Monday, November 19, 2007

Net it out

Ok, the Kindle's details are out - Engadget has decent coverage of the launch. (photo here is from Engadget, watermark and all) While Jeff is doing the expected "groundbreaking" and "paradigm shifting" crap in his demo, here's what I think is important in this announcement.

1. Bundled EVDO with no contract. Ok, this is cool. WAY COOL. But is it what it really is? Sure its EVDO, and as a end user you don't have a contract, but do you have full EVDO capabilities? I somehow doubt it. I'd expect that Amazon has a low bandwidth/usage agreement with Sprint with a up front payment structure with some sort of rev share on book sales, etc. The device isn't able to really consume data given its data formats. Jeff calls it "whispernet" which I think eludes to the low data consumption capabilities of the Kindle. I think hackers will dive into this to see what's really going on here - EVDO is just too cherry of a service not to find out what's under the hood. (also, I'm going to assume it has regular Sprint Vision data as well)

2. Lots of tech. The Kindle has a lot of little nice things on it - the reduction of which would bring the price down, but perhaps not enough to justify the omission? I dunno, I'm not in hardware deep enough to know the real costs of the slide bar display, etc. I think they could have built a low end version of this for $99 or so. This price point wouldn't leave any $$ for Sprint (assuming some of the cost of the unit goes to Sprint) but with a sub $100 price point, I'd bet that sales would benefit a healthy boost because, after all, Jeff is really interested in the ongoing book and subscription revenue. So, don't you want to maximize distribution of the reader?? Sure they could drop the price later - ala Apple and the iPhone price change, but Amazon should have learned a lesson there and opted to come out swinging and go take the emerging eBook market.

3. Email, blog reading, etc. are all internet centric items hinting at this device playing the middle ground between a true stand alone book reader and an internet device. Note I didn't say internet CAPABLE device, and there's a difference there. There's real use in the Kindle, but I'm not sure how smart that is, though it goes a long way to help justify the price of the product. It then begs the question as to how far should they take it? But how far can they take it? The display is the limiting factor here - no color and low res. (Assuming slow CPU and severely limited graphics capabilities) So where does that leave the Kindle in terms of real use as an internet device? Let alone a $399 device?

In the end, this is more than a book reader, but where will it carve out a market? Does it fit into my ubiquitous computing post from this morning? I think it wants to be - but the display and CPU is a deal killer.

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