Fast Company

Kindle: Amazon's iPod Killer?

So the Kindle is clunky. It comes only in white. And it is several times bigger than most portable devices we carry (phone, Blackberry, camera, iPod, etc). That's three strikes right there. But the Kindle does one thing really well, it allows you to read a book virtually wherever and whenever you want save a completely dark room (there is no back-light). I doubt I would have ever bought the Kindle myself at $399, but as a gift it's been a blessing and now I would buy one. Sold.

Why? Because as much as I love bookstores, getting to one is not always convenient and getting the right book, say at the airport, is not always possible. But more than that, the Kindle does something that's harder to measure than just convenience. Just as the iPod encourages music consumption, the Kindle encourages a reader to buy more books (and newspaper and magazine subscriptions).

Living in New York City and already burdened with a "portable" computer and relentless paper that must be carried day in and out, a book and or even a newspaper seems to get lost in the triage of loading up for the day. Books are heavy and there is never any guarantee that I will have time to read it or be in the mood to read that particular book. With the Kindle I can carry several books and my Wall Street Journal subscription, and surf the web wherever Sprint has service (virtually everywhere in the United States).

So how could the Kindle, a book reader, ever assault the iPod? Well, it already has an "experimental" music player that allows you to listen to music while you read (via headphones or through the speaker). And because of its large screen and full keyboard it can potentially have much more functionality than a current iPod. For instance, you wouldn't want to edit a Word document on the iPod screen.

And the Kindle could be a killer app with a very important demo. If the Kindle can find a way to load up all those textbooks that students drag around it will win this audience. And if that audience becomes Kindle-ized then the iPod has an issue. A big issue.

Buy one or at least try one. Amazon only has about 120,000 books in inventory at the moment, but I think we all see where this could go given Amazon's on-line inventory.

John N. Pasmore • New York, NY • Very.fm

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