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Old 09-13-2007, 08:49 AM   #1
Bob Russell
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Why Adobe may be good for the new ePub standard e-book format

As recently announced, ePub is the newly approved IDPF e-book standard for publishers and consumers. It includes a zip-based container format for all the relevant files (probably most important for publishers), and it includes a reflowable XHTML format for the actual book contents.

One of the questions that needs to be asked is what the presence of Adobe and Digital Editions will mean to the standard. Is Adobe likely to support it in a manner that adds value, or will we see it consistently subvert the standard? Fortunately, all signs seem to point to Adobe being a solid supporter. They have been a team member with the IDPF, and comments on Bill McCoy's blog have generally given the impression that Bill is not only an advocate of a common reflowable standard, but that he wants this one to succeed. (By the way, Bill McCoy is General Manager, ePublishing Business, Adobe Systems Incorporated, so his opinions do matter.)

But we have seen a lot of rhetoric from companies about how they support open standards who don't really end up helping the standard at all. There are other companies, content related companies especially, who even shun standards. Remember the way digital Sony music players wouldn't even support MP3 until recently? They pushed the more expensive Memory Stick on us, when everyone else was using SD or CF. But it's hard to completely shun standards and win customers at the same time. Recently, we see them becoming much more of a good community member with support for things like MP3 and SD cards in the Sony Reader, for example.

Apple may be going the opposite direction. We hear constantly about anti-competitive moves and moves against interoperability, yet they seem to get a free pass. Microsoft has a reputation for adopting and then extending/distorting and then destroying standards.

But if you think about it, Adobe is one of the few significant players in the content game that has actually "walked the walk". Look how widespread and the PDF format is, and how Adobe seems to not sabotage others who want to use it or create tools for it without an Adobe partnership. And look at what a huge benefit it has been for non-reflowable page layout type content. They manage to make money with it, but everyone wins and you see all kinds of PDF tools and content everywhere.

I don't want to minimize the contribution of other players in the potential success of the ePub standard, but one cannot help but focus on Adobe right now early in the game. EPub is aiming to be a popular standard on both the e-book publishing and consuming sides, and with Adobe's Digital Edition and other support, ePub might just have a real shot. Adobe appears to be willing to support the standard without trying to kill it, and so while everyone else is talking about being good for standards and the general community, we have seen Adobe actually live it.

Let us know what you think. Is this a naive look at Adobe and ePub, or is ePub a big step forward for reflowable content with a true Adobe supporter?
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Old 09-13-2007, 09:36 AM   #2
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I guess every company has two sides in this game. I respect Adobe for standing behind this new standard, on the other hand, even Adobe is not a "good company" if you look at the DRM version of PDF. Currently only Adobe's Reader supports opening those DRM protected files - as far as I know...

The same is probably true for other companies. Microsoft does include open standards as well, but as you said, often mixes them with their own ideas to produce incompatibility. Apple as well: They base almost everything on open standards (MP4, PDF display engine, ...) but have added some incompatibilities (e.g. their own DRM on top of MP4).

The main reason for this to happen is, that the standardisation group is usually slow on expanding the standard. So if a company want's to differentiate its products from others they will end up adding stuff to the standard in a non-compatible way. in some cases those ideas go back to the original standard, but of course it might be a lengthy process until every party is happy with the extension...
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Old 09-13-2007, 10:49 AM   #3
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Well, Adobe just hired Nick Bogaty, who was the executive director of the IDPF. Mr. Bogaty will head up digital publishing business development for Adobe going forward:

http://www.teleread.org/blog/?p=7019

I would say this event makes it likely that Adobe will continue to be a champion of the IDPF.
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Old 09-13-2007, 10:50 AM   #4
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Adobe are probably good news because their business is primarily about selling tools for content producers. They have an incentive to ensure that their readers are ubiquitous and that content providers only need to author content once. Adobe promoted the hell out of pdf because they made a ton of money out of Acrobat Professional. No other reason.

But people shouldn't be under any illusions, the DRM will be proprietary, so Adobe's Eigital Editions will only open certain content and not others (and visa-versa).

And the attack on Apple is pretty gratuitous really. The music industry wanted an effective DRM system that safeguarded their content before they would allow a legal download service. Apple gave them what they wanted and managed to build a successful legal download service. But they are equally happy selling EMI DRM-free tracks.

Apple have a pretty good record for supporting standrads - much better than Microsoft (OK I know not saying much). The most standards-compliant browser is Apple's Safari.
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Old 09-13-2007, 11:05 AM   #5
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And the attack on Apple is pretty gratuitous really. The music industry wanted an effective DRM system that safeguarded their content before they would allow a legal download service. Apple gave them what they wanted and managed to build a successful legal download service. But they are equally happy selling EMI DRM-free tracks.
It's also possible to convert once you have downloaded. The issue with Apple isn't DRM, it's an attempt to lock you into their platform. Apple's approach assumes you have an iPod as music player, or will get one to listen to music from iTunes. If you don't have an iPod, you must jump through a few hoops to use their content.

Apple is like any other hardware manufacturer: they want to drive customers to their product line.

