Monday, November 19, 2007

More Kindling for the Kindle

A round-up:

Me: "Since Amazon's getting into the music downloads business, I think turnabout is only fair play. Apple can start selling e-books on iTunes and come in with an oversized iPod touch (or a mini, highly-specialized tablet) with wi-fi, A/V outputs, touchscreen, color, email, a calendar, a real web browser and RSS, and music and movies at close to the same price point. (Maybe at a $100 premium). Maybe a stylus to highlight text, do crossword puzzles, and take notes. And it won't look like a taupe Etch-a-sketch... Seriously -- for an older, book-reading market, who probably listened to their first MP3s through iTunes rather than Napster, who often had Macs for their first computers... who else could do this?"

Saul Hansell (Bits/New York Times): "Amazon Pitches a Wireless IPod for Books... Because the display is black and white, Amazon will not sell books for it that involve elaborate illustrations. It has a keyboard that for now is mainly for taking notes on what you read... Amazon has mainly designed the Kindle for reading books and periodicals it sells, but it has added a number of other features that take advantage of its capabilities. It can read documents created in a number of standard formats. You can load documents on it by attaching it to a computer or by simply e-mailing the document to a special address given to each Kindle user. The Kindle will play MP3 music files, but for now Amazon doesn’t allow customers to purchase music directly from its store through the Kindle. And the Kindle has a rudimentary Web browser. This was added first to allow it to have easy access to Wikipedia, but it can access any other Web site, displaying mainly text."

Apple Insider: "With the initial iPhone now out the door and two successive models well underway in Apple's labs, it's believed to be full steam ahead for the modern day Newton project. Like iPhone and the iPod touch, the new device runs an embedded version of Apple's Mac OS X Leopard operating system. Externally, the mutil-touch PDA has been described by sources as an ultra-thin "slate" akin to the iPhone, about 1.5 times the size and sporting an approximate 720x480 high-resolution display that comprises almost the entire surface of the unit. The device is further believed to leverage multi-touch concepts which have yet to gain widespread adoption in Apple's existing multi-touch products -- the iPhone and iPod touch -- like drag-and-drop and copy-and-paste. More broadly characterized as Apple's answer to the ultra-mobile PC, the next-gen device is believed to be tracking for a release sometime in the first half of 2008. Assuming the project remains clear of roadblocks, sources believe it could make an inaugural appearance during Jobs' Macworld keynote in January alongside some new Mac offerings. Still, manufacturing ramp and availability would seem unlikely until closer to mid-year, those same sources say."

Fake Steve Jobs
: "All I can say is that between this device and the Sony Reader you almost have the making of what you want. The Sony has a nice form factor and the gorgeous buttery soft faux leather case. The Kindle has better features. I know what you're thinking. Wouldn't it be just kick-ass super duper if, say, Apple came along and finally delivered the ultimate product in this category? Because you just know if we did it the thing would look gorgeous and have a beautiful feature set and would just kick everyone's ass. What if we could get it done by January and announce it at Macworld? Gee whiz. I'll have to mention this to Jony at lunchtime."

Also: "First off, Jeanie Falzone, the woman who does my karmic repatterning, says we've been putting way too much technology into the market in too short a time. She says the world needs time to absorb new technology and if we overload that delicate balance we risk throwing the entire planet into some kind of flux state that could be really dangerous. Second problem is iBook's buttery soft faux leather case. To be sure, it's buttery soft. We spent huge amounts of time working with material scientists in Japan and Germany and ended up having to create our own unique material which has the highest buttery softness of any faux leather material ever developed. The problem is the color. I know the color I want. I can see it in my mind's eye. It's hard to describe. It's a light brown, but not quite tan. It's the exact color of the cover of a first edition of William Blake's "Songs of Innocence and Experience" which I used to have in my library, a version of which is shown above. But the color I want is the color of that book when viewed outdoors late in the day in my backyard with the sun going down into the Santa Cruz mountains. Unfortunately I no longer have my copy of this book (left it in a limo, duh) so we can't work from the original. And the other copies still in existence are not the same shade."

Bubble Generation: "The Kindle should be the hub of a thriving market, network, or community (or multiple ones) connecting every economic actor who even has a remote interest in producing or consuming print media. The problem is it's none of the above. It's just economically and strategically connecting the same old players in the same old ways."

Seth Godin:
"When Amazon came to talk to me about being included on the reader a long long time ago, I said sure, but. The but is that I wanted my books to be free and included in every reader, and my blog, too... My thought was to use it, at least for a few years, as a promotion device. Give the books for free to anyone who buys the $400 machine. (Maybe you can have 1,000 books of your choice, so there's not a lot of 'waste'.) You'll sell more machines that way, that's for sure. And the people willing to buy the device are exactly the sort of people that an author like me wants to reach... This is a disruptive approach, the sort of thing only a market leader could pull off. It changes the world in a serious way. I wanted to be part of that. I was unpersuasive. Sorry."

John Gruber (Daring Fireball): "Or what if Amazon gave you a free Kindle e-book version of every physical book you’ve ever purchased from Amazon?"

Also: "If everything is set in the exact same typeface — if Kindle’s e-books are delivered as strings of text rather than as designed pages — then the Kindle will not replace books. I think PDF is the only feasible e-book format today."

Robin Sloan (Snarkmarket): Awesomeness TBA.

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