The following list was compiled by PGA New Media Council member, Susan Zwerman. It’s meant to be a work-in-progress, and comments and suggestions are welcomed:

AccuWeather ver 2.0: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/accuweather-for-iphone/id300048137?mt=8
Gives video forecasts as well as accurate weather information. Can email weather report directly through your iPhone or iPad. (Free)
Action Log: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/action-log/id316992969?mt=8
Action Log is a film and television-logging tool, designed for use on location or in a studio with up to 25 recording devices. At the touch of a button the logging system keeps track of all reel names and time codes for each recorded piece of action. For iPhone or iPad. (Free)
Align of Sight: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/align-of-sight/id385134018?mt=8
For Precision Photography, Visual Effects, Match-Moving and Location Scouting. Record and log any view vector in space & time and align live camera angles to previously recorded Lines-Of-Sight and specific sun direction. Used as a digital level on a camera. For iPhone or iPad ($14.99)
Artemis: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/artemis-directors-viewfinder/id324917457?mt=8
A Digital Directors viewfinder. For the iPhone (Free)
Artemis Remote for the iPad: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/artemis-remote-for-iPad/id372459098?mt=8
Directors Viewfinder and Remote – Use your iPhone 4 camera as a director’s viewfinder to plan out shots, and feed that information over Wi-Fi to your iPad. You can select the lens size, ratio, etc. For iPad. ($4.99)
Aspect Ratio Calculator: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/aspect-ratio-calc/id423170814?mt=8
Calculates video aspect ratios and pixel dimensions. Presets are provided for common formats. Results can be copied to the clipboard or emailed. For iPhone and iPad. ($1.99)
CamCard: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/camcard-lite-business-card/id355472887?mt=8
Scans and reads business cards and convert to contacts. Can save contact information in Card Holder or iPhone Address Book. For iPhone or iPad. (Free)
Camera for iPad: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/camera-for-ipad/id366129244?mt=8
Add a camera to your iPad – wirelessly. Easily connects any two devices to send the camera from one to the other. Simply start Camera for iPad on both devices, and they’ll find each other. Your iPad shows what the iPhone’s camera sees. For iPhone and iPad. ($.99)
Celtx Shots: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/celtx-shots/id467370902?mt=8
Celtx Shots is the first app with both storyboarding and set blocking built-in, so you can create storyboards and block scenes in the field or on the set. For iPhone or iPad. (Free)
Storyboard Composer: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/storyboard-composer/id325697961?mt=8
Storyboard Composer is a mobile story boarding application. No need to know how to draw. This app allows you to portray your vision to others in an easy controllable format. Designed for Directors, Directors of Photography, Producers, Writers, Animators, Art Directors, film students and anyone who wants to be able to visualize their story. For iPhone or iPad. ($14.99)
Daylight: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/daylight/id324528814?mt=8
Display sunrise and sunset times for your current location, at any point in time. For iPhone or iPad. (Free)
Documents To Go: (Office Suite) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/documents-to-go-office-suite/id317117961?mt=8
Enables you to read and edit Word and Excel docs from your computer on your iPhone i.e. call sheet. This app can also view PowerPoint, PDF, iWork, Text, and RTF files on both the iPad and iPhone. Need to sync iPhone or iPad with a Desktop application to use. ($9.99)
Documents 2: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/documents-2-free-spreadsheet/id314894105?mt=8
Mobile app that lets you see any type of office document on your iPhone, iPad Also can transfer documents to/from your iPhone via FTP or Wi-Fi, Google, or Email. For iPhone or iPad. (Free)
Doddle Premium: http://www.doddleme.com/registration/pro-preview/
Create Digital Interactive Call Sheets right on your iPhone. Auto Update Weather and Emergency info for your shoot by just adding a location and date. Get interactive Map locations by adding in set address. If you make a change on your call sheet you can send out an email notifying the crew in your address book of that change. For iPhone and iPad. ($2.99)
DOFMaster: http://www.dofmaster.com/iPhone.html
Calculates depth of field for photography and provides best f-stop and lens combination. For iPhone. ($1.99)
Dropbox: http://www.dropbox.com/iPhoneapp or http://www.dropbox.com/ipad
Save and restore documents for moving to multiple devices. Bring your files with you wherever you go. Easy to upload photos and videos to Dropbox. For iPhone or iPad. (Free)
Easy Release: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/easy-release-model-release/id360835268?mt=8
Create release forms for talent. There are pre-canned release forms to get you started, simply fill in the blanks, save the form as a template. Hand this form to your talent so they can sign with their finger. Email the PDF to them and yourself. For iPhone and iPad. ($9.99)
Movie Slate: http://www.movie-slate.com/
All-in-one digital slate, clapperboard, shot log, and notepad are used for film, TV, documentaries, music videos, and interviews. It records both for the iPhone and iPad all of a shot’s production, GPS location, and time code data and is stored to the MovieSlate’s shot log history. This report can then be exported and viewed on your web browser. iPhone 3GS or later and iPad ($24.99)
Evernote: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/evernote/id281796108?mt=8
Evernote is an easy-to-use list maker that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. This app lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders–and makes these notes completely searchable. For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
Fahrenheit: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fahrenheit-weather-temperature/id426939660?mt=8
A weather application that uses latest technology to show the current temperature of any location. This app gives you detailed weather information of unlimited cities worldwide with an easy-to-use user interface. For iPhone and iPad. ($.99)
FDX Reader: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fdx-reader/id437362569?mt=8
Reader for Final Draft scripts for the iPhone and iPad. Final Draft uses a file format called .FDX. If you’ve ever attempted to open one of these files on iOS, you get raw XML. With FDX you get a screenplay nicely formatted. For iPhone and iPad. ($7.99)
FiLMiC Pro: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/filmic-pro/id436577167?mt=8
This app gives you more control over iPhone movie recording. It turns your iPhone into a fullfeatured HD video camera. For iPhone and iPad. ($3.99)
Flashlight: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/flashlight-o/id381471023?mt=8
Works like a real small flashlight. This app helps you see when it’s night exterior inside or outside. For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
Final Draft Reader: http://www.finaldraft.com/products/mobile/reader/
It precisely displays production scripts, including colored production pages exactly as they appear on your desktop – perfectly paginated. You can make script notes directly on your iPad. For iPad only. ($19.99)
Flipboard: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/flipboard/id358801284?mt=8
For both the iPhone and iPad. Internet access to web, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. Creates a personalized magazine out from shared files. For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
Genius Scan: PDF Scanner http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/genius-scan-pdf-scanner/id377672876?mt=8
Genius Scan turns your iPhone into a pocket scanner. It enables you to quickly scan documents on the go and email the scans as JPEG or PDF. For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
GoodReader for iPhone: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/goodreader-for-iPhone/id306277111?mt=8
PDF reader with advanced reading. You can read virtually anything, anywhere: books, movies, maps, and pictures. The ability to mark-up PDFs opens up new doors to GoodReader users who can now use typewriter text boxes, sticky notes, lines, arrows, and freehand drawings on top of a PDF file. This version is free for iPhone. For iPad, get “GoodReader for iPad.” ($4.99)
GPS by TeleNav: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gps-by-telenav/id414817704?mt=8
3D maps with live traffic flow, turn-by-turn directions with manual re-routing, local search, and cheap gas price finder. Now with Facebook integration & enhanced map discovery. For iPhone 3GS, 4, 3G and iPad and iPad 2. (Free)
Group Email: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/groups/id407855546?mt=8
Create and manage groups of contacts . Email a group of contacts as well as attach images to your group emails. For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
Group Text: (textPlus free texting & group text): http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/textplus-free-texting-+-group/id314487667?mt=8
Can use this app for free texting. . For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
Helios Sun Position Calculator: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/helios-sun-position-calculator/id311648870?mt=8
This application graphically predicts the path of the sun from dusk to dawn, on any given day, in any given place. Good for Cinematographers and Still Photographers working in natural light. For iPhone and iPad. ($29.99)
iAnnotate PDF: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/iannotate-pdf/id363998953?mt=8
This app has a fully searchable library to organize, find, and read your documents. It is used for taking notes on lecture slides, annotating important business documents, revising screenplays, and grading papers. For iPad only. ($9.99)
IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/apps/iPhone/
Specifically for IMDB access on the web. Internet industry database – large connection of movie, TV and celebrity info. For iPhone and iPad (Free)
iMovie: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/imovie/id377298193?mt=8
Great way to do simple edits on the go. For iPhone and iPad. ($4.99)
Instapaper: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/instapaper/id288545208?mt=8
Save and access web pages to read later when you are without Internet connection. For iPhone and iPad ($4.99)
iSlatehttp://itunes.apple.com/us/app/islate/id295464071?mt=8
Simple slate and easy to use as a portable digital clapper board. Digital Slate for Red Camera. For iPhone and iPad. ($2.99)
iVideoCamera: http://itunes.apple.com/app/ivideocamera-record-video/id332166209?mt=8
Now with tons of effects, this app records videos for older iPhones as well. For iPhone and iPad. ($.99)
LightMeter: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/light-meter-free/id410228606?mt=8
A simple light meter. For iPhone and iPad (Free)
LiVE-PLAY: http://lightiron.com/services/live-play
Automated Video Playback – LiVE PLAY is a streaming playback tool designed to enhance existing VTR setups on the set. With LiVE PLAY, iPads can be used as monitor for serving an unlimited amount of clips and are completely secure. It lets users view, share, and comment on clips from their LiVE PLAY-equipped iPads. For iPad. ($34.99)
