Monday, November 19, 2007

Amazon's Kindle...3 years on THIS?!

Has the entire tech world gone mental? I was surfing the net just a few minutes ago and I came across a news story for's Kindle. It is a new electronic reading device that hopes to revolutionize the "book/print" market like the iPod did for music industry. However there is one slight problem Amazon...THE PRODUCT IS TOTAL CRAP!
I only spent around ten minutes reading articles/blogs about Kindle and I already know its not going to revolutionize anything and will probably be a let down for Amazon.
Not only does it look like Amazon tried to rip off Apple's patented style (which they failed at miserably, the thing is hideous), but you are limited by its lack of features. The screen is black and white (boring! Come on Amazon! Even the most insignificant small town newspaper has color features!) The scroll feature is controlled by a corny wheel! A WHEEL?! Did we go back to the 90s? What ever happened to the great advances in touchscreen technology? That stupid little scroll wheel is going to be a huge headache for Amazon's customer service line. The entire thing looks like a poor man's first generation Blackberry.
Furthermore, I don't get the concept of the product. Amazon's concept: people want their print media all in one device; just like having your music/video library in an iPod. Amazon claims:

"The Kindle represents a milestone in a time of transition, when a challenged publishing industry is competing with television, Guitar Hero and time burned on the BlackBerry; literary critics are bemoaning a possible demise of print culture, and Norman Mailer's recent death underlined the dearth of novelists who cast giant shadows. On the other hand, there are vibrant pockets of book lovers on the Internet who are waiting for a chance to refurbish the dusty halls of literacy." - Newsweek article

But I don't think the print culture is going away any time soon. Sure children (and a lot of adults) don't read as much as they should because they're clocking hours playing Halo 3. But trying to make reading sexy and tech savvy by putting it on a poorly designed device isn't going to make them change their habits.
Sure it would be nice to have access to thousands of books all in the palm of my hand and I do feel like the e-book does have a market, but it is not widespread and it is not revolutionary. The two major markets I see the e-book taping are college students and commuters.

  • College students because they can save space and money by having discounted e-books all in one device, but a student might run into the problem of needing to use multiple books at one time for a research product.
  • Then there are commuters, its obvious that two hours on the train could go by a lot faster reading the new Mary Higgins Clark novel or browsing the pages of the your favorite blog.

But one stinging question comes to mind when Amazon claims the e-book is so convenient, and that is: "What about ultra-portable laptops and iPhones, don't they simplify our lives a lot better? "Apple's MacBook and various other Windows based laptops are able to receive high speed internet via WiFi. If I want to catch up on my RSS feeds from the web, I'd rather flip out my laptop, connect to the closest WiFi port and see in full color the rantings of my favorite author. What Amazon should be doing instead of spending three years on a poorly designed e-book, is creating software that enables customers to copy their print library into a program on their laptops. We don't need another device to carry around!
Futhermore, to drive my point home that this Kindle/e-book thing is not as great as Jeff Bezos claims, I believe there is something very romantic about books. The book was, arguably, humankind's greatest invention. It is..."light, portable, easy to share, no silly DRM problems, and it really isn’t that expensive given the value of entertainment a reader can wring out of it. The paper book is a good product." Book lovers will never give up their paper books for e-books, it just isn't the same. Real books carry with them individuality, character, and a sense of history. E-books carry with them nothing but the text of the book and the cold feel of an electronic device. I'm sorry Amazon, you don't have a winner here, stick to being a great bookseller.
One more thing: They're also trying to charge $400 for this thing?! I could go get a iPhone!
I believe the wave of the future is in simplifying our lives. Thats why the iPhone is such a great product, it lets me carry one device instead of three (iPod, phone, laptop). Kindle claims to simplify my life as well, but it just doesn't follow through.
In conclusion, the Kindle sucks, Jeff Bezos looks like a tool in most of his pictures, Apple rules, and I wish I had a iPhone...Thats just me though. :-)

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