Amazon Reader: Kindle

Kindle_three_quarter_view I never was interested in an electronic reader, but the new Amazon (AMZN) gadget looks quite intriguing: Amazon Kindle "Reader"

This thingie does have some attractive features: The ability to wirelessly grab books anywhere you are is way cool.

But this is more than an eBook: It is a wireless device, grabing RSS feeds of blogs, newspaper and magazines. And, unlike Apple’s iTunes, you own the books you buy, and if the device is lost or broken, you can re-download all of your Amazon purchases — at no charge. (Apple’s failure to do that is an inexcusable failing, and one of the reasons I hardly buy songs from ITMS).

Can Amazon generate the sort of frenzy reserved for Apple products? Perhaps — earlier to today, Amazon as saying the Kindle was sold out. However, there are very few companies — Apple, Harley Davidson (HDI), Tivo — which have that sort of appeal or can generate that customer loyalty of that sort. I like Amazon, but its doubtful they will ever be in the rabid loyalty group.

Maybe they should tear a page from the Apple playbook — after Christmas, slash the
price 50% or more.

Why? At $150-200, this becomes a more compelling
product. Amazon tells me that since the retail price also includes
the wireless connectivity, this is already a $150 machine with $10 per month service for 2 years included. But would anyone really pay a $10/mo
for the privilege of wirelessly purchasing books?

Some of the initial reviews of the doohickey were pretty good — endorsements include Michael Lewis and Guy Kawasaki (below), and the NYT’s David Pogue.

Criticisms: Version 1.0 has some obvious shortcomings: A few good observations (and one lousy one) via Scoble:

1. No ability to buy paper goods from Amazon through Kindle.
2. Usability sucks. Didn’t they think how people would hold this?
3. UI sucks. Menus? Did they hire someone from Microsoft?
4. No ability to send electronic goods to anyone else.
5. No social network. Why can’t my friends see what I’m reading?
6. No touch screen.

The buying of regular Amazon products and send ebooks or other gifts are good suggestions. Social networking ("What I am reading") can easily be adapted to a widget.

In most software products (and this is an embedded piece of software), by version 2.0, the UI gets improved. Perhaps, the build quality/materials will get upgraded. Note that very few devices start out perfect, and even TiVo and the iPod got better over time.

Scoble’s all wrong on the touchscreen: You don’t really want to smudge the screen you are reading (Besides, I don’t believe electronic ink works with touchscreen — yet).

I would think that after working at Microsoft, Scoble would (heh-heh) know better than to buy 1.0 of anything.


Lets me make a suggestion to help Amazon out:

If Jeff Bezos wants to make the Amazon Kindle "Reader" a breakout iPod-like product, he has an easy solution: Get the price under $200, charge $5-10 per month for the service, and include 2 free books per month at that price. I would also think pre-loading the gadget with a few gratis books was an automatic. Home run!

I am not the road warrior I once was, but if I were, I would definitely have one of these . . .


Michael Lewis


Guy Kawasaki


Scoble Criticism:

General Overview:


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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Troy commented on Nov 26

    I’ve purchased around 70 DRMd songs from the iTMS, and I don’t see why I don’t still “own” them.

    These AAC files fit on 1 CDR (cost: 30c), plus I back them up other ways too. I will have full access to them as long as Apple remains a going concern (if Apple *does* go under I’ll have a lot more sunk costs lost than a piddly $70 in music purchases!).

    Kindle is great for its intelligent use of the EVDO network and is certainly a portent of Negroponte’s digital future dream but IMV it’s filling a much-needed gap in the device landscape. . .

  2. Gina commented on Nov 26

    And Apple in fact does let you re-download your entire iTunes library in case something happens to your machine (that service is not advertised though– you have to call the customer service and request it.)Of course, this only applies only to the tracks purchased through iTunes store, not anything you downloaded elsewhere from the net.

  3. muckdog commented on Nov 26

    I saw this on Amazon today and thought the price point was a bit too high to get me to try it on a whim.

    Price comes down, and I’ll try it…

  4. AlladinsLamp commented on Nov 26

    With all the buttons, I thought it was a label maker.

    Seriously, it looks like the thingy the UPS Guy uses.

  5. Garuda commented on Nov 26

    I am sick of gadgets and a gadget culture and will buy no more of them.

  6. Bob A commented on Nov 26

    Well, if it were a color linux wifi multipurpose touchscreen the same size for $400… sure thing. And it would also play music, video, run open office and access Big Picture. Great idea.

