Sunday, February 1, 2009

Will Amazon Advance the Ball with Kindle 2.0?

I guess it's appropriate to ask a question with a football metaphor as I count down the hours till my Steelers play in the Super Bowl. Word is out that Amazon is announcing Kindle 2.0 in NY on 2/9 and I wonder how significant this new version will be. Will Amazon advance the ball with this next generation Kindle?

I'm past the look-and-feel issues. Yeah, the buttons are awkward and the device looks like it came from Coleco in the 1980's. It's not an elegant product and it probably never will be. But rather than fixing the clunkiness I hope they work on two more important issues:

Openness -- This is a big one and has several facets. The Kindle is mostly a closed system that needs opened to maximize future success. Sure, I can email a PDF to my account and Amazon will convert it and wirelessly load it to my device, but what about other content formats? EPUB, anyone? The second area of openness has to do with the developer platform. Why in the world won't Amazon open that up to create a Kindle App Store model, similar to the iPhone one? Part of what makes the iPhone experience so enjoyable is the large and growing number of interesting apps for it. You could argue the Kindle doesn't lend itself to as many fun and engaging apps as the iPhone. I disagree. There are loads of apps no one envisioned for the iPhone till the platform was opened and the apps were developed. The same type of innovation would happen on the Kindle...if Amazon would let it.

Innovative Content Models -- $9.99 books are great and Amazon's obviously selling quite a few of them, but what about book clubs, all-you-can-eat and other content pricing models? If I can sign up for an e-content subscription/access model like Safari or Books24x7 on my computer why doesn't Amazon offer something similar for the Kindle?
Please, Amazon, don't just make Kindle 2.0 a modest evolution of Kindle 1.0 where you fix the button placement and not much more. You've had more than a year to study the market, see what customers like/want and make 2.0 irresistable. Don't drop the ball with some lame revision.

P.S. -- I should also mention that it would be unbelievably shortsighted if Amazon were to release Kindle 2.0 without an attractive upgrade option for Kindle 1.0 owners. Current owners were the risk-takers who invested hundreds of dollars for a funny looking limited functionality device. I hope Amazon rewards all these early adopters with a deep discount on version 2.0. I'll probably remain on the sidelines for Kindle 2.0, saving my money for the next iPhone upgrade; others are likely to do the same if Amazon doesn't make it worth their while.


Eire said...

I'd ask that they make it easier to delete stuff. Content Manager is a pain. Longer-lasting battery life would be nice.

Jazz said...

Eire - The 1.2 update will allow easier deletion of content. Hopefully though--I'm echoing Joe in my hope that us K1-ers get a significant update when the K2 is released.

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