Yesterday R. sent me e-mail with the link to TechCrunch that I blogged about a couple days ago (the Mr. Carr is foolish entry) -- he hadn't realized I'd already kicked it a few times. I read him my blog entry, added some color commentary, and he said the article had only just percolated up to Google News. I said I'd found it a couple days ago by googling "kindle" in google news, which I do every little bit when I feel cranky and would prefer to pick on someone or something I don't know and in general think is deserving, rather than whatever or whoever next happens to cross my path. While I was thinking about this practice (which I freely admit is of questionable morality), I engaged in it and found this:http://blogs.zdnet.com/perlow/?p=12419
Honestly, I got goosebumps and a huge grin and was just quivering with anticipation. I mean, there is _so_ much potential here. But it was late, and I didn't want to rush it so I went to bed instead.
First, what a fantastic and wonderful photo of a gravestone! Creative! Complete with the Amazon smiley arrow. And the caption uses the word "extinction"! Yum. As if it were some species unable to keep up with predation or unable to reproduce quickly enough or whatever, instead of a product whose maker decided to, say, make something else instead.
The article as a whole contrasts not just the iPad (which, one might note, is still at the preorder only stage as a product) with the kindle, but a hypothetical future product, the iPad Mini. Lest you think this is a joke (and it did cross my mind), notice that today's date is March 25. If only Mr. Perlow had saved this article for April 1! Talk about the ambiguity (not to mention plausible deniability) he could have enjoyed then.
The iPad Mini with a 6" display would occupy a product niche between the (expensive) iPad and the (too small to be a great book reading device and we all know that now, altho it is a nice alternative book reading device and apparently quite handy when reading after the person one shares a bed with has already turned off the light. R., I might note, would never, ever, ever tolerate even the iTouch amount of light.) iTouch. Mr. Perlow believes the iPad Mini will be available in 2011 for $349 and will replace the iTouch. Because everyone who owns an iTouch definitely wants their only option to be too big to slip into small pockets.
In case that hypothetical product is too far in the future, Mr. Perlow has an additional lineup to KILL KILL KILL the kindle: android based products selling in the $200-$300 price range with "color dual mode transflective touchscreen displays, which have all the power consumption and readability advantages of e-ink and all the flexibility and screen refresh speeds of LCD". I had to pause there to doublecheck the timeline, because anyone who actually understands product development (of, basically, anything) knows perfectly well that that technology ain't dropping into mass market consumer hands for at least two years (please, come back and tell me how wrong I am this Christmas. Or, for that matter, Christmas 2011. I'll buy myself one and you one, too! Offer limited to first person to tell me I can eat crow and pony up now.). And _no_, I don't care what the developers here have to say about their timeline:http://www.pixelqi.com/products
But no, Mr. Perlow thinks that if the Pixel Qi people say within a year for the display, then the full product will be available in well under a year. Yet, oddly, he does not think that Amazon would release a kindle using that technology.
Pause for rumination. Why, exactly, would Amazon not buy this transflective technology? Hmmmm? Perhaps the e-ink kindle is the kindle that Mr. Perlow expects to suffer extinction, replaced by the mutated kindle with the transflective screen? But no, that would be too rational, and a rational straw, er, dedicated e-reader is no fun at all.
Mr. Perlow is not so loopy as to suggest that the kindle bookstore will go out of business or, say, that Amazon will go out of business. In the spirit in which Mr. Perlow invented the iPad Mini, and used it to wipe out the iTouch, I hereby predict that in a future column, Mr. Perlow will describe in limited detail but quite emphatically that the Apple iBookstore and/or B&N online will put Amazon.com right out of his misery. I expect these predictions to bear a similar relationship to the actual future we will experience. Assuming we don't die when the kindle does (not) die.
That's what I had in mind to write. In practice, however, I find that I want to address a completely different problem with this column. After all, most people predicting the death of something-to-do-with-goliath-of-ebooks are not hypothesizing new technology, new products and new wtf within a very brief time frame to accomplish that goal. Rather than saying David will show up with a railgun or whatever, they are saying that David is going to show up with a slingshot, and Mr. Perlow actually included that argument here as well.
"the model for cost justification for owning one of these devices just got blown out of the water by the iPad." That's kind of weird, given how expensive the iPad is, and how cheap the kindle is, and how much further the price can go down on them both (but probably further on the kindle). Why would a more expensive product out compete a cheaper product? Because it does things the cheaper product can't do. And that's really Perlow's argument, and the general argument against the kindle.
And yet, despite the fact that people keep inventing things like toasters that cook eggs, most of us have a frying pan and a toaster -- but not a toaster that cooks eggs.
But let's ignore that toaster that cooks eggs (for all I know, now that my readers have learned of its existence, they're going to run right out and buy one, assuming they can find a store to sell it to them) in favor of contemplating the people who buy things like iPads and kindles. Some of these people are buying kindles because it really is cheaper, but even many of those people got pushed over the edge by a gift (me) or because of the massive storage hassle that paper books present (I will stipulate that the storage hassle of paper books presents somewhere after book 1000 that you would like to have available. So if your books don't provoke you with their physical presence and you have less than 1000 books, I am not interested in anything you have to contribute on this point.). If the iPad truly is a better experience, a lot of us have Christmas, birthdays and other gift-giving opportunities coming up. The same person who gave us the kindle might well proffer an iPad. Even if we were buying it for ourselves, if we could really justify the kindle on cost savings, we can probably afford an iPad, too -- it's not like we're starving artists in a loft somewhere (those would be the people who have iPhones and worry about the cost of their data plan).
I like apple products -- I'm typing this on a MacBook. I've downloaded the kindle software for the Mac (which is okay, but longform reading on an emissive screen sucks just like it always has -- but that sync feature is _nice_!). I'll probably buy an iPad (assuming someone doesn't give me one.). If I don't buy an iPad, it'll be because I can't play my facebook games on it because it doesn't support flash.
That's the real rock in David's slingshot. Only I'm not sure it's aimed at Amazon.