So I got a Kindle a couple of months ago, and I've finally got enough time to write about it.
The Kindle is confusing. It has a shocking amount of functionality, and its hard to see what Amazon was trying to focus on. Its a web browsing device, it could be a messaging device, its a blog reader, its a magazine reader, and its an online store!
My short answer is that, though this device can do many things, only one of those features is ready for primetime, and thats giving you a great alternative to reading real/paper books. The experience of purchasing a book online through the whispernet service, and then sitting down to read for hours was really a pleasure. Its very convenient, the screen is very easy on the eyes, and the akward form factor becomes much less of an issue as you get into a good book.
Despite that fact that the Kindle doesn't stand out as an engineering marvel (like the iphone) or a tech swiss army knife (blackberry curve), it makes an interesting case for a new type of device. After my few months of usage I can absolutely see how a mid-size portable device could now have a place in my daily routine, and I think I'm not alone in that thought. Techcrunch wrote an article here about analysts predicting up to $750 million in sales from the kindle by 2010 (and even the Aussies think things are picking up, despite early skepticism)!
With a bit of imagination, I could see this becoming a great mobile blogging, feed reading, and net browsing device. Having a big screen is really a pleasure (compared to a cell phone or the iphone) , and as more and more of us spend insane amounts of time online, we will welcome having an alternate way to get our fix. I eventually get sick of sitting at a computer after a couple of hours, but with the Kindle I've definitely logged several marathon reading sessions without fatigue. Having a comfortable device where I can read all my feeds from anywhere would definitely increase the amount of time I can read web/feed content!
Now I just wanted to highlight a few interesting observations about using the Kindle:
- You can order books from the amazon store online with your computer, and they'll just show up on your Kindle. As soon as I see a book I want to read, I just buy, and then its on my kindle to be read sometime in the future. Think of all the bookshelf space being saved, the potential revenue for Amazon, and the convenience of having your entire "books I want to read list" with you at all times. I realize you could probably just "save them" for later rather than buying them, but I like making the commitment of a purchase, so I'll feel obliged to read them.
- I wonder if there are some environmental/green benefits here. I'd love to see the carbon footprint of paper books vs. that of the kindle (manufacturing through ongoing electricity consumption, etc)
- I'm also intrigued with the idea of a last.fm for books. GoodReads.com is ok, but you manually have to update the site with your information, and in my opinion everything manual eventually fades. If all the books you read on your kindle got automatically passed to Good Reads (including what section of the book you were reading at that moment), you could really have an interesting social reading experience. Group could easily be created around books, and even specific chapters of the book, and eventually you could even start discussions with the community in real time as you read on the Kindle!