MapQuest 4 Mobile: http://www.macworld.com/appguide/app.html?id=113106&expand=true
FREE voice-guided, turn-by-turn, GPS navigation for iPhone. Your phone speaks to you, telling you when to make a turn. Easily search with a single click while on the go. Stay on schedule by checking live traffic en route. If you take a wrong turn, MapQuest re-routes you automatically. For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
MatchLens: http://itunes.apple.com/app/matchlens/id315223799?mt=8
This calculator computes the equivalent lens focal length to produce the same field of view between two cameras with different aperture/sensor sizes. It will do a “Match Lens” calculation, and produce the closest equivalent angle of view lens, in millimeters, for both vertical and horizontal frames. For iPhone and iPad. ($9.99)
Movie Magic Scheduling To Go for the iPad http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/movie-magic-scheduling-to-go/id428072812?mt=8
It only works with a file that is created in Movie Magic Scheduling 5 and can make changes with the touch of a screen. Movie Magic Scheduling To Go provides a mobile companion solution to the desktop version of Movie Magic Scheduling 5 for use on the iPad. It allows you to make changes to your existing schedule in a simple touch screen interface. For iPad. ($29.99)
Movie Slate http://www.movie-slate.com/
With each closing of the clapper, MovieSlate automatically creates a shot log with your production, timecode, notes, and even the GPS location of your shots. For iPad and iPhone. ($24.99)
MyRadar: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/myradar-weather-radar/id322439990?mt=8
Regular MyRadar is free and fast and easy to use. It displays animated weather radar around your current location, allowing you to quickly see weather patterns coming your way. For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
Notes to Store: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/notes-to-store/id364740608?mt=8
Create notebooks of unlimited pages, type text, import photos, draw on photos or sketch. For iPad. ($1.99)
OmniFocus http://www.omnigroup.com/products/omnifocus-iPad
This is a personal task management app. Keep it all up-to-date and take your to-dos to-in sync your devices. Categorize your tasks by the tool, resource, or location required to accomplish them. For iPhone ($19.99) and for iPad. ($39.99)
OmniGraffle: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/omnigraffle/id363225984?mt=8
Your iPad touch screen is your canvas. It provides stencils full of objects for you to drag and drop, and it can magically organize diagrams so your ideas come to life. For iPad. ($49.99)
Orchestra to-do: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/orchestra-to-do/id459356540?mt=8
This app is a list maker. If everyone has it, you can send out and update to-do lists wirelessly. Good for inter-department app. Automatically syncs between the iPhone and the web for home/work, and can also create tasks with your voice. For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
PanaScout –Lite: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/panascout-lite/id371341478?mt=8
For crews scouting locations. This app shows the Cinematographer’s viewpoint from a professional cinema camera. For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
PanaScout: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/panascout/id361799671?mt=8
This is more advanced than the Lite version, with zoom issue resolved. It allows you to upload your stills to Final Cut. 360 Panorama – take location stills and stitch them together. For iPhone and iPad. ($9.99)
pCAM Film+Digital Calculator: http://www.davideubank.com/Good_Focus/pCAM_Film+Digital_Calculator.html
Many features for Cinematographers, Camera Operators & Assistants, VFX Supervisors, Script Supervisors and Still Photographers. Calculates Depth of Field, Splits-Aperture Finder, Field of View (Picture Sizes), Focal Length, Exposure, and Running Time Length. For iPhone and iPad. ($29.99)
PDF Expert: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pdf-expert-fill-forms annotate/id393316844?mt=8
It lets you read and annotate PDF documents, highlight text, make notes, draw with your finger and save these changes being compatible with Preview and Adobe Acrobat. This iPad application can fill in PDF forms. You can get PDF files from desktop computers, email attachments, documents on Dropbox, MobileMe iDisk, GoogleDocs etc. For iPad ($9.99)
PDF Reader: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pdf-reader-iPad-edition/id367816156?mt=8
PDF Reader can read all PDF files. For iPhone ($1.99) and iPad. ($4.99)
Phone Aid: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/phone-aid/id293019352?mt=8
Phone Aid contains real-time slideshows with clear, intuitive pictures and voice instructions that guide you through CPR and how to help a choking person when it really happens. You will also get an A-Z First Aid guide where you will find simple, straight forward advice on how to initially handle the most common injuries and illnesses such as, drowning, convulsions, burn injury, snake bite etc. For iPhone and iPad. ($1.99)
Photosynth: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photosynth/id430065256?mt=8
This is a panorama creation app that makes it easy to capture and share interactive panoramas of the locations. Photosynth allows you to make a panorama from left to right, as well as up and down, thus enabling you to capture a full “sphere” (3D image of the location). For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
PlainText: Dropbox text editing http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/plaintext-dropbox-text-editing/id391254385?mt=8
This app is a simple text edit and allows you to create and organize your documents in folders and sync everything with Dropbox.com. For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
ProPrompter: https://apps.bodelin.com/
The universal app can sync between iPad and iPhone, so you can use your iPhone to remote control the iPad scrolling. For iPhone and iPad. ($9.99)
Rdm+ http://www.rdmplus.com/
Remote desktop for mobiles. This uses your computer on your iPhone if both are running. Works with both PC and MAC. For iPhone and iPad. ($9.99)
ReelDirector: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/reeldirector/id334366844?mt=8
Video editor that can create and edit movies right on the iPhone/iPad and includes a drag-anddrop timeline. For iPhone and iPad. ($4.99)
Screenplay: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/screenplay/id322410822?mt=8
Writing scripts index card -write up index cards and group, color them accordingly. For iPhone and iPad. ($4.99)
ShotList -Movie Shoot Planning: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/shotlist-movie-shoot-planning/id424885833?mt=8
ShotList shows a production stripboard to your mobile device, allowing the planning and tracking of every scene of a shoot as it happens. For iPhone and iPad. ($11.99)
Speedtest: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/speedtest.net-mobile-speed/id300704847?mt=8
Tests Internet speeds – one tap connection under 30 seconds to find out your upload, download and Ping speeds. For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
Squiggles: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/squiggles/id284927554?mt=8
This is a paint and image app that can create some sophisticated looking artwork with ease. Take a photo or select an image with your device and then doodle on it. Decorate with many overlay images and special stamp brushes. For iPhone and iPad. ($.99)
Storyboards: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/storyboards/id392533504?mt=8
Storyboards allows you to create your movie’s storyboard without requiring any drawing ability. Hundreds of characters and props are included inside this library. The free version lets you create up to 2 storyboards of 10 drawings. For iPad. (Free)
Sun Chaser: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sun-chaser/id428454778?mt=8
SunChaser is an app to calculate sun’s setting and rising time with the use of iPhone that detects your location. For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
Sun Compass: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sun-compass-for-iPad-ipod/id367001553?mt=8
This compass app determines your direction by calculating the current sun position. Sun predictor, less advanced than Helios. For iPhone and iPad. ($.99)
Sunrise Sunset Pro http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sunrise-sunset-pro/id319184913?mt=8
Displays sunrise/set times, dawn, dusk, solar noon, sun positions throughout the day. For iPhone and iPad. ($1.99)
Sun Seeker: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sun-seeker-3d-augmented-reality/id330247123?mt=8
Provides a flat view compass and an augmented reality camera 3D view showing the solar path, its hour intervals, its winter and summer solstice paths, and rise and set times. Find the sun, even when it is hidden by clouds. For iPhone and iPad. ($4.99)
The Weather Channel®: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-weather-channel-for-ipad/id364252504?mt=8
The Weather Channel for iPad combines interactive imagery with weather report. Full screen, customizable weather maps. M Push alerts for severe weather in your selected location. For iPad only (Free)
Time Card 24 Converter http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/time-converter-24-free/id444154009?mt=8
A simple application to help convert clock times into decimal times. For example: 6:42pm to 18.7. This helps in filling out time cards. For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
To-Do-List: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/to-do-list/id293837047?mt=8
Keeps track of all your to-do lists. For iPhone and iPad. ($.99)
Toodledo: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/toodledo-to-do-list/id292755387?mt=8
Toodledo is a powerful task and note manager. It will help organize your to-do list and notes. For iPhone and iPad. ($2.99)
Voxer Walkie-Talkie PPT http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/voxer-walkie-talkie-ptt/id377304531?mt=8
This is a Walkie Talkie app for smartphones. Send instant audio, text, photo and location messages to your crew. Your crew can listen to your message if their app is turned on and they are on Wi-Fi otherwise it will save like a text message for you to hear later. For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
WiFi HD: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wifi-hd-free-wireless-hard/id311170976?mt=8
Turn your iPhone into a wireless, mobile external hard drive. Works over any WiFi connection. You can now share, copy, and backup your files to and from your PC or Mac. For iPhone and iPad. (Free)
WritePad: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/writepad/id293033512?mt=8
WritePad is a text editor that utilizes advanced handwriting recognition input for the English language as well as iPhone keyboard for text entry, and includes spell checker, context analyzer, and standard editing operations such as copy, cut, paste, etc. For iPhone and IPad. ($3.99)
WriteRoom: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/writeroom/id288751446?mt=8
This app allows you to write text files in focus. It uses Dropbox to keep your documents organized. Also has ability to use fonts & colors. For iPhone and iPad. ($4.99)

