The Kindle and the 1970s.

Electronic Paper was invented at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (sic) in the 1970s. In 2007, Amazon, one of the largest online retailers in the world and probably the only corporation capable to even think of trying this given the combination of its vast inventory, business relationships to the publishing industry and technological know-how, made the first large commercially viable attempt at bringing it to the masses. I don’t know if the Kindle, as it’s called, is going to succeed or not (I can already think of a number of problems with it), but the idea of an electronic book becoming a reality seems fascinating. If only it didn’t look like a prop from a 1970’s sci-fi TV show…

The product and associated service are only available in the U.S. for the time being. Europe is a technically much more difficult market: as the device is using 3G broadband, and more specifically EV-DO, it will need to be modified to use the 3GSM/UMTS variant, HSDPA. Then, Amazon would need an agreement with the cellular network operators in the countries it’s planning on launching the product/service before it could become an even remote possibility. And that’s not counting the publishing rights on each country etc. My guess is that, if the Kindle comes to Europe by Amazon, it’s probably going to be limited to the UK, Germany and France. The other problem, of course, is the lack of WiFi. With mobile internet rapidly becoming the norm, the choice of 3G networking might not prove to be a good one in the long run, no matter what Jeff Bezos thinks.

2 Responses to “The Kindle and the 1970s.”

  1. kostis says:

    Yeah, it doesn’t look too promising. Sony’s Reader is actually quite nicer in a number of respects, but yeah, the unlimited EVDO is pretty sweet. Until they offer a free (or $1 or $2) e-book with every hard-copy book you buy though, this isn’t going to fly.

  2. cosmix says:

    Sony’s reader, even the new one, while æsthetically better suffers even more from the same functional limitations that — arguably — make the Kindle a failure before it’s even out. In any case, I don’t think that the marketing model is the main problem here; I think that the technology has a long way to go before it gets adopted by the masses. The DRM, the lack of a platform and common standard that would liberate people from Amazon, both from a hardware and ‘software’ standpoint, are all reasons for the Kindle’s niche position in the market. Still, I’m excited that it’s out.

Have your say.

Write in the language of the post. Comments are meant to encourage on-topic discussion. For general comments, observations, complaints (e.g. about the site), you can use the form found in the Contact page. Make sure you've read the Terms of Use before commenting.

Comments Feed for this post Comments Feed for this entry.

DigitalOcean. Affordable, Fast, SSD VPS