20071121

Kindle Kindle little star - take my Word

The first of its Kindle ? Over the past decade, we've seen much nicer ebook readers than Amazon's ugly $399 gizmo. The size, weight, shape, vertical scrolling, the next / previous page system, the keyboard, or E Ink are cool, but Kindle is definitely not meant for LG Shine nor iPhone lovers - even though one may find a couple of book readers* among those.

And anyway, the aim of the game is not to propose the sexiest device but to set the standards for ebooks. Beyond hardware, this is about softwares, formats, DRM... and sustainable business models.

And this is truly wireless. Not Wifi but CDMA2000-EVDO (as usual, Sprint Nextel provides the radio for a new disruptive player). But the customer won't be charged for airtime.

This is not a phone but a reader with a restricted connectivity : the main revenues are supposed to be books. A New York Times Best Seller or New Release will sell for $9.99, and overall, there are over 88,000 books available in the Kindle Store (
amazon.com/kindle). And Amazon has already been a 99¢ store for paperless short stories for over two years**.

Compulsive readers could help Jeff Bezos break even, but he still needs to make sure all buyers will actually use the device on a regular basis. Usages that bring the dough, not like reading on and on the same thing (including The New Oxford American Dictionary included in the purchase).

Well. This reader has a rather restricted connectivity (dubbed "Whispernet"), and the only way to read something that wasn't imbedded is to access or download it over the air. Amazon offers all you can read Wikipedia.org, and you can browse for hours the store - no doubt other things can be ordered this way, but no card reader for book readers, and the capacity is limited to 200 titles (500 to 800 k files). AmazonKindle kindly declines files that are neither Word documents, nor pictures (.JPG, .GIF, .BMP, .PNG), nor HTML, nor TXT.

You can download such files through a personal kindle e-mail at the rate of $0.1 each. That's a start. You can subscribe to blogs and news services from $.99 / month each. That's getting juicy. And Amazon can bring partners or open the web step by step and cent by cent as they please. That's smart to start from such a low point, but I'm not sure everybody will follow all the way.

Whatever. The proof of concept would help Amazon export this service to all other devices. And turn 3G handsets and PMPs into even more multimedia players***. Come on. You don't need 3G just for a 500 to 800k file every other month.

* I mean actual books, not the Bridget Jones / Devil wears Prada / Shopaholic series.
** see "
Google Mob (pay .99 for the unshorted version)" (20050823)
*** after all, you can already use your PDA or iPod or iPhone as a sort of ebook



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