If you have a suggestion for an app that would be useful to production personnel, or any other feedback, Susan Zwerman will be updating this list regularly, in PDF form. For details, email her at: susanzwerman@gmail.com

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I got an iPad six months ago, and have spent the time since then exploring far too many apps for my own good, so I’ve decided that my iTunes Store meanderings should do some good for someone, if possible…

Over the next few months, therefore, I’m going to share some of the apps that I have deemed “keepers”, amidst the legion of apps that have sojourned briefly on my iPad, before being unceremoniously deleted for lack of perceived long term value. Unquestionably, many of these apps that today I praise will eventually be usurped by new and improved solutions. For now, though, these are the few apps that have survived my merciless judgment, by simple dint of the fact that they’re better than the rest:

In order to make this review somewhat digestible, I’m going to split the apps into 20 categories, and I warmly welcome your own feedback and input, should you know of any apps I’ve not covered, which you feel are superior.

  • Learn
  • Teach
  • Read
  • Play
  • Create
  • Watch
  • Travel
  • Notes
  • Share
  • Listen
  • Finance
  • Work
  • Research
  • Shop
  • Utilities
  • Photography
  • Communicate
  • News
  • Cook
  • Cure

Please note that in all but one or two cases, I am focusing on apps that are, or were at one time or another, free. With this in mind, let me start with the “Shopping” category:

SHOPPING

Yes, I downloaded the Catalogue app, for all of about 10 minutes. It seemed cool for about that long, before I realized I hate getting catalogues in the post, so why would I rejoice in a flashy digital version of the junk mail tomes? It was therefore the first app to “wiggle” its way out of my iLife. Other apps fared better, however.

AppStart, AppShopper, App Deals, AppPriceDrop

With 585,000 apps in the App Store (as of 03/07/2012), of which more than 150,000 are exclusively for the iPad, how does a new owner know what’s what? A good beginning would be to dive in to the very attractively designed AppStart interface, and learn a little about the device itself, how to maximize its functionality, and then which top apps merit installation as a good foundational collection. At this point, it would be useful to learn the “secret” many iPad users have learned too late: an enormous number of iPad and iPhone apps fluctuate in price on a frustratingly random basis. I rely on a trio of research and aggregation apps (AppShopper, App Deals, AppPriceDrop) to parse these fluctuations, and take best advantage of “sales”.

Flow

Amazon’s AR app takes impressive advantage of your iPhone or iPad camera, and lets you point your device at the everyday products around you to discover more about them, and how much they cost on the site that truly seems to have it all. Audio and video clips of some products are often offered, and the A9 technology makes the pan functionality effortless. I was at a friend’s house and browsed a book they had recommended to me, held my iPad infront of it, and in less than the time it took to say the title, I had added it to my Amazon wishlist. From a consumer perspective this is functional utility through technology innovation at its finest. From a sales perspective this is targeted “pull-push” marketing at its most impressive.

GrouponHD, LivingSocial, Spreebird

The ubiquitous deal companies have efficient mobile apps to accompany their desktop sites. I actually find the LivingSocial one to be a little better designed, but the Spreebird app (and site) allows me to donate 10% of the deal back to my daughter’s school, so the double whammy win is a good twist on a concept that is getting old in the eyes of many vendors out there.

Craigslist, eBay

If you use these sites on your PC or Mac, these apps are great add-ons, to help you track and manage your buying and selling.

Karma

My newest app crush is on Karma. The concept is deceptively simple: tap in to your social network to manage your gift giving schedule; respond to the growing demand for “in the moment” accessibility and ease of process; transfer the choice to the recipient, without diminishing the impact of the gesture. You have to try it out to “get it”, but (as the tagline suggest) “good things will follow”.

On the bubble…

ShopAdvisor, Coupons, RedLaser, ShopSavvy, Yowza!

I love the idea of Barcode scanning for price comparisons, and easy access to coupons in situ, but I’m afraid the value of these apps may be limited to the mobile phone form factor: the iPad and other tablets prove too bulky for the mobile scanning function, IMHO. That said, these 5 apps seem to be the best of the bunch, and I tested a bundle.

Do let me know if you’ve discovered iPad apps that have made your life as a consumer a little easier, or simply a little more fun!

Next time, I’ll be reviewing which Social apps I use on a regular basis.

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It’s been almost 2 months since I last posted anything here (I have no interest in blogging for the sake of blogging, and I’m sure you have no interest in reading self-important daily ruminations on the state of social media, society, or Steve Jobs (RIP)).

So, beginning today, I will be compiling – in keeping with my commitment to publish only when I have something worth publishing – recaps of a few of the various things I’ve discovered and shared during the previous month, be it via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, or whatever other social brand made sense in the moment. I won’t be recapping ALL my postings and discoveries (saints preserve us!), but only those that I think still merit review, one month later. As noted above, I’ll be calling this regular entry “In Case You Missed It…”, and I welcome any feedback or input, as always.  So, without further ado, here is the first installment of this regular publication for your enjoyment, information, education, and perhaps even inspiration! (this first posting will cover a little more than the past month, just to get us all caught up):

Fundraising in the New Economy

As many of my readers know, I have been dedicating a big chunk the past couple of years to supporting a small variety of Not-for-Profit Organizations, helping them to strengthen their brand and financial positions during this economic downturn. Many NPOs are still wasting a lot of time pursuing legacy funding channels that no longer deliver the returns they used to bring, at the cost of other revenue generation opportunities. Crowd-sourced and network funding channels abound now, including ProFounder, Kickstarter, Razoo and others. NPOs need to have a dedicated New Funding Director, well-versed in emerging channels (from text-based through Social, and beyond). In July, Mashable published an interesting article offering some tips for NPO mobile campaigning. It was a little simplistic, but a great way to help NPOs start thinking along the right lines.

21st Century Pop

Later that month, I came across a very compelling site called thesixtyone, where “new artists make music and listeners decide what’s good”. Why it took me so long to check this out, I’ll never know, but I’m glad to see it still going strong, and now there’s another offering, exclusively for the iPad, called Aweditorium, which is similar, yet just different enough to make it worth looking in to. While Spotify, Grooveshark, Pandora, Mog, and Last.fm are hands down the best purveyors of mainstream music over the Net, it’s great to see intuitive, crowdsourced music experience such as thesixtyone and Aweditorium. Kudos to Reid Hoffman and Joi Ito for supporting such truly grassroots musical adventures as thesixtyone, and I’m eager to see what sort of UX the iCloud offers, to mitigate the lousy experience that is currently iTunes.

Gee, Plus or Minus

Also in July, I began using Google+, and I must say I am still struggling to adopt it as a preferred social network. I can see some potential, but it is so specifically reliant on the input of users that one wonders whether “we” are enough to ensure ongoing and continually expanding usefulness, beyond the fraternity of early adopters. This network may end up becoming little more than a glorified techie BBS, which is not a bad thing, just not perhaps what everyone had initially expected or hoped for. I yearn to be proven wrong, though, and see this evolve into a deeply enriching experience for a vast cross section of society, sufficiently differentiated from Facebook that it moves beyond being an “either/or” proposition. Other niche social networks are growing strongly, meanwhile, including photography site 500px (an alternative the increasingly messy deviantart).

Incremental Change

I’ve been waging a more than 2-year battle to have a major residential street in Burbank calmed sufficiently to allow for bicycle lanes, a center turn lane, upgraded signalization, and safe pedestrian crossing experiences. Just a few weeks ago, with the help of many friends and professionals, the battle was won, and we now move on to the next street, in this war (at least, that’s what it often feels like!) to make urban living safer, more manageable, and more sustainable.  My efforts were quiet and diplomatic (for the most part!), compared to the impressive actions of people like Vilnius Mayor A.Zuokas and Ed Begley Jr. While we may not all have the discipline, vision, & commitment of Mr. Begley, wouldn’t it be nice if we each moved an inch further in the right direction? Standing still on the issue of sustainable living isn’t going to improve air quality, landfill overflows, urban heat island effect, & the host of other challenges bearing down on us. Whoever said “ignorance is bliss” was a fool (Hello, Thomas Gray). As for the tank stunt: Is it all staged? Perhaps. Does it momentarily fulfill the fondest wish of many a pedestrian, bus driver, and bicyclist around the world? Definitely. The streets of our urban areas are supposed to be for ALL forms of transportation, not just cars. Does your city have the legislative tank commanders necessary to ensure you are able to get around a cleaner city, however you wish, and safely? Think about it, and maybe one or two more of us can act upon it…

In the meantime, while we fight to make our cities more inclusive, many among us are worrying about how our privacy is becoming compromised online. Facebook is certainly not to blame, if you are stupid enough to post drunken/naked/awkward pictures of yourself on your profile, or otherwise upload sensitive data. That’s all on you, bubba! However, your phone number, real estate records, social content, name, age, and so much more are easy to find on the web, regardless of your Facebook activity, thanks to a host of sites you may never have heard of. Clearing the data can be a bit of a headache, but finding all those sites has recently become a whole lot easier: Unlistmy.info is a free service that helps you identify those sites and remove your personal data from their records.

Speaking of records, the results from the 2010 Census came online last month, and they’re interesting to wander around, during your coffee/tea break… (some intriguing questions arise, such as: if all designated races experienced population decline in Los Angeles County, how did the overall population in that California county INCREASE by nearly 300,000 people?). Explore the 2010 Census here (courtesy of CNN).

Keeping The Fire Alight

More recently, Lots of new techie toys have been coming out: iPhone 4S, Amazon Fire Tablet, Kindle Touch, Samsung Galaxy S2 for T-Mobile and others, a couple of new Android tablets, some more Windows phones…Despite high unemployment, and a gasping economy, our almost unconscious desire for the newest consumer tech bauble remains as healthy as ever. At some point we will suddenly wake up to the fact that all these devices are nothing more than toys or tools, and as such need to be either mightily entertaining or extremely useful…and, in both cases, firmly reliable.

Let that day come sooner, rather than later.

