Round up #99: “dumb” EBRs, 50MB limit on 3G browsing?

Round up #99: “dumb” EBRs, 50MB limit on 3G browsing?

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

engadget: “Amazon puts 50MB limit on 3G Kindle’s ‘free’ experimental browser”

engadget article

When I first had my Kindle 1 (more than four years ago), techies were shocked that it had free 3G web browsing. Of course, it wasn’t like going online on a desktop…I jokingly referred to it as “web slogging”.

It was, though, still a surprise. I could check on my kid’s flight status while at a restaurant…with no monthly fee, no use fee.

It was called “experimental”, and initially, it was only in the USA (and on Sprint).

Coming up on five years of the Kindle’s existence, and it’s still experimental…which apparently means they are still doing trials while altering the variables. ;)

The Kindle Touch 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, for example, doesn’t have free 3G web browsing. Amazon says:

“Kindle Touch 3G enables you to connect to the Kindle Store and access Wikipedia – over 3G or Wi-Fi. Experimental web browsing on other websites is only available over Wi-Fi.”
Amazon help page

We’ve always known it was possible that Amazon would change the conditions of use…they can do that with any of the experimental features.

engadget (sic) is now reporting that web browsing has been limited to 50MBs a month.

I think that they may not be interpreting things exactly correctly. Amazon does say

“The Experimental Web Browser is currently only available for some customers outside of the United States and may be limited to 50MB of browsing over 3G per month. This limit does not apply when customers are browsing over Wi-Fi.”

but note that this is under the “Kindle Keyboard – Using Wireless Outside the US” section:

Amazon help page

I’ve asked Amazon for a clarification on this…about whether it affects people in the USA or not, but my guess is that it doesn’t. Update: Amazon has confirmed that the 50MB per month 3G limit is only when “…outside your country of residence”. Going to Amazon or Wikipedia will not count against that 50MB. 

Update: I have received a further clarification. The 50MB limit is for 3G use outside your country of residence, not outside the USA. If you are a UK resident, you would not face the 50MB limit in the UK…but you would face it when traveling to the USA. The reverse is also true. That means that this will affect a lot fewer people than some of the news stories have been suggesting.

Understandably, people don’t like there being a limit where there wasn’t one before…but I don’t think most people will run into this. I think it’s a bit like saying, “You can only suck three pizzas through a straw in a month.” ;) I’m sure you’d be offended, but really, how many pizzas are you sucking through a straw?

I have a lot of international readers, and I don’t mean to minimize that this may only affect them. I just want to know for sure who it affects and who it doesn’t.

Oh, and one group it doesn’t and won’t affect? People who use wi-fi. Amazon doesn’t pay for your wi-fi use, so it has no reason ever to limit it. If you have a Mindle or a Kindle Fire or a wi-fi only model, no impact from this.

More from the DoJ response to the comments

I have had time now to read the Department of Justice response to the public comments on the Agency Model settlement.

Here’s the basic set-up:

The DoJ posts a settlement agreement between them (well, the people of the United States, supposedly) and publishers they have accused of wrongdoing in the Agency Model pricing structure for e-books.

The public then makes comments, which are also public.

The DoJ then responds to the comments

The idea is that they take those comments into account, and could, hypothetically, change the terms based on ideas suggested.

Well, in reality, it reads to me more like the DoJ responding to comments from the affected parties saying, “We got you, suckas!” ;)

That’s an exaggeration, but they go point by point dismantling the opposition comments.

We can sum it up:

  • It doesn’t matter if Amazon was doing something wrong, you can’t collude illegally to combat it
  • The DoJ has no responsibility to protect companies from competition…it protects consumers in this kind of case
  • We have the power!

Those are three of the themes. They are also pretty clear that they don’t think Amazon was doing something wrong, although they haven’t yet investigated that as they have with the Agency Model.

They do reference some other people in their review of comments, including author Lee Goldberg.

Here are a few excerpts:

“…the proposed Final Judgment specifically permits Settling Defendants to pay for e-book promotion or marketing efforts made by brick-and-mortar booksellers. PFJ § VI.A. Each Settling Defendant also may negotiate a commitment from any e-book retailer to limit its annual discounts, so that each Settling Defendants may ensure that its entire catalog of e-books is not sold by any retailer below its total e-book costs. PFJ § VI.B. Monitoring and enforcement of this provision is left to the discretion of Settling Defendants and the retailers with which they contract.”

===

“Comments opposing the proposed Final Judgment and those supporting it have at least one element in common: they agree that entry of the decree likely will reduce retail prices for e-books, at least in the short term. Detractors insist that lower pricing will mean reduced profits for bookstores, authors, literary agents, and publishers, and an eventual reduction in quality, service, variety, and other benefits to consumers. Supporters welcome a reduction in e-book prices for consumers, and dismiss any lost benefits to industry participants as undeserved, speculative, or irrelevant…”

===

“The booksellers’ objection is not that they were harmed as a result of the violation, but that the proposed Final Judgment ends the collusively-attained equilibrium that provided them with an anticompetitive windfall.”

===

“Many comments state or imply that Publisher Defendants must stand in the place of consumers to preserve quality. Such a paternalistic view is inconsistent with the intent of the antitrust laws, which reflect a legislative decision to allow competition to decide what the market does and does not value.”

