Sunday 24 January 2010

Changing the rules

I got a Kindle this weekend, and I am amazed. Not so much at the concept of an e-reader or the device itself, but at the way it connected to the mothership and warped me into Amazon world!

This slick machine comes with a 3G SIM built in, and Amazon pays for me to connect to the Kindle store and check out what's on offer. My imagination was captured when I fired up the Kindle and presto I was connected; then, with my current Amazon login and password I was registered in a few seconds. I kept wondering if the Kindle had picked up the hotspot... yes, at first I was quite boggled. After reading a bit and just playing around I figured out how this magic trick works, and I am still amazed! Like I said above, not so much about the device but at how the access works.

Google didn't invent search engines but their business model changed the rules of the game. I feel Amazon have made a rule changing move here! And the race is on; Sony have an e-reader device, and I believe that in the next week Apple are going to launch their new tablet, and and and...

The built-in Amazon-sponsored connectivity that comes with the Kindle opens up a whole world of possibilities. Imagine a new device, a couple of years from now, that acts as a portable on-demand DVD player - now that will be a story! Or, when the iPod allows you to connect to the iTunes store just like that, without having to sync up to a PC. Yes, the imagination can run wild here!

I have a lot of actuarial friends and I studied actuarial science when I was an under-grad, and I am sure the actuaries will tell you that Amazon's move here is not so much a bold technical move as it is a calculated financial equation. Imagine if the local mall sent a shuttle to pick you up and drop you, even if you didn't commit to buying anything. The shuttle picks you up and drops you back home, whenever you feel like it, and the mall pays for the transport costs, and you just only browse... but eventually you will buy something.

I am sure the Kindle doesn't take up a lot of bandwidth on that small grey-scale screen, and I am pretty sure that at least one in five purchase something from the Kindle store. Yes, Amazon have done the math, and I think their calculated move here is going to bare a lot of juicy fruit!

One thing that is really intriguing is that the Kindle has web browsing capabilities and on the Amazon site they say this is in prototype phase. Whatever these smart folk are planning, I am going to be watching with keen interest. If the Kindle starts to allow general Internet functionality then won't this be a challenger to something like BlackBerry?

Wow, the world is going to change even faster!

BTW, I got my Kindle from our shop - these things are selling like hot cakes. Hmmm, one don't we just sell hot cakes. Cos they would sell like... well, you know where this comes from.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker