Amazon’s Kindle and e-book evolution

Published by • November 24th, 2007 RSS News Feed

So the trend of technology development that will flop continues to receive important coverage by Tech news outlets. Is Amazon lacking in the imagination and innovation department or are they making a strong push for innovation in the future?

Amazon Kindle - e-Book Reader

I’ll take a stab at the issue of innovation and digital technology, because whether or not we believe an idea is destined for failure, it’ll be the basis for evolution of future products based on the reader concept. The latest Amazon toy is interesting to me for a number of reasons which I’ll explain below. Here’s a brief excerpt of an article from the NY Times, “E-book reader just may catch on.

Printed books are dirt cheap, never run out of power and survive drops, spills and being run over. And their file format will still be readable 200 years from now.

So e-book readers keep on coming and keep on flopping: the Rocket eBook Reader. Gemstar. Everybook. SoftBook. Librius Millennium Reader. The Sony Reader is in stores even now, priced at $350 and making literally dozens of sales. Then on Monday, Amazon introduced its own e-book reader, called the Kindle. It arrives at $400 — reading material sold separately.

Are they completely nuts? The Kindle is a thin, 10-ounce slab of white plastic, tucked into a leatherette cover. It’s not, ahem, gorgeous; it’s all white plastic, sharp angles and visible seams, with all the design panache of a Commodore 64.

One look at the gadget, and you have to gag if you’re a fan of aesthetics and design. It’s an utterly reprehensible piece of hardware, it’s like Amazon is intentionally leaving itself room for Kindle 2.0 and beyond. Seriously, as far as design goes, any clown can come up with a prettier looking device that caters to it’s core functionality. The enthusiast in you might be inclined to disagree on this issue, for one simple reason. Function triumphs between a battle of design and function in technology. Fine, I’ll grant that argument, but please don’t tell me that the brains at Amazon couldn’t come up with a prettier looking device?

Consider the apple iToys for reference. They aren’t overwhelming with functionality, but they serve their purpose and the designs are simple, sleek and have cute and innovative functionality that consumers enjoy. The “touch” navigation and excellent compatibility with all sorts of devices for data transfer as well as simplicity for max compatibility with gurus and geezers alike. Now take Amazon’s Kindle (e-reader) It basically wraps an old idea into a new “design”.

Brilliant product for Amazon to focus on due to the popularity of e-books and blogs, but the design leaves much to be desired. I’ll take a closer look at the product in the future and we’ll see what kind of innovative ideas they have up their sleeves. For now, the gadget will be gobbled up by

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tech enthusiasts (that’s you) and it’ll give Amazon stockholders something to smile about over the next few quarters. The big question is, what happens if it indeed becomes a success? Could Amazon make a successful jump into hardware and software development, after all the Internet is the wave of the future!

Look, the kindle product is a nice hint of things to come. We’ll probably not see great success in the marketing of such products for at least five or maybe ten years, once prices drop and the innovation and competition begins. Whether Amazon will be the company that brings tablet and e-book readers to the forefront of technology is entirely speculative so I won’t waste your time with detailed commentary on that front. That said, if I had to bet on someone making a tablet concept or e-reader a success, my pick would be Apple’s future line of tablets or ipod variants. Additionally. Lenovo’s Tablet PC evolution may yield a product that is everything Amazon would like it’s Kindle to be and more.

Hey, you don’t have to take my word for it. This guy played with the Kindle for 1 week and as I predicted, the model leaves much to be desired and it wasn’t just about the ergonomics and aesthetics.

Itola Author

is an Attorney and Entrepreneur from the Silicon Valley.
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