Urbin Report

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tech Punditry

Here is my geek punditry for the day. The Amazon Kindle etext reader is going to sell well. It will succeed for the same reason the iPod did. The iPod did not dominate the mp3 player market by creating a better mp3 player, they did it by greatly expanding the market through its iTunes service. People who had no idea of what an mp3 was or how to create/find them now had a way to purchase digital music easily and for less money than they paid for to get the music on CD.

The Kindle has Amazon shopping built in and thus a way to purchase etext at a reasonable cost. Amazon is attempting to follow the highly successful model Apple used, and it will probably work.

I've been doing the etext thing for years on my Palm based PDAs. There is an amazing amount of material available, including Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Beam Piper, and a good chunk of the Baen Books catalog. I am, however, a lot more geeky than the general public. I was not part of the Apple model because I knew about mp3s and the problems with overly restrictive copy protection.

Apple's "Kindle format" is an encrypted version of the Mobipocket format common on PDAs such a Palm OS based devices. It does support non-encrypted Mobipocket, as well as text files and a few other open formats.

The Kindle's biggest competitor will be the iPhone, once decent reader format is available (and either iTunes supports loading it or there is some third party software you could use without having Apple brick your phone), but I think the Kindle will hold its own, for the reasons stated.