Amazon’s Kindle just does not make sense to a lot of folks blogging about it. Including me. Today the device was introduced by Jeff Bezos of Amazon via a presentation that appears to suggest he thinks this is the new evolution of reading. Cuniform, then books, now the Kindle. Actually, I sort of “get it” when you reasonably suggest that in a digital world the book is a cumbersome technology, containing only a single work in a relatively heavy casing. The Kindle is thus a virtual library of Alexandria in 10 oz plastic box. That’s pretty cool, right? Right, if we did not have alternative technologies that offered even more. As I see this the Kindle is a superior reading device to a laptop or iPhone because of better ergonomics. However, given the cost and limitations (you can’t call with a Kindle), I agree with Forbes that this device may be obsolete before it even hits store shelves.
Who will buy this expensive, highly specialized gadget and then pay fees to read things they could read for free on a computer? Forbes has a more balanced story than Newsweek’s favorably hyped “Future of Reading” silliness that I think was more a product of some exclusive they got from Jeff Bezos than a reasonable analysis of what the Kindle offers readers.
But enough negativity. I want to thank Jeff Bezos for spending so much money helping to design a product that will at the very least help to create the next generation of devices. As a heavy user of heavy laptops I know we have a long way to go here. We need a world where your phone/pda/mp3/browser also functions as a book reader. I think that will come from the phone side of things rather that a separate “reader gadget” Kindle approach, but who knows? Maybe this is the breakthrough device to get the luddites computing? Is their interest kindled with this innovation? Wait….nope….they don’t even know it exists.