Kindle debut kindles more skepticism than interest

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. 

Kindle as “Future of Reading”? More like Present … of stupidity.

I don’t usually pan products here but the Kindle coming out from Amazon tomorrow is *really* a bad idea.   Not because it wouldn’t be neat to have a great reading device to replace books, but because of the demographics involved here.   Amazon is going to be lucky to sell enough Kindles to keep this project going through Christmas.     Part of the challenge for the Kindle is that it’s ugly.   Butt ugly based on the picture, though some are saying the Kindle picture does not do it justice.

Newsweek Reports with a title that is now in first place for journalistic hyperbole gone mad. 

But even if the Kindle was an AppleEsque stylish, techological beauty, who do they think will buy these things?

The early adopters of techology – folks like me who have a lot of computers, a laptop, and a fancy phone *already have* devices where we can read blogs and websites and books.   Oh yes, most of that reading is free on my laptop, where the Kindle is going to charge you – even for blogs if early reports are correct.  Sure it would be nice to have a portable reader for the coffee shop when I don’t have a real book to bring there.     But I *do* have a real book around somewhere that I do bring to the coffee shop if I’m not bringing my …. laptop … which gives me more than just reading capabilities.    Can I blog from the Kindle?    I’m not going to carry a Kindle AND my Laptop around with me.

OK, so what about those folks who are not attached to their technologies pretty much every waking hour?   The folks who may not even have a laptop to carry around.    They are going to budget $399 for a .. ummm …. ugly Kindle?  Huh?  The folks who don’t particularly like computers or gadgets and don’t think it’s fun to have a laptop at the coffee shop are going to jump right out and buy an ugly, new, unusual ….. uber gadget?     No.    What will the marketing say “Luddites of the world wake up and get out your wallets, because the Kindle is the high technology for YOU!”

As Matt Ingram notes, what in the world is Jeff Bezos smoking over there?.    The Kindle is yet another gadget designed by the folks who have everything for the folks who have everything, and therefore brings to the marketplace pretty much … nothing.  

OK, I’ve been mean and harsh because I think the Kindle is going to fail pretty dramatically.   I also feel bad because I understand Jeff Bezos is a cool, nice guy.    Yikes, I’ll never get a job selling Kindles door to door now, but the ugly Kindle truth is more important than that.   However, I would have to say that *some day* we may see lots of this type of device in libraries and coffee shops as a great way to bring people fresh and hugely diverse content without subscriptions to hundreds of magazines and papers and blogs and websites.   That is the neat part of this idea, but unfortunately for it to work the Kindle would need to kindle a lot of interest in the device as much as the idea, and this won’t do that.