Thursday, December 27, 2007

Amazon Should Consider WiFi for Kindle 2.0

First it was all the folks in Montana who couldn't connect to Sprint's cellular network, now it's...this poor soul who lives just outside Minneapolis?! When I first heard of Amazon's no-fee wireless connectivity for the Kindle I thought it was cool. Now I think it's a gimmick that needs help.

Think about it. What will you spend more time doing with a Kindle...being connected or reading? The answer is reading, by far. Despite the fact that newspapers and magazines can be updated real time, this isn't a device that requires 100% connectivity. In fact, I almost wonder if Amazon wouldn't have been better served by configuring Kindle with WiFi built in rather than the cell network. Most people are going to have their Kindle sitting on a desk or table at home each night, ready for seamless connection to the router that connects your home computer(s). Even when you're on the road most hotels offer free or very cheap WiFi capabilities.

Look at it this way: If Amazon were to offer two flavors of Kindle version 2.0, one with Sprint connectivity and one with WiFi, I know I'd buy the latter. I also wonder if that wouldn't result in a cheaper unit price since Amazon wouldn't have to pay Sprint for cell access. I'd be perfectly happy limiting my book/content downloads to those times when I also have WiFi access, which is the majority of each day!

8 comments:

Michael said...

Or, why not just offer both like the iPhone? When wireless is turned on, it first looks for a WiFi hot-spot before using the EVDO cell network.

I think this is an obvious next step for version 2.0. It also helps expand their footprint into international markets.

Joe Wikert said...

Hi Michael. Yes, offering both is an option as well. I just figured it would be one or the other for cost purposes, but they could easily have a top-end model that features both and costs a bit more.

Tyler Ruse said...

I would also caution not rush to judgement on the availablity of the Whispernet connection. I also live in a suburb of Minneapolis, and I have excellent coverage with my Kindle, including web page loading as well as the advertised 1-2 minute downloads for books from the Kindle Store.

Now if only my cell phone had this good of coverage in my home office...

Anonymous said...

I have an iPhone and not once have I been able to use its WiFi services. I either don't go to places that don't offer free WiFi, or the places I go want to charge for it (no thanks). My Kindle has worked everywhere I've been (when I've turned its radio on).

Cellular wins...

Joe Wikert said...

I have no doubt cellular is winning for plenty of Kindle owners. But why not offer a WiFi option for those that prefer it?

Ger said...

I predict we'll see a few models of the Kindle including some without wireless or a keyboard at different price points.

Personally, if I had to choose between WiFi OR cellular I would take cellular.

Anonymous said...

If you think the Kindle is a neat electronic device that has features, then having no Wifi makes no sense.

However, if the Kindle is a closed-ecosystem "experience," then removing Wifi makes a lot of sense. If you've got Wifi, then people will try to use it. Wifi is a pain to get working (know what the return rate on wireless routers is at electronics stores?). It's also a battery hog (people forget to turn it off).

Having no Wifi capability means not having to spend time and money testing it. It means not having to address edge cases in encryption schemes, SSIDs, etc. It also means that the Kindle is a works/does-not-work device, not a "spend five hours then and make it work device."

Joe Wikert said...

Good points about open vs. closed systems but I'm not sure I totally buy into it. It's true that testing time was saved by not including this and other features but I seriously doubt that was a driving factor. You're right to point out that it's one less open door to be hacked, but the battery hog issue doesn't make much sense to me. Have you seen all the notes about the importance of turning the Kindle's cellular radio off to extend battery life? That problem already exists, and if it was OK to live with it for cellular, why does it become unacceptable for wifi?