Analysis of IT news

Monday, November 19, 2007

News Item: Amazon.com announces its own e-book

News item: Amazon announced the Kindle, an electronic device allowing to download and read books.

Analysis: this is far from being the first e-book, but it looks like Amazon put a lot of thoughts in the design of the device: a screen which allegedly looks like paper. No tedious synchronization with the computer thanks to wireless. A better wireless coverage than Wi-Fi thanks to Amazon's own 3G cellular network without any monthly fee (it's included in the price of the device). On top of that a free access to blogs and Wikipedia.

Now, provided the Kindle is as good as advertised, will it be enough to convince people to abandon their beloved paper format? No matter how convenient can the electronic format be, it doesn't replace the physical contact with a book. Plus, several people like to keep their books in their library. Knowing they are stored somewhere in a computer isn't enough, they want to keep a physical copy.

That said, there are several scenarios where people will embrace the electronic format with little or no thought:
  • Material that users are already used to read on a screen: newspapers, blogs, Wikipedia. Here, the Kindle allows to access those resources from everywhere quickly (no need to power up the computer if you want to check Wikipedia for 2 seconds) with a screen much larger than any PDA's.
  • Physical material which is discarded after being read: newspapers (this is probably why people have switched to the Internet format so easily) or books you want to read only once (think of all the people trying to sell their copy of the latest Harry Potter as soon as they've read it).
There are however two stumbling blocks. The first one is the price tag ($400) which is a bit steep to read books, even if it includes complimentary 3G access. The second is the lack of stores where people can try one. People need to see by themselves how the device works before buying.


Nevertheless, I can only praise Amazon.com for thinking outside the box and release a device that goes beyond what already exists (the idea of complimentary 3G itself is praiseworthy). Assuming the Kindle works, it's interesting to imagine how it will evolve. The first step will be to add color. The PalmPilot and the iPod both started with black and white screens but eventually switched to color. But with a screen large enough to read a book, a keyboard and 3G access, the Kindler has the ability to evolve into a killer portable Web device. $400 might be a lot to read books, but it's not that much for a 3G Web device with a decent screen.

2 Comments:

  • C'est amusant, cette annonce arrive pile au moment où mon éditeur annonce un package autour du Digibook pro... voir à http://ebook.cluster21.com/

    Il semble que cette fin d'année va enfin bruisser au son du ePaper !

    By Blogger Lefebvre, at 4:57 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Lefebvre, at 4:57 AM  

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