Inspired by Matt’s post about his new Amazon Kindle, I felt the need to talk about this device.
I think the Amazon Kindle is an incredibly innovative device… that has an excruciatingly limited appeal.
If you don’t know what the Kindle is, basically it’s an electronic book reader. You can download books, blogs, and newspapers to it, and it will allow you to read them just as you would a book. (If you still don’t get it, go here.)
The device uses never-before-commercialized ‘electronic paper’. This stuff is really cool. It’s not a LCD screen, which are the power-sucking type of screens used in mobile devices, computers, etc. This e-paper reduces eyestrain (no backlight), can be read in direct sunlight (unlike LCD), and works just like paper. Your eye is perceiving pigment on a surface, rather than perceiving light.
While this is a cool technolgical enhancement (the next will be color e-paper), the biggest innovation Amazon achieved with this device was a breakthrough agreement with Sprint.
What does an ebook reader have to do with a cell phone company? No, the kindle doesn’t make phone calls…
When you buy a Kindle, you receive a free wireless internet connection through Sprint’s 3G cell phone data network for the life of the device. No subscription to manage. No recurring payments. No options for screwing it up. Your device connects, when necessary, to Sprint’s network and downloads everything it needs.
It just works.
I like the simplicity of it. Even the iPhone, in an effort to offload traffic from the slower cell data grid, offers a power draining additional chip for Wi-fi. People don’t care what network their on, they just want the network to be there. The network of the future is a ubiquitous, transparent network not tied to a service provider’s brand and technical details.
Music is cool. Videos are cool. Sharing music and videos are cool. Books are boring.
We have two iron-clad stereotypes in this country: rockstars vs. bookworms.
Will the Kindle make reading cool based on the coolness of the device? Probably not. Will writers and readers ever be cool? Probably not. Even Apple couldn’t pull that one off, even if it were a super-thin black plastic, aluminum and glass device with a premium feel and an ‘i’ in front of whatever they called it… it still wouldn’t fly. Reading is for old people and college students.
- I love the industrial design. Thin, light, and portable. Not sure how it feels in the hand (based on the older one with more substance to it), but I’m guessing it’s not too bad.
- I love the fact that I can get a new book or blog wherever I go (in Sprint’s network)
- I love the e-paper. Needs to work in color too.
- I love that it might alieviate backstrain and shoulder pain all over the world from students who carry backpacks that are 3x their body mass.
- I only hate that I might not use it enough to justify owning it.
Maybe I should just take up a new hobby: reading.