Monday, November 19, 2007

Amazon's Kindle (& Darabont's "The Mist")

I was going to write about Frank Darabont's film of King's The Mist, but it just got trumped for the lead. I saw the front bumper for The Charlie Rose Show on Jeff Bezos'/Amazon's "Kindle." Intro'd today via Newsweek's cover, it promises the future for digital reading.

As an avid reader, this thing sounds really cool, but a couple things worry me: (1) It's $400, and (2) It's still too big.

So, given Moore's Law, price should fall. Size? Well, hopefully they did their focus groups.

But let's give Bezos/Amazon the bennie of a doubt here. Let's assume mass-traction happens. What are the implications?

The obvious things that Bezos cites (saving trees, ready access to about 90K books and no doubt growing, publishers not having to guess at book runs...) are cool. What I'm interested in knowing is will this open up the barriers to entry for indie writers in the same way that MP3s and portable players (no people, believe it or not, Stevie Jobs did not invent the MP3 player) did for music? That's not just a tech question, that's a business question. In other words, having the technology's one thing, but having access to it as a distribution platform is quite another. Bezos seems like a cool enough guy. So time'll tell.

There's also a difference maker here in that unlike music and unless you have bank, books are a muthaphuka to digitize. However, contemporary writers (I'm factoring out the Luddites) write on computers, so their stuff's already digital. So, score one for the current crop. (Boring note: Truth is, any analog media is a bitch to digitize.)

With that stuff out of the way, something Bezos said stuck out:

How do I know that we have the best customer experience?
1. Price
2. Get it fast
3. Huge selection

I disagree; Amazon's customer experience is great because it is highly "intermational" - interactive and informational. (Well ain't I the clever marketing jerkoff?) One of the things I like to talk about to peeps when it comes to business is to find out what their customer experience was like. This is a big part of the reason that I think Yelp is far and away above other social networking sites.

And it's also why I think Amazon's retail experience is so satisfying, because before you know it you're knee deep in relevancy. Truth is, tons of consumer-oriented sites give you recommendations, but Amazon was a pioneer in relevancy in regards to recommendations. Then they hit upon the idea of tying in your likes to those of others through their lists - thus, it became an intermational experience.

That's what Yelp has done by synergizing the social networking model with the intermational model of Amazon.

Bezos said that as tech advances that more power is being transferred to consumers. I think I know what he means, but we're still a long way from home insofar as the control of all this cool stuff, let alone a true democracy where young and old folks alike can have an equal chance of entrepreneuring their way to the next big thing.

ps: I haven't forgotten about Frank Darabont's The Mist. If, like me, you're a fan of suspense flicks, see The Mist. I'd planned on writing a diatribe on why this kind of flick blows movies like Saw or Hostel out of the water, but I'll spare y'all. Just check it out; a real popcorn movie. It's good.