This reminds me of the birth of the Mac, the birth of the iPod and more. Steven Levy at Newsweek has written the opening big story about the new Amazon reading device and service: The Future of Reading. It’s just too bad that this device/service doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a winner.
You can read about the Kindle on Amazon’s product page: Kindle: Amazon’s New Wireless Reading Device
What it seems Amazon has done is use their powerful leverage in the publishing world to build a new way for them to market books and for you to read them. They’ve taken Apple’s iPod model, the device becomes a player for content downloaded and stored elsewhere. In the iPod’s case, the content comes through iTunes and lives on your computer and you can use it there, share it, do as you like with it. In the case of Kindle, there is no computer, the content comes from Amazon through a free cell network and lives both on Amazon’s servers and in your Kindle.
I actually don’t mind the model of a “dumb terminal” approach to serving up some content, but I’m pretty sure that books are not the right content to serve up this way. The iPod is successful because the particular content it serves up is appropriate and the delivery model works. It makes perfect sense that Bezos/Amazon would get into this game and it will be interesting to track Kindle over time.
Anne and I watched Charlie Rose interview Jeff Bezos last night after the introduction of Kindle and Anne, an avid reader said “don’t get me that for me for Christmas, I don’t want it.” Anne is not a typical target for Kindle marketing but her reaction was so fast it interested me. My reaction was to give it a chance (for the length of the interview anyway) and I was more interested in the model than the actual device. After all, I read a lot of content on the screen of my 15″ MacBook Pro and might consider even a smaller screen if Apple came out with a solid state portable computing device (bigger than an iPhone though).
There are enough detailed blog reactions to the Kindle to keep you reading for hours today so I won’t bore you with more details which you can get better elsewhere. I will say that I feel about Kindle the way I feel about Bezo’s other big project, Blue Origin, a reusable space capsule for taking small number of people for a sub-orbital ride into space. Both of them may work (toss enough money at things and they work) but I don’t think either will fly.