Kindle 2: The Book That Can Run Out of Power


Jeff Bezos is delivering the second version of his allegedly very popular Kindle (I suspect Amazon  of Positive Impression Management equal to or better than Redmond in its hay daze, circa 1995). And I keep asking myself why I would want to buy a grayscale-only book (or even a book store) which runs only in the US  and can read to me but run out of power?? The current model runs for 4 days if you use it to connect to the Web at the same time – two weeks if you just read books. And the connection is via Sprint which is still risky business for connections. Read the disclaimers that Amazon has on its website:

This tool provides high-level estimates of our wireless coverage. Coverage is not available everywhere and this is just an estimation. Various factors like network problems, software, signal strength, wireless device, structures, buildings, weather, geography, topography etc will result in dropped and blocked connections, slower data speeds, or otherwise impact the quality of services.

Talk about groveling in a disclaimer only equal to the some of the drugs hawked on TV. I don’t want this … and then suddenly it hits me. I may not want this but Jeff Bezos surely does and so that is why he is out flogging this book-worn gadget idea yet again.

The PIAF Notion

Jeff Bezos wants you to buy his Kindle because it accomplishes 3 major things for Amazon:
1)it becomes a device that is largely connected thru Amazon preferentially  for your importation of  information and entertainment in the form of magazines, news, books, and views. Amazon becomes your corner library,  newstand and bookstore. Ca-ching, Ca-ching for Amazon;
2)Amazon and connection to information become synonymous in a way equal to Google and Google’s Knol wikipedia. Amazon and Google are in a race  to manage knowledge evaluation – and they both have legions of hundreds of thousands of minds at their disposal, for which neither company has paid a penny for doing the bulk of this evaluation  work for them. This device spreads  and increases the return on that brilliant  knowledge evaluation investment of next to nothing;
3)Amazon sees a big PIAF opportunity(all apologies to the French chanteuse for taking her name in a distinctly commercial vain..vane… uhhh vein). Nobody has yet effectively delivered a PIAF-Personal Information At your Fingertips device though many have tried starting from Palm’s PDAs way back when through Microsoft’s crazy Zune to Apple iPhone and its rich set of smartphone imitators to the latest crop of Netbooks (our predicted winner) – many have tried. This is Amazon’s kick at the cat – a personal book store that can  becomes a knowledge store. Jeff’s using books to get in the PC or PIAF game.  Will it work ?

Judge Kindle for PIAF on these Criteria

How many ways and how efficiently  can you talk to others through it?
How much and how well does it allow you to work on your own evaluations and knowledge creation?
How many forms of entertainment does it allow you to fully enjoy  – games, audio, video, images and animation?
How robust, sturdy and easy is Kindle to operate wirelessly and standalone?

The Final Come-on

Against these criteria , at $359 per and the near-PIAF gadgets now available in the marketplace, Kindle 2 looks like an also ran in the PIAF race. However, Jeff has one last come-on:No Wireless Bills

No monthly wireless bills, data plans, or commitments. Amazon pays for Kindle’s wireless connectivity so you won’t see a wireless bill. There is no wireless setup–you are ready to shop, purchase and read right out of the box. See Wireless Terms and Conditions. And these are some of the salient terms and conditions.

Amazon provides wireless connectivity free of charge to you for certain content shopping and downloading services on your Device. You may be charged a fee for wireless connectivity for your use of other wireless services on your Device, such as Web browsing and downloading of personal files, should you elect to use those services. We will maintain a list of current fees for such services in the Kindle Store. Amazon reserves the right to discontinue wireless connectivity at any time or to otherwise change the terms for wireless connectivity at any time, including, but not limited to (a) limiting the number and size of data files that may be transferred using wireless connectivity and (b) changing the amount and terms applicable for wireless connectivity charges.

Now I suspect that Jeff will tap into a class of users that a)don’t want games, entertainment or communication and b) that explicitly do want a light, handy gray-scale book store at their beck for use and replenishment. Now how big that market is ?  Maybe bigger than one can presume – with BIG PRINT books doing well and the need for getting books read out aloud to the vision impaired.  But is that a market maker ? You know it is not polite to end on just another question.

Update about US-only service on February 11, 2009.

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