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Apple have a pretty good record for supporting standards - much better than Microsoft (OK I know not saying much). The most standards-compliant browser is Apple's Safari.
Not the last I knew. No browser is fully standards compliant. The best of the lot are Firefox, Opera, and Safari, in about that order.
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Old 09-13-2007, 12:12 PM   #6
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Safari was the first to pass the ACID 2 test. Yes others have caught up since then. I'm not sure what the next step is after you pass that test.
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Old 09-13-2007, 01:22 PM   #7
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Apple has very nice Unicode support, as well. It's why I returned to the Mac platform after an extended lapse -- I needed to be able to type in Chinese.
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Old 09-14-2007, 01:29 AM   #8
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well i would say apple and adobe have terrible unicode support!
chinese may work for you, but indic script support is basically non-existant unless youre using windows with uniscribe rendering engine...

i argue that microsoft better supports unicode and opentype, as well as other standards that are standardized. like someone else pointed out... it takes to time for these groups to actually agree and standardize on things. in the mean time you gotta make up for whats not there somehow.
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Old 09-19-2007, 01:41 PM   #9
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Apple may be considering even more extreme moves with the iPhone.
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post...ve-bricks.html
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Apple will actively work against any SIM unlocks of the iPhone, says Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs made the comments during a Q&A session that took place after yesterday's press event in London announcing availability details of the iPhone in the UK. When asked by a journalist whether unlocking was a concern for the company, Jobs said, "It's a constant cat and mouse game," according to ComputerWorld's account of the discussion. "We try to stay ahead. People will try to break in, and it's our job to stop them breaking in."
Interestingly, whether they brick the unlocked phones or not, Jobs definitely says he's on a mission to fight against unlocking. Yet there's no outcry.

But in Apple's defense, everyone seems to be in agreement that the real obstacle to progress and consumer joy is the oppressive policies and control of the carriers. Apple may only be doing what ATT is requiring of them. Or... it might just be that Apple wants their cut of carrier service subscriptions.

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Apple's stance on stopping hackers is different depending on the hack. When it came to hacking the Apple TV and introducing the first set of native iPhone applications—something that cannot be done the "legit" way because of Apple's lack of a formal SDK for developers—Apple took a neutral stance. Apple's Greg Joswiak said last week that Apple wouldn't stop anyone from writing the apps or actively work against them, but the company would also not make an effort not to break the hacks when releasing its own software updates. After all, the hacks are not officially supported.

But when it comes to SIM unlocking the iPhone, the game changes drastically. Although Apple has less to lose by customers unlocking the device than AT&T, the company is bound by its contract to AT&T to do what it can to ensure that customers use the designated carrier. And Apple does have something to lose—the company is widely known to be getting a cut of subscription fees from AT&T for each person that buys and uses an iPhone. While it's unclear exactly how much Apple gets per customer, analyst estimates amount to millions of dollars per year in subscription fees going directly to Apple.
But my point is not to say whether Apple is right or wrong. It's to mention it because Apple seems to get away with it. If Sony or Palm or MS or others were to do the same thing, what would be the reaction?
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Old 09-19-2007, 04:20 PM   #10
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But my point is not to say whether Apple is right or wrong. It's to mention it because Apple seems to get away with it. If Sony or Palm or MS or others were to do the same thing, what would be the reaction?
Apple makes great hardware that's cool
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Old 09-20-2007, 01:09 AM   #11
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The problem is the iphone unlocked only works on AT&T's service. This gives them a Monoploy. Illegal in the USA.

Unlocking the iphone 100% legal in the USA.

Get lost APPLE.
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Old 09-20-2007, 02:31 AM   #12
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The problem is the iphone unlocked only works on AT&T's service. This gives them a Monoploy. Illegal in the USA.

Unlocking the iphone 100% legal in the USA.

Get lost APPLE.
Um- I fail to see how this gives them a monopoly. Are you saying that the iPhone is the only Smartphone available to carriers? Did Palm, Microsoft, Nokia etc all just drop out?

Or are you saying that the iPhone is so far beyond everyone else's smartphone that it is in a class by itself- and therefore constitutes a monopoly? This is hardly Apple's fault- they can't be blamed for Palm and Microsoft's incompetence- these companies have had smartphones out for years. Why didn't we seen the iPhone released by one of them? Palm in particular has been working on the smartphone for a decade now.
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Old 09-20-2007, 05:05 AM   #13
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Apple may be considering even more extreme moves with the iPhone.
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post...ve-bricks.html


Interestingly, whether they brick the unlocked phones or not, Jobs definitely says he's on a mission to fight against unlocking. Yet there's no outcry.

But in Apple's defense, everyone seems to be in agreement that the real obstacle to progress and consumer joy is the oppressive policies and control of the carriers. Apple may only be doing what ATT is requiring of them. Or... it might just be that Apple wants their cut of carrier service subscriptions.
Erm have you noticed that the iPod Phone and iPod Touch are pretty much the same tune. A reasonable guess is that the phone is being subsidised - by how much I don't know. Expecting to get a subsidised phone without locking is simply expecting to get something for nothing and last time I looked phone carriers were not charities. Quite right there's no outcry. Why should there be? A freeloader is a freeloader is a freeloader.

Maybe Apple should be selling unlocked phones at full price but I wonder how many people would buy them
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Old 09-20-2007, 10:19 AM   #14
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A reasonable guess is that the phone is being subsidised ....
I'd agree with you if it weren't for the minor detail that both AT&T and Apple keep saying it isn't being subsidized.
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Old 09-25-2007, 09:11 AM   #15
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Also the price is high for a subsidized device. Locking phones is all about control, same as any system that limits what you can do with something you paid for.
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