Tue 20 Nov 2007
Over and over people come up with something they think will replace traditional books. Over and over they are proved wrong. Next in line to get slapped is Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. His Kindle device is not only ugly (and who would like to be seen with something hideous in his hands?) but it also perpetually ties its user to Amazon, them being the only source for purchasing any content for Kindle.
So not only this “e-book” concept lacks all the advantages of the traditional book – no requirements for power or wireless coverage of any kind, durability, ease of use – but it also limits the concept of ownership. If I buy a book from Amazon now I own it. I can lend it or give it to a friend. I can make a copy of a few pages and give it to a friend. Will I be able to do the same with the Kindle-book? I doubt it.
I think the ugliness of the thing together with lack of clear benefits of having it over a laptop or… about 10 or so normal, paper books will be enough to kill it. People who read – and read a lot, otherwise this toy makes no sense at all – are not the same target market as usual gadget-buyers, especially customers who buy modern all-singing-all-dancing “mobile phones” and then waste money on ringtones and wallpapers. People who read tend to think.
There are just a few people who had a very good idea and had also enough luck, connections and execution power to turn it into gold. But even fewer are able to do it more than once. It is nothing unusual to get so immersed in one’s idea that one is not able to see its flaws (happens to me too). The problem is that no one dares to tell the wealthy and powerful people their idea is… less than perfect, to put it mildly. Some may fear for their position, others want to just rip the stupid affluent off.
Clearly no one told Bezos he won’t get far with this and judging by his announcement he didn’t realize it by himself. Yet.