ZDNet's Jason Perlow today offers a great piece criticizing Amazon for playing proprietary games with its Kindle ebook reader.
But looking at Amazon's own Kindle site, it's clear there is a larger problem at work than whether Apple and Amazon devices are compatible.
That is whether any ebook reader will be compatible with the Internet.
I am currently working on the second edition of my book about Moore's Law. A lot has changed since I first wrote it in 2002.
What hasn't changed is I still can't really publish it in the way I want to publish it.
My research style when writing a book is much like the one I use with blog posts. I use the Internet and reference through links.
When I wrote the first edition of this book I had to turn everything into standard footnotes, and the links in those footnotes were essentially worthless.
They still are.
This is not a technology problem. It's a problem of corporate politics and business models.
Amazon's Kindle only links to the Internet when its business model permits it. That is, when they can charge you for the content you download. It's essentially a big-screen cellphone, operated on a cellular business model.
There are two reasons for this. The obvious one is that Google Books would kill Amazon in terms of free content, given an open Internet connection. The less-obvious one is that content providers won't buy one.
All the objections being lodged against Google Books, whether from authors and publishers on the one side or privacy advocates on the other, are essentially objections to the Internet itself, and the Internet business model.
Content owners still want every access to their content monetized with cash, not ads. Privacy advocates still fear the implications of a truly interconnected society.
At the end of the day I don't care whether my ebook reader uses a Kindle format, an iPhone format, or an open format. What I want, and what I want for my readers, is open access to the great online world beyond my book.
We're still not getting it and until we do ebook readers will not break through in the mass market. Nor should they.