Not cool, Amazon…and that’s a good thing

Not cool, Amazon…and that’s a good thing

Iย recently wrote about a TechCrunch article claiming to have had a hands-on with a new Kindle.

People were immediately negative, which didn’t surprise me…I don’t think Moses could introduce a new tablet without getting criticized. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A lot of the comments reminded me of the great Peggy Lee song (co-written by the recently deceased Jerry Leiber), “Is That All There Is?”

Essentially, those comments boil down to the new device doesn’t sound cool.

Yep…and that’s a good thing.

There are a lot more people who aren’t cool than people who are.

That’s going to be tough for gadget people to understand, I think.

I’m sure there are a lot of people who say, “Am I cool enough for an iPad?”

Many of those people say, “No…not worth getting one.” There’s social pressure in having the “cool” thing. Not everyone wants to be cool…they may think it’s ridiculous, or that they can’t live up to it.

I hadn’t really thought about it, but that’s probably why I didn’t like the Kindle adds with young hipsters leaping off buildings and reading in Boho coffeeshops. I’m not one of those people (I don’t dislike them, I’m just not one…big surprise, right?). ๐Ÿ˜‰ I don’t want somebody saying to me, “You’ve got a Kindle…can you help me order at Starbucks and explain those OK guys singing with the Muppets?”

Just as there are people who get iDevices because they define you, there are people who don’t want them for that reason.

That doesn’t mean they don’t want the functionality…well, maybe they don’t need all those apps, but hey, it would be nice to be able to e-mail on the go and watch movies while waiting for your flight…on a screen bigger than a deck of cards.

Half the price of a low-end iPad, more functionality than the NOOKColor…it’s a functional tablet without the “keeping up with the Jobs'” feel. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m not sure about introducing it with wi-fi only…that may take away from the immediate easy use that’s going to be the selling point of the user interface.

This is all speculation at this point, of course…no official announcement from Amazon. Still, I think that people who think this device supplants the reflective technology of the current Kindle or has to match an iPad aren’t seeing a big hunk of market that’s out there.

As to the E Ink question, I do want to address that a bit here. Barnes & Noble introduced the NOOKColor backlit “reader’s tablet”…and later introduced the NOOK Simple Touch reflective screen device. Sony just announced both new E Ink readers…and backlit tablets. There’s nothing that says to me that Amazon introducing a tablet and calling it a Kindle (if they do that, as the article suggests) means they won’t also have and continue to innovate with E Ink devices.

Regular readers know I’m hoping they wouldn’t name a backlit device a Kindle, to keep that line purer in concept. I don’t see anything wrong with Amazon having multiple hardware lines.

However, as I said to my Significant Other earlier today, I sort of have a selfish reason to like it being called a Kindle. That way, I can write about the tablet in this blog without changing its name… ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

19 Responses to “Not cool, Amazon…and that’s a good thing”

  1. Rick Says:

    I, too, wish they had included a 4G connection, but I think it is financially impossible. The average Kindle owner uses a few minutes of cellular airtime per month to download books, etc. But what if you have a device that can display streaming movies? Now you jump to HOURS of airtime per month. No way is AT&T going to sell that time up front for a few dollars. I think that is also the reason the Kindle comes with a lousy web browser — keep down the airtime usage.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Rick!

      Oh, I wasn’t suggesting a free 3G/4G connection, necessarily. People could choose to sign-up with their own cell service, hypothetically, and there’s nothing that would stop Amazon from offering a data plan on their own…

  2. Harold Says:

    Matters not what they name it … I’m a function over form advocate. But I do agree that another name makes more sense … we have too many Kindles already named Kindle.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!

      Oh, a lot marketing is about perceived identity, so I do think the name matters. I was suggesting the “Amazon Current” a while back.