The speculation surrounding the Amazon tablet release was perhaps the most feverish, with claims being made that the “Fire” was a potential “iPad Killer”. Despite press reports supporting this dramatic contention, nothing could be further from the truth, IMHO. As I said in one of my Quora answers last month, the new device from Amazon certainly opens up the market, with a price point ($199) that will bring fiscal fence-sitters into the arena. However, the feature-set on the Kindle Fire make it more like a juiced-up iPod Touch than an iPad. The Kindle Fire has no camera, no microphone, and no 3G connectivity. That said, it has two things that the iPad does not have: Amazon Silk and a vast content library (remember, Apps are not content, per se, they are applications!). The iPad will continue (for now) to dominate the upper end of the tablet market, with its dominant app collection and solid device performance. Meanwhile, the Kindle Fire represents a price and feature challenge to the rest of the market (Android and Windows8, essentially). To go out on a limb, just for the heck of it, I’m going to predict that that Kindle Fire does very well in the short term, while the new Kindle e-readers do astonishingly well, once they come out in November. Amazon may well take 2nd place in tablet market share, but not for long, as I have to believe the release of Microsoft’s Windows 8 tablet OS will force the Android Tablets and applications communities to mature at an accelerated pace. Amazon will take 1st place in mobile content delivery, and will keep it, so long as they maintain focus on their existing core capabilities.

I don’t think Mr. Jeff Bezos and Co. are looking to secure early advantage in the tablet race. Their objective is loftier. Amazon is in the multiplatform content delivery market for the long haul, as evidenced by their Kindle ecosystem. While the HTCs, Dells, Samsungs, RIMs, and Motorolas of the world (sorry, HP, but a jailbroken tablet can no longer be considered viable competition) fight it out in their respectively scrappy fashions, Amazon would do well to stick to its proven methodologies: manage and enhance a world-leading library of diverse content; produce competitively priced, robust, yet simple-featured devices; tying it all together with a superior (if still prone to outage) cloud infrastructure,

Market analysts have claimed that everyone who was going to buy a Kindle has already bought one, but the new touchscreen functionality and very affordable price point now position the Kindle e-reader as the only game worth playing in town. The Nook is in serious trouble (trapped between the Kindle Touch and Fire, yet costing almost as much as both combined). Watch for massive sales of this new line of Kindle e-readers, assuming the interface is solid, and the Whispernet deal (free wireless content delivery) stays equally secure.

The Kindle Fire represents a widening of the market for tablet users, not so much a direct challenge to the iPad (although it may convince Apple to lower the price on their current model, and keep it on the market when the next iPad iteration comes out, all depending on whether there is sufficient differentiation between their current model and the next release. Most signs point to this not being the case).

The new line of Kindle e-readers positions Amazon to garner such a massive and insurmountable lead over all other book distributors, digital or otherwise, that the Big 5 publishers are going to have to come back to the table soon, with their tails between their legs. Although Apple’s iBook may have better UI, the Kindle App gives readers a degree of mobility and flexibility that is unmatched.

Amazon is pursuing software and hardware innovations in full support of their core competencies, and the company will prosper mightily as a result. If AWS can reduce outages, and their Cloud infrastructure is able to handle the load that might come to bear when 50 million (or more) tablets and e-readers and other devices call for content at the same time, then Amazon will be the new leading entertainment studio of the 21st century: in charge and in control of distribution more content to more people, in more places, on more devices, than any other entity.

That brings me to the end of September, and I haven’t even mentioned my Twitter postings (tweets). So I’ll just post a few from the beginning of July below, to give you a taste of what you can usually find there! In the meantime, I look forward to next month’s recap and, if you prefer to connect in a more timely fashion, I encourage you to follow my regular (almost daily) tweets on Twitter, and/or my weekly short posts on Facebook.

A few Twitter tweets of note for early July:

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Just a short post to celebrate the fact that, after many moons of what I have referred to as “silly apps” (those fun, but ultimately useless casual game apps that have been deluging social media and mobile platforms) there have recently been (or soon will be) some heartening launches in Utility Apps, a few of which I wanted to share with you (already launched apps such as Gwabbit and Shazam have got their fair share of coverage, thus their absence from this list):

EvernoteI’m still working out whether I need more than Workflowy, but for those who require a truly cross-platform and comprehensive digital “string tied to your finger”, this is the current leader of the pack (or should that be herd?)

ScoutMobThink Foursquare turned back to front. I think this has a better chance of being what Geodelic (see below) seeks to be, and what the great Facebook page, Hidden Los Angeles, manages to achieve manually through the hard work of its editor, Lynn Garrett.

UMEEHas the truly Universal Remote finally been developed, without any Hardware offering? This app, described by its developer as “…more than just device control, UMEE gives you easy setup, an interactive program guide, social networking with check-in and sharing, and the ability to walk from room to room and control all your media devices with just a simple tap on the screen.”

ShopSavvy – Live, on-the-go price comparisons via barcode scanning.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary AppTake the mega heavy Collegiate Dictionary, with nearly a quarter of a million definitions, and squeeze it fluidly into an app for nearly every mobile platform. Gotta love it!

Word LensA very exciting new utility app for travelers! Translates signs and other printed text live (currently offering only Spanish to English, and vice versa, but the potential is thrilling)

On the cusp

Drive Me CrazyThe idea is compelling, but the execution could go either way. I think the next iteration of this app will either secure its fortune or seal its doom, depending on how it addresses the safety and “truth in reporting” questions many are asking. However, that said, I must reiterate that the vision that sits behind this idea is certainly welcome, and the team behind its development is a talented and experienced gang!

GeodelicTo be able to find the best restaurants, drycleaners, ATM, et al, relative to your specific location at any time, is a great concept. This app promises that, but its record on delivery of that promise is currently mixed.

I disagree with the contention that social media is “…just a plural term for any online vehicle that allows for, and encourages, interaction” (see one of my previous postings on Social media for details).  Additionally, I predict that business websites will soon be far less crucial to a brand’s marketing strategy and market engagement than one might think (but more on that in a later post).

For the rest, I found Brazilian social media marketing strategist Gina Gotthilf’s recent article very helpful on several points that might prove of particular value to B2C businesses (B2Bers can still glean some useful tidbits, but the article is primarily speaking to e-commerce and e-consumer engagement). Ms. Gotthilf kindly agreed to have what I consider the most salient points excerpted here below, and I believe you’ll find some good tips on improving digital marketing tactics and optimizing your connection to your online audience/prospects:

When incorporating social media into a marketing strategy, most companies focus on Facebook and Twitter. Those who hire social media strategists also venture into niche platforms and new technologies, racing to stay ahead of the competition.

Yet what is often forgotten is that social media does not necessarily entail a dedicated platform – it is just a plural term for any online vehicle that allows for, and encourages, interaction. Hence, one of the most important steps in making your brand social is incorporating social elements into your company website.

Here are the top 6 questions to ask in determining if your website welcomes interaction.

1) Is your content shareable?

This may seem obvious but is more than often overlooked. Sure, readers can always copy a URL they find interesting and manually paste it into an e-mail to share with friends, or into Facebook to share with their network… but they more often than not WON’T. The rule of thumb is, and will always be: your community is lazy, no matter how much they love you. Use ShareThis to facilitate and encourage sharing by making (at least the most basic) buttons available by any post, photo or item on there. But don’t make EVERY button on the face of the internet available – your readers are too lazy to look through them and easily confused. But remember – just because you put a button there doesn’t mean people will click. Shareable content needs to be unusual, interesting, humorous or controversial. Keep this in mind when planning content and layout.

2) Can readers affect the content of your website?

