Tuesday, at the annual Amazon(NASDAQ: AMZN) shareholders meeting, Jeff Bezos made some comments about the state of the Kindle and what we can expect for the future. While it may come as a surprise for some, the goal is consistency and refinement rather than revolution. Many feel that the Kindle should be making every effort to become some sort of eInk iPad in order to survive, but Bezos emphasized the presence of the Kindle as a device for “serious readers” and insisted that this is not meant to be a multipurpose device so much as a specialty tool with a distinct purpose. Future plans for Kindle development may include the color screen that some have been pushing for, but certainly not the next model, to judge from his comments about what a complicated technology it is to get right. While it would, of course, be simple to make a device with a color LCD display, it would run counter to the purpose of the device; namely to create a reading device for those who love reading.
So what can we expect from the new Kindle? It’s pure speculation, but I’d say we can look forward to a more refined UI, faster refresh rates, a lighter form, and a better screen-to-frame ratio. Let’s not dwell on what gimmicks and alternate purposes we might want to add in and focus on what matters. Namely, that the reading experience be as clean, immersive, and enjoyable as possible.
In the wake of the controversy surrounding Amazon’s deletion of George Orwell books the Free Software Foundation is readying a petition against remote deletion and DRM. This news is somewhat significant, as the Free Software Foundation is an organization that has some weight in the world of software activism. Most famous for the GNU Project(and the related GPL license), the foundation can be thought of as the de facto head of the open source and free software movements.
The Free Software Foundation has acknowledged Bezos’ apology, but feel that it isn’t enough. The petition will ask that Amazon completely relinquish the ability to make changes to users’ Kindle libraries. One interesting point up is how the technology could provide a tool for censorship, especially as the Kindle enters new markets. This argument is likely inspired by other companies. For example, Google has taken criticism in the past for how it has assisted China’s government in censoring the internet.
For good measure, the petition will also ask Amazon to reevaluate the use of DRM. I have to say that this seems unlikely. Amazon’s view towards DRM is completely irrelevant: if the Kindle didn’t have DRM, the major publishers would stop supporting it. While DRM has its downsides, Amazon doesn’t really have a choice in the matter.
Still, the petition has gotten some notice. Once signatures have been assembled and the Free Software Foundation presents the petition, it will be interesting to see how Amazon responds. So far, Amazon has been pretty good about responding to their customers, so it is possible that they will try to listen to the petition (except of course the DRM). Then again, Microsoft has ignored the Free Software Foundation for decades and it hasn’t really been that difficult for them.
Amazon received a lot of flack when they reached into their customers’ Kindles and, without any real warning or prior notification, deleted copies of George Orwell books. The reasons for the deletion weren’t entirely Amazon’s fault, but it provoked nothing but outrage nonetheless.
Although Amazon issued a sort of PR apology/promise, it was hardly enough to satisfy all of Amazon’s angry customers. Now, CEO Jeff Bezos is trying to make amends by issuing a full out apology on the Kindle forums. The full text of his apology is as follows:
This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our “solution” to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we’ve received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.
With deep apology to our customers,
Founder & CEO
This is actually a really smart move by Amazon and, judging by user comments on Bezos’ thread, is receiving a positive reaction. I’m glad Bezos is saying that he sees what people don’t like and Amazon won’t do it. Period. No PR speak or dancing around the subject.
As a side note, the post made me notice Bezos’ Amazon profile, and it was kind of fun seeing his reviews and what books he wanted to buy. He gives good reviews to milk and cookies products, but only 1 star to The 13th Warrior. I guess even Bezos doesn’t endorse everything Amazon sells.
Jeff Bezos With Kindle DX (by TimYang.Net)
Amazon Chief Executive, Jeff Bezos, has made clear the company’s intention to bring the Kindle’s eBook store to more devices. Apparently, Amazon views the Kindle and the bookstore as two separate ventures, and is not afraid to let competitors access the same library that the Kindle does.
Currently, the only non-kindle device with access to the book store is the iPhone, through the Kindle for iPhone app. I would guess that some of the new devices getting Kindle support would have to be the iPhone’s competitors, most likely Palm, Blackberry, or Windows Mobile.
But the most strategic platform to cover would have to be Android. If Amazon hopes to compete with Google’s upcoming bookstore, it would make sense to first push their own books onto Google’s mobile OS.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Amazon has any current plans to share their eBook format with everybody. I’m guessing this will at some point be a necessity, however, as eReaders and competing bookstores become more prominent. Sure, extra support for mobile devices will help the Amazon bookstore, but it won’t affect the buying habits of a Sony eReader user. Eventually, Amazon will need to open their bookstore to all eReaders unless it wants to lose business to someone like Google.
Watch how “you can read books with one hand”, unforgettable laugh of Jeff and other fun moments about Kindle 2.
News are out and Kindle 2 will be shipping on February 24th.
So hurry up and get in line if you’re interested.
There are some good news for current Kindle owners who will order Kindle 2 today. According to Jeff Bezos “Current Kindle owners who buy one by tonight will move to the top of the queue”
Update for current Kindle 1 owners (from Amazon site):
Even though we’ve increased our manufacturing capacity, we want to be sure our original Kindle owners are first in line to receive Kindle 2. Place your Kindle 2 order by midnight PST on February 10th and you will receive first priority.
Quick summary on features from Amazon
Slim: Just over 1/3 of an inch, as thin as most magazines
Lightweight: At 10.2 ounces, lighter than a typical paperback
Wireless: 3G wireless lets you download books right from your Kindle, anytime, anywhere; no monthly fees, service plans, or hunting for Wi-Fi hotspots
Books in Under 60 Seconds: Get books delivered in less than 60 seconds; no PC required
Improved Display: Reads like real paper; now boasts 16 shades of gray for clear text and even crisper images
Longer Battery Life: 25% longer battery life; read for days without recharging
More Storage: Take your library with you; holds over 1,500 books
Faster Page Turns:20% faster page turns
Read-to-Me: With the new Text-to-Speech feature, Kindle can read every book, blog, magazine, and newspaper out loud to you
Large Selection: Over 230,000 books plus U.S. and international newspapers, magazines, and blogs available
Low Book Prices: New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases $9.99, unless marked otherwise
Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos has taken a personal stake in microblogging service Twitter. Bezos made the investment through Bezos Expeditions – his personal investment vehicle.
From the Twitter blog:
We’re happy to announce two new members of our investment team: Bijan Sabet with Spark Capital in Boston and Jeff Bezos of Bezos Expeditions in Seattle. Bijan has also accepted a seat on our board of directors. We’re looking forward to the guidance and advice both will bring to Twitter. Existing partners Union Square Ventures in New York City and Tokyo-based Digital Garage exercised their pro rata rights to participate in this round as well.
Twitter did not immediately disclose the size of the investment round, however it is rumoured to be around $15m which makes it a significant investment for Bezos. Could Bezos be thinking about somehow incorporating Twitter into Amazon.com? we all know word of mouth is amongst the best form of advertising and Twitter users are forever chatting about new and exciting products and services. It wouldn’t surprise if Bezos was to somehow incorporate Twitter into the Kindle service, what do you think?