Kindle Up

I’ve had the Amazon Kindle for just over two weeks. Having followed E Ink for a few years and having played with the Sony Reader, I was a skeptic. Not so much now. A few observations:

  • It is smaller and less odd looking than it appears in photos. This is attributable to the angles used to acheive the form factor.
  • The display, as anticipated, is great, even in direct sunlight.
  • The design and usability are quite good; there is some unpredictable latency.
  • While “always on” it lacks simple sharing functionality, presumably because of DRM.
  • Whispernet makes it a standalone device- I’ve not had a need to tether it to my laptop.
  • The overall portability makes it great for business travel.

The business model has been beaten tirelessly (and often not well), so I won’t address it other than to suggest that anyone who still uses Gilette as a proxy for a consumables business model should pick up a head cleaner for his/her VCR next time he/she is at the local radio store.

Critics who pan the device for lacking a color display are missing the point. The baseline here is ink and paper and a bound publication or newspaper.

Outside of typography, print publishing has arguably seen no consumer-facing innovation or product management for the last five centuries (graphic designers will likely disagree). This, coupled with the fact that most coporeal publications are buried in artifacts of production and efficiency (or lack thereof), means that the reading experience has never been about the reader. The Kindle is meaningful attempt to change that.

Will authors, publisher, and rights holders follow suit quickly enough (or at all) to make the Kindle a success in the mass market? I won’t speculate. For the moment, the Kindle has a spot on my nightstand.


I’m at LAX waiting to board SQ011 to Narita, and I’m posting this from a Nokia E61, which has emerged from the drawer as the most versatile world phone I’ve had. This will be an interesting trip and I’ll attempt to blog it as I go. More to come…

Human Banners- Oh Wait, They’re Called Sandwich Boards?

HB recently wrote a pretty compelling summary of the relative size of Google, both in terms of market cap and share of the ad market. Eye opening, to say the least: Welcome To The Googleconomy.

Those who have been viewing the gPhone-Android-OHA developments of late as a Symbian rehash or a non-event should look at Google’s position in the overall advertising market. It’s amazing to me that when a company that makes its money in advertising (and not just any company) leads the launch of a new mobile platform, so much of the discussion remains around software platform and applications.

Much ado about…

Over the past few days the discussion around who "invented" video overlay ads has reached a new level of, well, intensity Videoegg greeted YouTube’s announcement with a gutsy positioning "welcoming YouTube" to the format, which provoked a response from Jeremy and the discussion devolved into this (you can see my comments here).

While Videoegg’s response to YouTube may have seemed a bit silly, it helped create a debate (admittedly with the help of someone looking to start a debate) in which Videoegg is mentioned in the same breath as YouTube and Brightcove.

The interesting thing here is not the debate over the overlay ad, but, given that there are an infinite number of potential formats for ad units in digital video, why anyone would focus on the format itself. The challenge for Internet video is to make new saleable ad units, and that requires participation from major stakeholders- consumers, agencies, and advertisers. The divide between the what is technically possible with Internet video and what is being bought by advertisers is vast- and the energy around something as seemingly simple as an overlay ad only highlights this gap.

Quote of the Day

From the Washington Post:

“Drinking and driving is never a good idea – least of all when the vehicle involved is a multi-billion dollar Space Shuttle or a high performance jet aircraft,” said Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), chairman of the Science and Technology committee.

You can read the story here.

Break the Box

Om has written an interesting blurb on email. Email inherits many of the targeting and noise problems inherent in physical mail, only the problem is much worse because the cost of electronic postage is dramatically cheaper.

Folks have been working on aspects of this for a long time. Goodmail is doing a few interesting things in certification. Boxbe is taking the time-honored approach of trying legitimize your inbox as a marketing channel. Others are making a run at validation, electronic postage et al.Google has tried to solve part of the problem with search (presumably Yahoo will through its Bloomba acquisition).

There is no doubt that authentication, categorization, search and relative prioritization are important in email.

Email may need improvements in technology, but it is broken as a consumer product (perhaps it’s a victim of its own moniker). The physical mailbox doesn’t scale. The mailbox metaphor in email doesn’t either. It’s a monolith.

For most people (at least people I know), I would venture to say that email is a firehose of too many kinds of information from too many kinds of sources and relationships. I just logged into a Yahoo account that I don’t even use that often and I have 12,000 unread messages and 1200 messages marked as spam (assuming it takes me 3 seconds to scan, open, and delete an email, I’d spend 10 hours clearing out my inbox). The solution is NOT to automatically push all of these messages into different folders, nor is it to just let me search for what might be important. The solution is build suitable channels for respective kinds of messages and create software that  best handles the channels.

Meebo, Gizmo, Meetro, 37Signals,and the like  are doing a great job innovating in messaging and collaboration. Xobni is doing some clever stuff. I have yet to see any radical recasting of email.

As I write this I’m down to 11,999 unread messages. Wish me luck.