months (here and here): Google Glasses.  The project is called “Project Glass,” and now there is even a Plus page on it.

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Via Hugo Barra

I probably do not have to say this, but TAKE MY MONEY!!!! Read more

Instagram for Android hits a million downloads in 24 hours, getting 2K signups a minute

While iPhone users might not be happy that their beloved photo-sharing app has finally made its way to Android, over a million users of Google’s platform have downloaded the app in its first 24 hours of availability. Google Play now lists 1 million to 5 million installs and the company’s Chief Executive Officer Kevin Systrom told The New York Times that the app is experiencing over 2,000 signups per minute.

There was clearly huge anticipation for the app, which has been available on iOS since October 2010, with over 430,000 people preregistered to download the app before its official launch yesterday. Instagram is currently home to over 30 million registered users on iOS, and it took the app approximately six months to hit the 5 million-user mark, according to CBS. Of course, the Android version would pass that milestone this week if it continues at its current rate.

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