===

One of the ideas I love in this is the DoJ responding to concerns that online retailers take advantage of consumers shopping in a brick-and-mortar store and discovering new books and then buying them online instead. The DoJ says to the publishers that, if the publishers want to pay brick-and-mortar stores advertising fees to make up for that, go for it. Why do I think that won’t happen…? ;)

Joe Wikert: “Why Aren’t E-Reading Devices Smarter?”

Joe Wikert’s Publishing 2020 blog post

Joe Wikert and I disagree a lot (never face to face), but I have to say, this is one of the weirdest proposals I’ve read.

The basic idea, that EBRs (E-Book Readers) don’t need to copy the model of books on shelves makes sense.

I’d love my technology to learn me better, and to adapt itself to me. I’d like it to eventually figure out that what I want to do on a Saturday isn’t the same as what I usually want to do on a Monday, and adjust what it offers me.

Wikert wants an EBR to nag you.

Would you want a text message from your EBR saying, “Dear, you bought that book two months ago, started it, but never finished it…don’t you think you should get back to it?”

How about a reminder about samples you haven’t opened in a month?

Now, I know I’m not always typical, but I’d never want that kind of friction to my reading. I don’t want my Tivo questioning what I’m recording because I don’t watch it before it gets deleted, and I don’t want my EBR getting on my back about my reading habits. :)

I wrote a story about that a couple of years ago:

http://ilmk.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/winston-the-librariandroid/

By the way, I’ve found a new workflow that made it much easier to retrieve the Joe Wikert post (yes, I recommend you read it) for you.

When using Flipboard, there is a “star” feature, but I hadn’t quite figured out how it worked. It’s easy to star something (which usually means you are making something a favorite), but I didn’t see an easy way to get back to it. That’s important with Flipboard, since the stories change frequently.

Well, it’s easier than I thought.

I star the story in Flipboard.

I can log into Twitter on my computer, and on my Profile page, there is a list of my Favorites.

That’s it.

I’ll be using that more for stories for you.

Quick comment on quarterly reports

I could really keep going this morning, but I did want to mention two things. Apple’s quarterly report is considered to be “disappointing”, and Amazon will do a public conference call to discuss theirs tomorrow, 7/26 2:00 PM Pacific Time.  Yes, you can tune in and listen. I usually do, although I sometimes have to listen to the recording. The first part can be dry, but the Q&A is often juicier. My guess is that Amazon won’t announce new hardware tomorrow during the call, but will suggest it will happen…and then do a big announcement event within a week, maybe Tuesday, July 31st.

Amazon press release, with link to call

Have a comment on any of these stories? Are traditional publishers paternalistic in saying that they have to decide what is worth publishing? If the market purely decides, will we only get teenage vampire books? ;) Is Wikert right…should your EBR help you manage your reading more proactively? Will free 3G web browsing eventually disappear from the RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles), outside of the Amazon store and Wikipedia? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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7 Responses to “Round up #99: “dumb” EBRs, 50MB limit on 3G browsing?”

  1. Joan Huston Says:

    My son is in the Peace Corps in Africa and has an International version of the Kindle 2 and in the small village he is in, the K2 is his only way of communicating with me through his email! He’s there for another 2 years, I sure don’t want it stopped!
    Joan Huston

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Joan!

      I can understand that concern, certainly. If your son is just sending you messages with words (as opposed to pictures, video, and audio), I think it’s unlikely that he is close to 50MB a month. While there may be other data usage, you can figure that a typical novel is somewhere around a meg. I suspect your son would have to be sending you something like the equivalent of a 300 page novel every day to bump up against 50MB.

      Of course, things may change in other ways, but I don’t this is specifically a big threat to your son’s communication with you.

      • Joan Huston Says:

        Whew! He writes once a week and only a few sentences, so I guess he’s fine! Thanks.
        Joan huston

  2. Zebras Says:

    I have to say, I love Wikert’s idea of “subscribing” to samples. Would love to say input a favorite author (i.e., Bufo Calvin, etc.), and everytime a new book was e-published, I would receive the sample, this way I wouldn’t miss out on any. Could become overwhelming if you pick a topic too broad, say “Romance.” Don’t like his idea of having it remind you to read things, would make it feel like school again. He should get one of those talking phones to nag him.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Zebras!

      I agree that subscribing to samples would be fun and a popular feature. I suspect it might be so fun, it would cut into actual book downloads. :) I’m one of those people who really likes to see the trailers when we go to the movies, and I suspect this would seem similar.

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    My EBR doesn’t tell me much, but my Amazon.com home page certainly does — it gives me an extensive list of “recommended for you” items with a little pull down telling me why it’s making the recommendation. Sometimes it doesn’t know that I already own something (something, print or kindle, not bought from Amazon — it gives me the opportunity to update the ownership status).

    I actually appreciate that list, and I wish the similar lists when shopping directly from my kindles were as extensive. Another thing I like is that Amazon tells me when I’ve already bought a title from them. I do wish it would reach out to my several kindles, and compose a consolidated list of all that I own — reflecting also titles gotten from non-Amazon sources.

    Earlier tonight I was looking at the “archive” list from my KT, and I was surprised to see not only the books I had bought from Amazon, but also items from my “personal documents” (things from non-Amazon sources emailed to my kindle.com address).

  4. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I definitely would NOT want my Kindle to start nagging me. I sometimes keep samples around to remind me to check prices on books that I consider to be over priced in hopes that the price has come down. That’s why it irritates me that you can no longer annotate samples. I used to write notes to myself explaining why I was keeping a sample around for awhile. I can still do this on my Kindle 1, but then I can’t sort them into collections like I can with my Kindle keyboard.

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