Of course your professional website isn’t a wiki – open for endless edits by well-humored kids located in some non-English speaking country. Yet readers like feeling as though you’re listening enough to incorporate some of their thoughts and opinions. If you publish written content, perhaps offer the possibility of suggesting topics. If you publish visual content, give your readers the ability to submit their own for photos and video for display in a designated UGC (user generated content) area of your site. If you sell products, consider letting users vote on what models and colors they’d like to see made available for purchase or suggest changes to existing items.

3) Can your audience submit public comments or reviews?

Sure, your own description of your product may be accurate and what you sell or write may actually be life-changing. But readers want to hear that from other readers. Comments and reviews make your site look honest, transparent, and not afraid of public opinion. Of course, as with any other social media platform, monitoring is necessary to ensure that comments and reviews are appropriate, non-offensive and properly responded to if necessary.

4) Is your content dynamic?

Static websites are the equivalent of stores that never change their collections (I don’t know of any in real life, other than antique stores). Keeping your content new and fresh will encourage your readers to visit on a regular basis – to read new articles, check out new products or admire new images. Readers will most often share content from websites they are familiar with as a credible source of information – they don’t want to look foolish. Moreover, new content means new things to share… and more visitors entails more members for your new thriving community!

5) Does your homepage offer a relevant social experience?

When a reader is perusing your content… is he/she hanging out alone or with others? In other words, are there indications that other people are there too at that particular time or that their friends have been there before? Facebook Connect offers an easy solution to bringing people’s networks into your site without altering content and letting your readers find out what articles or products their friends have personally endorsed. Making buzz public (such as number of current visitors or total pageviews) and adding chat plug-ins are also easy, effective upgrades.

6) Is your site optimized for mobile platforms?

It’s no news – people are constantly browsing the web and looking for relevant information on -the-go. Browsing the web on your computer is so last year! Whether they own a Blackberry, iPhone or iPad, your audience will want to check up on sales when they’re close to stores, see if you sell something they need, or want to reference your content when it’s most relevant to them geographically. Make sure to create a mobile version of your website or ensure that your existing website functions properly on multiple mobile devices. Additionally, consider creating a relevant branded application and maintaining up-to-date on Facebook’s Open Graph mobile features.

Gina Gotthilf is a Social Media Strategist with several years of experience in developing, managing and analyzing social media marketing campaigns for luxury fashion brands. She loves observing and predicting behavioral and market trends online. 

Now that everyone who couldn’t bear to wait is feverishly pawing their new iPad (or not), I want to take a few moments to explore the possibility of alternatives.

I’ve admired Apple for the longest time, largely for its design and brand marketing savvy. The company’s innovative techniques have forced the hardware and software industries alike to eschew complacency, at the risk of alienating a very demanding consumer-base. However, I believe that the iPad, while it will certainly not damage Apple’s bottom line (Apple  apparently sold more iPad units on its opening day than it sold iPhone units back in June 2007, when that device was launched*), may well contribute to some overdue redress of the perception of the brand, versus the reality of its product line value.

There’s no denying that Apple has made some innovative products, and its oligarchy has ensured that attention to detail and robust design standards have remained mainstays in the development of all hardware and software offerings. However, the company’s commitment to closed systems, proprietary elements, and “walled garden” disdain for open standards has served to goad competitors into an increasing frenzy of responsive innovation. The result has been that the gap between Apple innovation and mainstream industrial emulation has narrowed sufficiently these past few years, so as to position several competing brands almost neck and neck with Apple on this, their latest release.

Blackberry, HTC, Motorola, Palm, and Google have all come out with multitouch interfaces for their handheld devices, in the wake of the iPhone. While few of these brands offer a truly competitive alternative to the Apple iPhone OS, with respect to UI and application experience, this gap may no longer exist with the Tablet. Here below are a few possible competitors to the early bird iPad:

WePad

Neofonie’s 11.6” display has much going for it, and is *apparently* going to hit the European market in less than a week. however, the absence of any video footage of note makes one pause…Here are some pictures, at least:

 

Lenovo IdeaPad U1

For those who can’t decide between a netbook and a tablet…there’s an app a device for that:

HP Slate

Competitively priced, and with some of the features that lots of people are moaning are lacking in the iPad:

Microsoft Courier

If Ballmer is able to deliver on the promise held within these demos, things could get really exciting:

Dell Mini 5

Multitasking, small form factor, data AND phone AND camera…:

Dell Mini 5 walk thru

ExoPC Slate

They call this a “finger driven PC”, and it certainly has some interesting specs:

ICD Tablets

Innovative Converged Devices has created a full size (called the VEGA), and a mini tablet (the ULTRA), depending on your carrier preference (the VEGA will be sold via T-Mobile, while the Ultra will go to Verizon). The full size gets my motor running more so than the mini, but the mini is certainly worth a look, if portability is one of your top priorities:

Notion Ink Adam

Saving the best for last, Notion Ink has managed to accomplish what I have been dreaming was possible: to marry the text reading superiority of the Kindle (e-ink), the user flexibility of the iPad, and the multitasking capability of some of the the other tablets mentioned above:

So where does this leave Netbooks? Given that companies like MSI, best known as netbook manufacturers, are set to launch their own tablet devices later this year, I predict that with the rise of tablets, we will see a relative decline in netbook sales. It won’t happen overnight, and devices such as Lenovo’s IdeaPad will certainly cater to those of us who want a little bit from both worlds, but as Android and other mobile OS technologies evolve, and multi-touch and resistive interface technology refine themselves, I think netbooks and laptops will be left with greatly reduced market share.

Yet, just when we think that there are enough worthy alternatives out there to permit ourselves the luxury of making a choice, along comes Google (again!) to suggest they may be releasing their own Chrome OS-based tablet

I guess it’s like car-shopping these days: if you need one, get one. If you don’t need one, wait a bit.  Everything seems to change dramatically on a weekly basis, so whatever you buy this week will be trumped in no time. The firm of Amdahl, Nielsen and Moore is hard at work…

Web Marketing strategist Elyssa Pallai shares her “Top 4” projections here for web marketing in 2010:

The days of SEO as the primary traffic driver to your website are over. Don’t get us wrong, organic search engine optimization isn’t about to disappear as a key traffic driver. And thankfully, Google AdWords is still going strong. However, recent technology trends enable a brave new world of marketing. Ignore them at your peril.

Take real-time, for instance. The next generation of search, aggregation, notification and findability services are being developed using real-time technologies that enable users and machines to receive real-time updates. In a recent post, Robert Scoble said he would be better off curating news than actually attending the Apple launch! What? If you aren’t thinking about how real time, along with social networks, mobile and location-based services fits in your marketing plan, you’re missing an opportunity.

Google’s Great, But Facebook Rocks

In a recent post, ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick asked “Why is Google afraid of Facebook?” The answer is because social networking sites have become a key link in the search and information sharing value chain. You would have to be hiding out in a dark hole not to understand social media and the effect it has had on marketing the past couple of years – but surpass search? Oh, right, now I get it: These sites are an important information source for everyone. Importantly, friends’ recommendations are key.

Mobile is Better

Google’s VP of product development recently stated that, “with all the capabilities these phones that are coming out have – like GPS, cameras – we think there is the potential to actually make this mobile Web better than the PC Web.” That is a profound statement for marketing managers. A mobile phone experience better than the web? If you haven’t bought yourself a smart phone like iPhone or Android, we suggest you go out and grab one. Mobile applications are proliferating like rabbits. What would be better than to be first to market and offer your customers an exceptional product experience while on the go.