      I do think the naming scheme of labeling whatever six (or seven?) in ch Kindle is the “latest generation” as just “the Kindle” makes it hard for people to buy accessories…

  3. Mike Says:

    The only problem that I have with the tablet is that it seems like Amazon is ignoring a market that they previously dominated (eink readers) in favor of playing catch up in a market that most tech pundits agree can’t be won, tablets. People on the Kindle forums are understandably upset because Barnes & Noble and Sony are releasing updated eink readers with great new features and Amazon is doing the one thing Jeff Bezos said they never would, make a backlit, color Kindle. I’ve heard people say that Amazon hasn’t forgotten about the eink Kindle but the Techcrunch article specifically mentions that “it doesnโ€™t seem likely that Amazon is going to release a touch-screen e-ink Kindle, like the new Nook, anytime soon.” So essentially it seems like they’ll keep the eink reader around in the same “red headed step child” fashion that they did with the KDX. It’ll exist but it’ll be very much on the back burner for Amazon. If there weren’t DRM on ebooks preventing me from converting my collection then I would probably jump ship now and go get a Nook simple touch. Sorry about the anger but this whole thing has had me aggravated all night. Thanks for the excellent article as always though.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Mike!

      While I think it likely that the author of the TechCrunch article had a hands-on with something, I don’t give the same weight to the speculative statement about the E Ink Kindle. We have had strong rumors that they will release a touchscreen reflective screen device (E Ink is a brand name, and not the only reflective device possibility) before the end of the year.

      I appreciate your passion, but it does sound a bit like you’re calling the divorce lawyer because somebody told you they saw your spouse at a restaurant with somebody else. ๐Ÿ™‚ Barnes & Noble hasn’t dropped E Ink, Sony hasn’t dropped E Ink…many tech writers have seemed to not like the idea that a book-like experience is important to people.

      Well, I think we both may have a reason to be thankful for DRM (Digital Rights Management) here! I truly believe that if you had jumped ship to B&N, dealt with their Customer Service, saw their limitation compared to Amazon, and then Amazon released the reflective screen device of your dreams, you wouldn’t have been happy…and that wouldn’t have made me happy.

      I’d just suggest you hang in their, and not toss the relationship based on a rumor and assumption…the two of you have had a good thing going so far, and it’s worth a little patience. ๐Ÿ™‚ If it turns out Amazon is abandoning you, throw the bum out. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I agree with you that they seriously under-supported the KDX…I do think KDX owners deserve an update with some of the K3 capabilities.

      Thank you for the kind words!

      • David Says:

        I agree with you that they seriously under-supported the KDXโ€ฆI do think KDX owners deserve an update with some of the K3 capabilities.

        From your lips to Jeff’s ear! Is the KDX doomed to be an asterisk in the history of rEaders? I hope not and I hope it won’t just be a hackers toy, either.

      • bufocalvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, David!

        Yep…the DX might be the Tucker Torpedo of EBRs (E-Book Readers). ๐Ÿ˜‰ One I think very difficult to predict element in their lack of success was a legal challenge to their use in colleges. That derailed a wider college acceptance, although that wasn’t the only barrier. I think that academic use was definitely part of the calculations.

        That doesn’t prevent them from updating them, though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Magno K. Nardin Says:


    The name Amazon Kindle it’s ok for me ๐Ÿ™‚ New Kindle will be Kindle Nano (former 4) and my Kindle 3 is now Kindle Classic ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. Morgan Says:

    Kindle, to me, is synonymous with a “true” EBR- not back-lit, doesn’t have apps, can’t stream video, etc. I hope that they don’t start calling other devices Kindle’s. I also hope they stay true to us bibliophile’s who only want an EBR, not a device that can do your laundry for you too ;-p BTW you made me LOL with the sentence “There are a lot more people who arenโ€™t cool than people who are.”…. That is very very true.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Morgan!

      I’d prefer EBR to stay for a reflective screen device. I’m not quite sure how I feel when devices can do both reflective and backlit…I think that may happen within the next year. I think the definition is fuzzier, though…you can already listen to music, go to websites, and play games (and install apps) on your Kindle 3. Is it no longer an EBR?

