So what’s changed with the Kindle?
It’s thinner (thinner than an iPhone!), it’s has more memory, a 25% longer battery life, it can read to you (as long as you don’t mind Steven Hawkins or his twin sister reading to you that is) and thankfully, it doesn’t look like it was made in the 1980′s anymore.
What hasn’t changed. It still costs $359, it’s still only available in the USA, it’s still locked to a limited proprietary file format, it’s still tied to a wireless only subscription service.
Then Google come along and launch their GoogleBooks portal. Which if I’m honest is a library of 1.5 million copyright free books or documents that very few will actually read. It’s a bit of a half arsed attempt if you ask me. Books that have been scanned and converted to long bitmaps that you scroll through on your iPhone or Android Phone (ensure you’re on an unlimited data service, as bitmaps are much larger than free flowing text). From a user’s perspective the entire interface, search & delivery is appalling, something you’d expect from a DIY web enthusiast, not one of the world’s leading software development companies.
So all in all a disappointing day. Amazon haven’t given us much except a thinner better looking Kindle, while Google has released a service that is shockingly bad to say the least. Which is strange, as the eBook Reader market is potentially huge, yet neither of these mammoth companies seem ready to cash in on it. Granted Google doesn’t have a hardware offering to worry about, for them it’s content driven, but content nobody wants isn’t going to attract users. Amazon have hardware margins to recoup and make a slice from each book sold or newspaper subscription, but they’re not exactly pushing the envelope, they’re simply staying one step ahead of Sony.
Rather than strangle holding the Kindle with their wireless network & closed file format, they should open it up so users can also put their own content on the device. I know they’re trying to hold onto and control the subscription services, but that’s a very shortsighted approach, they won’t be able to hold onto that for long.
I guess we’ll have to launch our no paper services earlier than anticipated, that might rock the boat a little!