Perfect product placement

Location-based services mean the ability to market right outside your front door is happening now. Frederic Lardinois reported in June 2009 that 1 in 3 smart phone owners use location based services. Take this simple example. You’re in Vail, you just finished 8 hours on the mountain and now you’re looking for the perfect apres ski location. You’re walking down the Mall, you take your iPhone out of your pocket and ta-da! Buy one-get-one-free margaritas at Las Margaritas. You’re standing right outside. Perfect product placement. And now you can talk about the restaurant and broadcast it immediately to all your friends.

If you aren’t listening to the conversation, you better start. There are numerous listening applications available to get you started in your pursuit to join the conversation and get a handle on positive as well as negative feedback on your product or brand. A simple saved search in Twitter can go along way.

All these trends have a profound impact on how we market to our website guests at ReadWriteWeb. Not only do we have to understand search engine optimization, but the opportunities offered by social media marketing, the new capabilities and possibilities offered by mobile, geolocation, augmented reality and real-time notification and information sharing. One seems to becoming just as important as the next.

If you don’t understand these technology trends as a marketer, you better get out while the getting is good. Enabled by technology, 2010 is already a watershed year for new ways to reach your customers.

Elyssa Pallai is the Marketing and Experience Manager at ReadWriteWeb. Elyssa has been working on the web since 1997 in the USA, UK and New Zealand.

(Updated content post-unveil, at bottom)

Just a few hours before the Big Unveil, and I wonder whether Steve Jobs may not be revealing 2 big deals: The iSlate (as I think it should be called) is certainly newsworthy, although I don’t think (or – at least – I don’t hope) it will be the Kindle-killer so many are predicting. It’s probably going to be as different from the Kindle as a Victorinox SwissChamp is from a finely crafted Henckel. It’ll do a lot more, but what the Kindle does, it does so well…That said, I think that the probability of an iTunes store for e-books and e-Mags, with a plethora of already forged publishing house and media organization deals struck, would be a massive piece of news indeed!

As far as the tablet itself, I think the folks at Doghouse Diaries have a pretty good handle on things:

UPDATE (11:00am, Wednesday, January 27):

OK, so I was right, and I was wrong. He’s calling it the iPad (which sounds like a women’s personal health product to me). No big surprises as of yet, but the anticipatory coverage of this product was so intense that it was nigh impossible to present a piece of information that had not been discussed exhaustively by one camp or another. This is certainly an impressive product, however.

I suggest that, instead of being an e-reader killer, it is a Netbook killer. Netbooks have always been essentially little more than shrunken laptops, with reduced functionality to boot! Here’s something that does all that and more. The battery life is impressive (10 hours), but nowhere near the weeks of battery life offered by the Kindle. The functionality blows the Kindle out of the water, but then why buy the Henckel knife in the first place, when you are looking for a multifunction Victorinox?

As I predicted, the introduction of the iBooks store is compelling, and THAT’S where the fire is being lit under the Kindle a***. Bookshelves, categories, ePub, oh my!

I don’t think the “page turning” experience was terribly innovative. I agree with Bezos’ assertion that it is a cop-out to try and replicate the “real book” experience on an e-reader. It is simply a different way of navigating the content, but the essential immersive reading experience is the same (if not better) on a successful e-reading device.

the iWork demo confirms that this device may truly replace laptops for some people, but I don’t think it will be a “laptop killer”. Apple has positioned it well in the “larger than we might have imagined” gap between the mobile phone and laptop.

For $700-900 (including tax and 3G coverage), this is going to appeal to a diversified cross-section of consumers, but none of them are going to be schoolkids and college students in lower income households (a $300 Kindle DX, with ebooks at less than half the price of “real” books, is a much more viable financial proposition, but still a challenge. Will Amazon move on this, or will they fumble?). This is not the device for people who are looking for an alternative to books. This is the device for people who are looking to own and experience the evolution of the mobile technological consumer gaming/communication/application device, to hold and cherish the love child of the laptop and smart mobile device (although, with no telephonic capability of note, it’s not truly the confluence point between laptops and smartphones, and that may be a good thing).

The Apple iPad is an impressive (though not as miraculous or magical as some might have wished) advance in computing and mobile technology. It is a thrilling “next step”, but not quite a “leap”. Unless Amazon mishandles this stage of their Kindle development and market penetration, this should certainly not pose a substantial threat to their goals.

That said, Amazon has goofed up a few times already: first with the “1984” mess, then with the “let’s insult existing Kindle customers by offering them for free to people who have expressed zero interest in them” fiasco, and of course we must not forget all the complaints about the Amazon cover and customer service failures. Amazon has an opening to become the next “Apple”, oddly enough. They have a devoted (but recently abused) fan base. They introduced a new concept in content experience. The Kindle has been birthed at a moment in history when social media and crowdsourcing are growing exponentially. With strong marketing leadership ( I do NOT mean conventional product marketing, but rather cross-functional product/strategic/brand marketing that SHOULD be the purview of all senior marketing leaders), Amazon could retain and enhance its innovator position, all the while recognizing and addressing the fact that it’s no longer enough to appeal to a small tribe of early adopters…

I believe that Amazon and Apple are both sitting in their own respective sweet spots of opportunity, and it remains to be seen which, if either, will successfully manipulate and manage the next few months…

Following on from my assertion earlier this month that e-reading will become ubiquitous, and for the better, I offer this video excerpt as clear supporting evidence of the attractive potential that is currently crossing the threshold of traditional print publication houses (fiction, news, or otherwise).

In 4 days, it is rumored that Apple will reveal their hand in this market sector – a move which would do much to erase, once and for all, any doubt that eBooks are to print media what mobile devices have been to the landline. How swiftly and enthusiastically publishers and, perhaps more crucially, readers react to these still emerging opportunities will determine more than just the rate of development of the hardware and software surrounding these devices and platforms. It will heavily influence a diverse array of communities: from the literary to the artistic; from advertisers to consumer product marketing agencies; from students and teachers to parents and pundits.

Presently, the cost of an e-book device is still too high for the average citizen, until you calculate the ROI. Consumers were willing to pay $600 for the iPhone, when it was released. The current iteration – considerably improved from the iPhone model of less than 2 years ago – is only $99. Meanwhile, over 3 BILLION iPhone apps have been downloaded, and the device has revolutionized the mobile device industry, as well as consumer behavior habits. Apple has recouped its investment handsomely, and the smartphone (in its many incarnations) is now almost a necessity to a whole generation of users across the world (indeed, in the developing nations it has transformed lives).

Currently, e-book devices cost far less than the early iPhone, and there is no doubt that the price will drop further. Add to this the dramatically lower cost to publish digitally, as well as the positive Green considerations (no ink, no paper, no hard distribution costs, etc), and the value proposition to the purveyor (technology hardware provider, service provider, publisher, writer, et al) is clear. Meanwhile, assuming (perhaps somewhat naively?) that publishers will soon lower the price for eBooks and eMags, in order to make them more digestible to mass market consumers, the value to the reader will be explosive.