      I’m glad you liked that line…if everybody was cool, nobody would be cool, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ You can’t have a world full of Fonzies and only the occasional Ralph Malph. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Morgan Says:

        Hmmm, u are right that my KDX allows me to listen to music, go to websites, etc… Maybe I didn’t include that b/c it doesn’t do those things “well”. i realize how subjective that word is…. I guess that my criteria for a true EBR would be that the primary focus of the device, the thing it does best, is reading and storing a book (I added storing with the collections update in mind). There’s many ways to poke holes in my stance though so I suppose it comes down to a personal preference. Frankly I have no want to buy another Kindle. My DX, even w/o the recent updates, is perfect for me. I am a techie and am under 30 so overall my expectation is for my “stuff” to become more streamlined and efficient. For example I expect my BB to sync with all my accounts, work as a GPS, be a flashlight, etc. …. however I just appreciate the simplicity of the Kindle. Do I want Amazon to keep progressing and innovating? Yes! But I am quite content with my lil KDX.

  6. Magno K. Nardin Says:

    Kindle Tablet = Amazon Kindle
    Kindle 4 = Kindle Nano
    Kindle 3 = Kindle Classic
    Kindle 2 = Kindle Retrรด
    Kindle 1 = Kindle only ๐Ÿ™‚

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing again, Magno!

      Unfortunately, the Kindle Classic already means the Kindle 1 wIithin the Kindle community. I like the term of the Kindle Retro. I don’t think the Kindle 4 will necessarily be smaller than the Kindle…that’s what Nano suggests. We don’t know yet, though. I’m fine with Kindle 1, 2, 3, and so on, myself.

  7. Chris Says:

    I think it makes more sense in marketing terms to keep “Kindle” for only e-ink devices. Amazon has made the word “Kindle” very synonymous with e-ink. If they name the tablet “Kindle”, it seems like they are replacing the e-ink device. If they name it something else, it doesn’t seem like a replacement-it seems like an addition.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Chris!

      That is exactly how I feel about it. ๐Ÿ™‚ The term Kindle should be for Amazon’s reflective screen devices. They weren’t the first with that in the market, and they aren’t the only one, but it immediately says something. Just as an Amazon tablet is going to be called “Amazon’s iPad” in some coverage, Kindle means a purpose-built reading device.

      In my opinion, it’s better for Amazon to build the Amazon brand for hardware (slowly and carefully), not just the Kindle brand.

  8. Tom Semple Says:

    Regardless of whether they call them ‘Kindles’ or not, I think there are 2 more or less distinct categories of tablets right now: those that compete directly with iPad, and those that do not. The 7″ Amazon tablet is going after the ‘do not’ category, which is up for grabs at this point.

    ‘Success’ for Amazon will involve grabbing a large part of the tablet market that is not yet occupied by Apple, and raising the bar for entry by Apple and other would-be competitors such as Sony and Google/Motorola). In particular it has to kill NookColor 2 on the one hand (‘color ereaders’), and Samsung/Archos/Dell on the other (so called ‘media tablets’). I think Amazon can pretty much clear the field of these lesser players, get some market experience, and establish a beachhead before taking on Apple more directly with a Honeycomb-powered device.

    I personally don’t have any interest in the 7″ tablet as it has been described, especially if it has the same 1024×600 screen resolution as NookColor (and most netbooks). Reading text or watching video is fine on that, but it is not really adequate for PDF or magazines or ‘high design’ content, or even the typical web page, and for me the latter are requirements in a tablet, not ‘nice to have’.

    So I agree with Steve Jobs in this respect:

    Note he is careful to say ‘current crop’, but that is not to say a higher resolution 7″ device could not be successful, or that Apple wouldn’t ship one themselves. Amazon could even be doing Apple a favor by crushing competition in this ‘mid-size’ tablet market, in advance of Apple’s own entry. There’s nothing magical about 10″ screen size, it just happens to be where (in the past) you can get a cost-effective display that’s capable of ‘full page’ document viewing. But that will change.

    iPad3 rumors have focused on a pixel-doubled 10″ screen (2048×1536), but how about taking doubling the pixel dimensions of iPhone’s retina screen (to 1920×1280) for a 7-8″ device? For me at least that would be the sweet spot.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      I do think there is a tiered market, but I don’t think the AmTab has to kill the NOOKColor line…I think there is room for both of those.

      I’m sure a lot of people agree with you on the images…I was okay with the Kindle 1. ๐Ÿ™‚

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