    But a single purpose, ugly, b&w proprietary soon to be headed for the landfill toy…Sorry but no.

    But it is a great example of how you generate millions in free advertizing for your new gadget. Just limit initial supplies so you can claim it’s ‘sold out’ and then spread it around to the media. Don’t they teach that at Wharton?

    Remember when Bezos told us that silly stand up scooter (anybody even remember the name?) thingy was gonna change the world. Well…

    Oh and by the way. Another Bezos boondogle in the works as we speak. Home Grocer style grocery delivery trial underway right now in Seattle area. Shiny new trucks wasting fuel all over town. Bad idea in the 90’s, worse idea today.

  7. John from Taos commented on Nov 26

    I don’t give a rat’s ass for this thing. It will NOT sell big, will NOT change a damned thing, and WILL end up in the landfill. Especially considering that the world economy is tanking, this item is a joke.

    It’s very simple: I don’t want to read a frigging book on this stupid machine. Books are way more than mere words on a screen: typography, layout, pictures, cover, etc. etc.

    Bottom line: no more gadgets! I am not a marketing statistic. I am a human being, and I’m now totally off the consumer reservation.

  8. Darin commented on Nov 26

    No inherent .doc, .pdf, or .rtf = no way. Can we get a reader that actually reads something besides proprietary stuff. If you want to convert your library into their library, no problem, but good luck figuring out if Q15132.wz or Q13152.wz is your file of interest. So close and yet not above the necessary threshold of purchase. An iPod can play Audible books albeit expensive, but there are very few problems.

    Anywhere download… c’mon, although downloading anything you want anywhere you want is “so Web 2.0”, the actual execution is buy stuff from us anywhere. Sure it can read rss, but like Bob A said, I want something more for $400.

    Apple made a deal with the studios and DRM and iTunes to sell more electronics. Amazon made an electronics tool to sell more eBooks. This is synonymous with the record labels coming out with an mp3 player.

    Long story short, I agree on waiting till version 2.0

  9. pmorrisonfl commented on Nov 26

    He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but Mark Pilgrim is a brilliant technology guy who’s a contrarian on the Kindle. He posted ‘The Future of Reading (A Play in Six Acts)’, of which I’ll excerpt one act here:

    Act V: The act of remembering

    Another possible change: with connected books, the tether between the author and the book is still active after purchase. Errata can be corrected instantly. Updates, no problem.

    – Newsweek, The Future of Reading

    Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.

    – George Orwell, “1984″, Book One, Chapter 3

    Link to post:

  10. KirkH commented on Nov 26

    Oooo, it’ll fit nicely in the basket on front of my revolutionary Segway personal transportation system.

  11. JuanBobsDad commented on Nov 27

    I’m an old fart from the can-only-read-paper group, but I’ve learned to love reading ebooks. I’ve got a cell-phone/PDA that is loaded up with about 30 ebooks on MS Reader. The convenience of carrying one thing is hard to beat. To me Kindle is a nice idea, but it is too big and is a do-one-thing-only-device. Further, because of Kindle, Amazon dried up as a good source of ebooks in common formats about a year ago.

  12. Onlooker commented on Nov 27

    Too big and funky looking.
    I don’t think the world is ready for an ebook reader yet.

    Also, this post reads like a commercial.

  13. Barry Ritholtz commented on Nov 27

    Its a review

    Most commercials don’t criticize the product, advise people not to buy version 1.0, nor complain its is 200% overpriced.

    Other than that . . .

  14. michael schumacher commented on Nov 27

    anything that Scoble does’nt like…..I like…

    That’s hard to like at that price point though. Cut it in half (price wise) and you might get traction. Otherwise it will be yet another Newton.


  15. alon commented on Nov 27

    other idea – Why not get an XO laptop (donate one to child somewhere) to use that as reader. Its not quite there yet but i think will make a great ebook device. Has surfing and other uses as well – low power – durable. Just a thought.

  16. DB commented on Nov 27

    Maybe V2.0 will come with a direct-to-brain port, so you can skip that clunky eyeball/e-paper interface.

  17. Greg0658 commented on Nov 28

    direct port to brain:
    lol yuk :-) maybe someday

  18. kl commented on Nov 29

    “Bottom line: no more gadgets!”

    How did you post this comment? Did you write it with a quill pen on a piece of parchment and send it via Pony Express, or would that be too high-tech?

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