Why I won't be buying the Kindle 2.0

Why I won't be buying the Kindle 2.0

Summary: Amazon's Kindle upgrade has left me cold, and not just because of the paltry feature updates and mild interface redesign. Once again, the online shopping giant is missing a big opportunity to make the Kindle more than a single-function dead tree replacement.

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Amazon's Kindle upgrade has left me cold, and not just because of the paltry feature updates and mild interface redesign. Once again, the online shopping giant is missing a big opportunity to make the Kindle more than a single-function dead tree replacement.

I wrote about the problems with the Kindle platform back in October, and had high hopes that Amazon would address some of the deficiencies around the device with the 2.0 refresh. Even though there's little reason not to do so, Amazon is still sticking to a closed ecosystem around the ebook.

Which is a shame, because the Kindle could be much more than just another way for Amazon to sell things -- while still remaining a way for Amazon to sell things, of course, and perhaps sell even more.

One example: Right now, it's possible to get PDFs and other documents onto the device by mailing a file to Amazon. However, using the free service, I've seen delays of days before the converted document shows up in my inbox. Not terribly useful when I'd like to send a couple of work docs to myself to read on a plane.

If Amazon would open up just its document conversion tools, they'd likely improve the quality of the tools for its own use converting published material as well.

But, if they took it a bit farther, they could also open the annotation tools on the platform -- and make the Kindle the killer device for anyone who does a lot of reading and work in transit.

What about a decent email client on the Kindle? While that might increase the traffic on Whispernet, which would you rather use to read and respond to email -- that dinky BlackBerry, or a nice book-sized device with a much more pleasant screen?

I was an early adopter of the Kindle, and don't plan on retiring the 1.0 anytime soon. It's a fantastic device for anyone who enjoys reading on the road without the hassle of dragging along a bunch of dead tree weight. But Amazon has failed to give a compelling reason to buy the 2.0. Granted, it looks like they've gotten rid of some of the most annoying facets of the 1.0, but that's not enough to make me shell out the extra $350 after spending the last year getting used to not accidentally turning pages.

But I bet the platform would have seen some massive improvement if they'd given the device a chance to develop a community of contributors instead of just a set of customers. Here's hoping Amazon learns its lesson by Kindle 3.0.

Topics: Mobility, Amazon, CXO, Collaboration, Hardware

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32 comments
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  • Re: Why I won't be buying the Kindle 2.0

    E-Books have been around for some time, and many smart phones can open up PDFs. So I would ask, why would anyone buy a separate device to read on, when you can do this already with your cellphone? Is it because of the bigger screen? Or is it because its intended use is reading?
    In an economy in recession, does this really make sense?
    jetsethi
    • Why?

      The Kindle and Sony (and quite a few other) e-book readers use a more "eye" friendly screen and have longer battery life.
      medezark@...
      • another reason

        i got my girl the sony reader a few years back.. because she loves to read.. she has a smart phone but because she cant stare at a lcd screen for hours with out getting a migraine... and the small font is hard for her to read... the sony reader was a god send for her... and reading in the dark isnt all that hard to do.. there are a plethora ebook/reading lights you can find.. (one from sony wich is just a light screen over priced..but spiffy)

        the digital ink technology is pretty spiffy.. requires low power and will last for freaking ever (not for ever but you get the idea) and it really is easy on the eyes.....

        those are all good reasons to use a separate reader as apposed to smart phone .. some people just cant read the small font/screen for long periods of time.. (and its really annoying when you are getting to the good part and your battery dies)
        stravos@...
      • Tradeoff

        Battery life on my Peek when left on has been as long as four days, shorter when used actively.

        I can also put the Peek in my pocket or a cellphone case pretty easily, so while it's got a smaller screen, it's also just plain smaller.

        And the eye-friendliness hasn't been an issue for me. If you're using a device for reading only AND you struggle with eye strain, perhaps a device like Kindle will be the best option. My point was that it's a waste for me to pay that much for a reading device when I can buy something that does much more.
        RayneToday
    • Pros and Cons

      In all honesty, the biggest advantage to the Kindle is
      the size of the display, giving you a viewing area about
      the size of a paperback page. The second biggest
      advantage is the incredible battery life. Because it
      doesn't use a full-time backlight (or any backlight at all
      for that matter) the drain on the battery is minimal.
      The display isn't really good enough for web browsing,
      but it seems at least functional for visiting the 'Library'
      and ordering/downloading books.

      To me, the Cons outweigh these few Pros. You have to
      have good light in order to read, which lets off reading
      in bed or under the stars when you're out camping; a
      perfect place for such a device. I can live without color,
      since the purpose is simply reading a book, but why
      not allow reverse imagery, white letters on black
      background, since it has already been proven that it's
      easier to read and easier on the eyes in the long run.

      I also don't like the fact that so much of its bulk is
      made up of a full QWERTY keyboard, a tool really not
      necessary for a reading device, though I won't deny it's
      useful for keying in a search for specific titles or
      authors. Still, a virtual keyboard would work just as
      well on a display that size.

      The Author also pointed out that the original had a
      serious button-placement issue that, to me, has not
      been resolved, merely reduced by shrinking the size of
      the buttons and not the placement.

      All in all, when combining price and capability, the
      Kindle is NOT the reader for me. I shall wait until
      something better comes out.

      Vulpinemac
      • Counter-Con

        [i]You have to have good light in order to read, which lets off reading in bed or under the stars when you're out camping; a perfect place for such a device.[i]

        Use a... light. The idea is to read this just like you would read a book.
        I think people have been reading in bed way before devices with backlighting were even conceived. Any electronic devices you bring while camping out will run out of juice pretty quickly. You're especially SOL if you bring a device with an integrated battery that you can quickly swap if you're nowhere near a power outlet. At least with the Kindle you have a lot longer before it runs out of juice, and you can use your flashlight or lamp for light.


