Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Kindle is dead. Long live the Kindle!

Now this is a new take on the Kindle's future from Joe Wikert's blog:
I'm not convinced Amazon has a long-term commitment to the Kindle hardware business. In fact, I'll go so out on a limb and predict that Amazon will completely exit the Kindle hardware space within the next 3 years.

[...] I had high hopes back in November of 2007 but Amazon is clearly hedging their hardware bet by offering the Kindle iPhone app as well as the Kindle for PC (beta) and Kindle for Mac (forthcoming) apps. That's a smart move by Amazon. If my prediction comes true and they abandon the hardware space in the next three years they'll still be a major e-content player.
Huh. While I'm certain similar thoughts have been expressed before, this is the first time I've come across anyone who thinks that Amazon will entirely exit the eReader arena (and gives a timetable too! Hmm...). The post is quite interesting, raising a number of quite relevant issues and offering places where competitors seem to win, mentioning the not-yet-available B&N Nook as a primary example and Apple's mythical "Tablet" (does this thing even have substantial rumors to suggest it will exist?) as another possibility.

I'm not sure there's a way to summarize Wikert's point so I recommend reading the whole post. What I find curious is that Wikert seems to focus so much on the Kindle's hardware issues rather than problems relating to its convenience (or lack thereof). The closed format is mentioned, but in reference to external applications (all suggestions here seem to mimic the iPhone... huh), not so much reader ease. And there's the assumption that Amazon's "e-content" is attractive. I'm not even going to approach that topic...

Also important is Wikert's claim that certain competitors are surpassing Amazon. Here the Nook seriously comes into play, except that on this count I have to shake my head and disagree. Sure, maybe the Kindle should have tried to be more like the Nook (or is it the other way around?), except we don't know anything about the Nook. Yes, aspects to it sound attractive, but it's a new product that hasn't been field tested yet and seems to be lacking here and there (like all current eReaders on the market...). I fail to understand Wikert's desire to have the Nook truly be "what the Kindle should have been", nor his belief in that statement. Still, it's an interesting look at the matter. Wikert is right in several places, including the mildly hinted idea that we should expect to see some strange and seemingly bizarre things in the future of eReaders and the currently mind-blowing concept that perhaps the Kindle isn't quite the king we assume it to be.


  1. I could see this happening. What's needed is a reader that will accept all the file formats that are currently proprietary. We've seen the rise and fall of the floppy disk drive, the VCR, and cassette tapes, all in a shorter time frame than we would have expected. Even digital cameras are now being threatened by camera phones. E-books are still in their infancy and it's hard to imagine that any of the models we now have will still seem very modern in three years (which is 200 years in e-terms).

  2. I'm not sure I agree with Wikert. I know lots of people have been saying that single function devices are useless but I like that my Kindle is good for only read ing books. As far as the Nook goes, I'm not sure how that is more innovative than Kindle, as you say, it isn't even field tested yet.

  3. Interesting post and comments. I've adopted a wait and see attitude myself.

  4. Hmmm...I'm with you. Not sure what to make of Wikert's prediction. Particularly - I have a hard time understanding why so many people think iphone & blackberry apps are replacements for e-readers - or why one device is needed for all things (umm... anyone else remember when Microsoft first came out with the xbox and tried to market it as more than a gaming console???). I hate reading off of a computer screen. I love reading off my kindle screen with its digital ink.

    As for the Nook, I am definately intrigued. But until I experience the page loading times and shop their store on an actual Nook I'm not ready to jump on that bandwagon.

  5. I completely concur with booksexy: I've got a Kindle 2, the iPhone app, and KindlePC, and the only one I ever use is the Kindle 2 itself.

    I can't see Wikert's scenario happening at all. Methinks that as long as Amazon can make a profit by producing them, they will continue to do so. And he may be underestimating the enthusiasm of the kindle community. Much like there is always someone who predicts the demise of Apple in the next year or two because Microsoft is introducing this feature or that. I just shake my head and think "you don't get it".


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