As readership grows, so new demographics evolve. As eyeballs become identified, qualified, and quantified, so advertisers begin to salivate. From a commercial perspective, the bonus of e-readership is that metrics are more controllable, and thus businesses are able to connect with and – more importantly – STAY CONNECTED TO the interested consumer. This is where the fun starts:

Today’s magazine advertiser has no way of accurately qualifying the value of their placement, and magazines have to publish thick volumes (see Vanity Fair) just to stay afloat. These tomes are 70% advertising, and 30% editorial, at best. Readers have become inured to this dynamic, and breeze past the mag ads in much the same way as they zip past TV commercials, thanks to the DVR. Now, imagine if – thanks to the eMag – an ad was clickable, promising instant conversion. Imagine if, thanks to the eMag, a product offering could be placed strategically in relation to an article, enhancing the value of that product offering in the mind of the reader, by association (a new type of product placement). The discreet advertising opportunities are vast, and promise untold opportunities to magazine publishers and product manufacturers, and the agencies that creatively connect the two worlds. Then again, if the reader prefers an ad-free experience, why not grant it to them, at a premium? Those publications with higher ad-free readerships can offer lower ad rates, and vice versa. All very measurable, to everyone’s satisfaction.

In the e-Lit universe (the environment wherein electronic literature is ubiquitous), publishers can release a new book and have it in the hands of pre-identified “interested” readers within seconds. The temporal investment required, from a marketing perspective, is greatly reduced; freeing publishers to take more creative risks which will inevitably produce surprisingly powerful “accidents” of literary genius. The greatest works of historical fiction were rarely foreseen as commercially viable products. This emerging dynamic will allow a lot of literature to become a user-driven proposition, virally marketed by the readers themselves. It won’t exclude traditionally vetted works of literature, which can continue to receive the type of robust “upfront” marketing support that publishing houses often manifest. Nor will it erode the support for “hidden gems” of challenging yet worthy literature, which might otherwise not be deemed viable by the publishers, nor initially digestible by the public. Statistics are showing that the field of literary criticism is already evolving to function less as a pre-release prognosticator, but as a post-release adjudicator, still very capable of identifying and championing tomorrow’s Ezra Pound or Thomas Pynchon. e-Literature widens the field of offerings. It does not pretend to, nor can it, expand the readership, in and of itself. It does, however, create a new landscape onto which a wider and more diverse readership now has the opportunity to travel. To those who claim this might dilute the quality of literature, I counter that dilution is only experienced and identified upon imbibing. Consider the following scenario:

10 bottles of wine are put on a table. 2 bottles are of the highest quality ($10 per glass), 2 are of strong  but slightly lesser quality ($6), 2 are of middling quality but eminently drinkable ($5), 2 are of poor quality ($2), and 2 are of varied quality but watered down ($3).

A group of wine aficionados is invited into the room, and each given a $10 bill. They are given a quick taste of each wine, and then asked to “spend the money”. How they choose to “invest” their funds, and subsequently advance their experience of wine, is – in my opinion – a worthwhile allegory for the opportunity facing the reading public. The e-Lit universe will expand the selection of available content, and the quality spectrum will widen and deepen, by extension. The more extensive and more diversified availability of phraseological grapes promises a richer and more rewarding vendange.

I could write a book on the multifarious revenue generation opportunities available via e-publication, but this article must remain within the 1,000-word realm. I look forward eagerly to the imminent delivery of my Kindle DX (delayed due to demand, apparently), fully accepting the likelihood that upon delivery I will be in possession of an already usurped iteration. But if I were to think that way, how sorrowful would be my lot. Imagine living in the latter 16th century and, purely based upon your suspicion that “better plays may come out soon”, you turned down tickets to Titus Andronicus (which, by all accounts, received “mixed reviews” back in the early 1590s). Sure, you might be around when Winter’s Tale came out, and you might get tickets, and from the selective logic point of view, you will have arguably made a better investment. However, what if the tickets you were first offered were to Thomas Kyd’s first play, “The Spanish Tragedy”, and you declined on the same principle. What was then seen, and is argued by many today, as “arguably the most popular play of the “Age of Shakespeare” and set new standards in effective plot construction and character development”*, was Kyd’s greatest work. It was all downhill from there.

I intend to enjoy my Kindle, and upon it I shall read with pleasure many plays, books, articles, magazines, newspapers, and more. When something indubitably superior comes out (and when I have a salary that will permit me the indulgence!), I will replace my lovingly used Kindle with whatever relatively new-fangled gewgaw convinces me of its unquestionable worth.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKrhokUqKPE]

For two days this week, the world-famous Mann Chinese Theatre in Hollywood will be hosting AFI DIGIFEST, a veritable smorsgabord of new media and cross-platform experiments and productions in storytelling and audience engagement. You might still be able to snag a seat at this great peek in to the near future of content creation and interactive entertainment (see link at bottom of this post).

I’ve been supporting the AFI’s Digital Content Lab for the past 10 or so years, and for good reason: This is where Apple’s Quicktime technology was launched, and the Lab was winner of last year’s technical achievement award at the Machinima festival, responsible for the deployment of such groundbreaking tech as the mobile interactive apps for WARPED, the Planet Illogica digital artist support network, and the development of the Federally supported ITVS initiative (funding a wide swath of indie films), among others.

Right now, the Lab is working on a variety of very interesting projects with groups including The Leonardo diCaprio Foundation, DavidLynch.com, and the whole team that created “Africa Diary” (led by LM Kit Carson). These projects, and more, will be showcased at this year’s DigiFest.

Some highlights to be seen at DigiFest 2009:

  • a social network and proposed marketing plan for INTERVIEW PROJECT PRESENTED BY DAVIDLYNCH.COM;
  • a proposed online strategy for engaging youth in a series of relevant environmental action challenges for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation;
  • a mobile application that provide an interactive past-to-future timeline for an innovative ITVS cross-platform micro-series;
  • an interactive mentoring environment for One Economy that encourages students from low-income families to learn more about science as a career;
  • a MOBILE STORY MAKER session with longtime filmmaker L.M. Kit Carson, who shot the deeply moving micro-series AFRICA DIARY using a Nokia mobile phone as camera. The series will soon air on the Sundance Channel.
  • 2012, dramatic visual effects demonstrated by Digital Domain;
  • DISTRICT 9, a behind-the scenes look at games and an augmented reality application created by production house Trigger;
  • LIVE MUSIC, a 3D animation pieced together from contributions by thousands of animators from around the world, masterminded by Mass Animation’s Yair Landau, former vice-chair of Sony Pictures;
  • URBAN WOLF, a surveillance camera-based micro-series drama by Parisian director Laurent Touil Tartour;
  • ESCAPE FROM CITY 17, an adept meld of machinima and live action created by the multi-talented Purchase Brothers for less than $500;
  • MANOBI, an innovative mobile phone application that has helped raise the standard of living for Senegalese farmers and fishermen;
  • FIRST THINGS LAST, a dynamic and visual storytelling application for the iPhone created by ScrollMotion;
  • NAKED SKY ENTERTAINMENT, a surprising look at what our collective augmented reality future may look like a year from now;
  • THE CORNER: 23RD AND UNION, an evocative sound, image, phone, web, and public installation created as part of Maker’s Quest;
  • ROUTES, a documentary, narrative thriller, and game about genetics for Britain’s Channel 4 that attracted more than 2 million gameplays;
  • MR. HULOT’S HOLIDAY, a restoration of Jacques Tati’s 1953 whimsical tale presented by my old company Thomson.

Here is the link to register, but hurry, as space is limited.

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