You might have heard it somewhere else first, but to be sure you hear it here too: the new Amazon e-book reader will fail
(check out the Kindle at Salon's Machinist blog
for one of the many many first-look reports).
So why will it fail? Because I said so. Because, without sounding like a know-it-all technocrat, it seems pretty obvious. Because it is pretty hideous, and that is coming from someone who doesn't really care too much about that sort of stuff, and the buttons look horrible. The first rule of technology is usually that interface matters. Sadly, it sounds like the Kindle already dropped the ball on that one because someone somewhere said something bad about it. I'm not being a wise ass, either. The problem with first generation technology is that it has to really go above and beyond the core expectations to convince the large number of people required to make it a success. No, Kindle is not really "first gen" in the sense that ebook readers have existed for quite some time. But it is about as "first gen" as the iPod was when it first came out, because it is a significant departure from what we expect out of an ebook reader. The fact that the average consumer has probably never even held an ebook reader, let alone one that can download all the newspapers and blogs you read, has likely not been lost on Jeffy B., who probably thinks he can be the next Steve Jobs if he tries hard enough.
I dunno, maybe he can. The wireless is free, provided through EVDO cell technology.. I don't think that is anything to scoff at, even if it isn't broadband. But for the sake of sensationalism, I'm going to say here and now that it isn't what the public wants. We sort of want it, but we don't want DRM and subscription fees and, at the end of the day..
.. Do Americans even read anymore?