        [i]but why not allow reverse imagery, white letters on black background, since it has already been proven that it's easier to read and easier on the eyes in the long run.[/i]

        You can so that with the Kindle 2. Picture #8:
        http://content.zdnet.com/2346-17924_22-267265-8.html


        [i]The Author also pointed out that the original had a serious button-placement issue that, to me, has not been resolved, merely reduced by shrinking the size of the buttons and not the placement.[/i]

        I believe the problem was the size of the RHS button. It spanned the full height of the device, so it was easy to hit "next page" while simply holding the device. They made that button smaller, so that's not prone to happen any more, as I understand.
        tikigawd
  • RE: Why I wontt be buying the Kindle 2.0

    Because it was not produced by Apple
    Monosdeja
    • Really?

      I'd hate to skip out on products just because they aren't made by Apple. First of all, I'd have to give up pants in public, and no one wants that. :-)
      Zonker_z
      • ...

        CORRECTAMUNDO, Zonker. BTW, how are the screaming yellows these days? ;-)
        ttocsmij
  • good idea.....?

    Kindle...a good idea for the few, a geek toy for some, but is it practical. It's better than paying big bucks for a smart phone with its teeny screen and big price (for a phone!), or apple - well we won't even go there except to say that a 50 mile drive to even find a dealer/repair shop is not practical.

    However, Kindle does not allow for my "stuff" that I lug around to easily be uploaded...cert training e-books, downloaded pdf's, How-To articles, etc. I think that the Sony device does according to a video I viewed several months ago.

    However, why buy just a kindle for $350 when you can have a Netbook that does bunches more for nearly the same price? I just ordered one and will put Win7 on it with the reduced (un-bloated) internet, email, and office software for under $400. I can also download Amazon books to my hearts delight if I want. Hmmmmmmm...
    royala@...
  • RE: Why I won't be buying the Kindle 2.0

    I agree that the kindle completely misses the boat on PDFs. That's basically all I need. Meanwhile I've ordered I've ordered a eSlick reader at http://www.foxitsoftware.com/ebook/ .
    bob@...
  • Why I bought one

    The Kindle 1.0 was a nice idea, but had some serious usability issues.

    I pre-ordered a 2.0, because simply put I don't *want* to read books on a computer. I like the idea of a special-purpose device that does a good job letting me read; the ability to push HTML and TXT docs directly (without the conversion service), and the ability to buy new material without being near a computer, are compelling features.

    I don't want yet another portable computer, I want a portable text library, and the Kindle 2.0 nails that.
    darren.meyer
  • Joe Brockmeier

    Hey Joe,

    Maybe there not really ignoring you and your ideas so much as, you just think you're more important than you really are.
    Brian G
    • in fact

      In fact, Joe, right now their Marketing manager is down the hall banging on the Engineering manager's desk with a copy of your article wanting these features added by the end of this month so he can get the news in his 1Q report and get that first quarterly bonus nailed down. He thanks you of course. ;-)
      ttocsmij
  • Wait..I think you're missing something here...

    "But, if they took it a bit farther, they could also open the annotation tools on the platform ? and make the Kindle the killer device for anyone who does a lot of reading and work in transit.

    What about a decent email client on the Kindle?"

    I think that device already exists...it's called a 'Net Book' and it's cheaper. Let's just keep Kindle a Kindle, shall we? You have a good point about the doc conversion; it seems to me that there's some corporate shenanigans going on between Amazon and Adobe here.

    "It?s a fantastic device for anyone who enjoys reading on the road without the hassle of dragging along a bunch of dead tree weight."

    So, really what you saying is, "They got it so right the first time around, I don't even need to upgrade." Maybe it's just me but it sure seems like your grousing about a product that came out really strong in the first place rather than in the 3rd version.
    Ken Gray
    • It's just you... :-)

      "Maybe it's just me but it sure seems like your grousing about a product that came out really strong in the first place rather than in the 3rd version."

      I don't think it came out as strong as all that. Yes, it's a good first attempt -- but the delta between 1.0 and 2.0 isn't that great, and the device still seems to be missing a lot of logical features as far as I'm concerned.

      The Kindle could, and should, do far more than it does today.
      Zonker_z
      • single-use devices are out

        The reason it should do more is because we're no longer carrying around single-use devices (even though some of us don't mind). Cell phones do more than talk, they message, take pics, go online, etc.

        Using a $350 device to just read is fine for heavy readers, but adding simple email clients and removable storage would seem to be a value-add that would work for more than just one segment.
        coffeeshark
        • Email....wait....

          it already has several email clients...Yahoo, Gmail, etc.

          It has a browser so you've got them already.
          Ken Gray
        • don't leave out PDFs

          email and PDFs are two technologies that could benefit just as well from the screen size, readability without back-lighting and extended battery life, without terribly impacting the battery life. Amazon has the storage and bandwidth to handle the email, and they could always charge an extra $100 per year for the feature, so the non-email bookworms won't have to subsidize those who wish to remain connected by their Kindle.

          Amazon should at least sell a Windows utility for converting PDFs for upload to the Kindle.
          ITSecurityGuy
  • RE: Why I won???t be buying the Kindle 2.0

    True, about pdfs etc, but these days you can view them on pretty much any mobile phone with email (nokia email, bb etc)

    The main thing they need to sort out is the price. Maybe they need to move to a subscription model, where you buy a book (min) every month for 12-18months.

    If mobiles weren't subsidised by call plans, the mobile would not have taken off as much as it has.

    David
    http://www.Joots.co.uk
    davidjoots