Why Amazon Kindle 2.0 won't suck like 1.0

Remember my review of Amazon’s first Kindle? I thought it sucked. Almost all of my ire was aimed at its design. I couldn’t hold it or pass it to other people without it flipping pages and the UI looked like something Microsoft designed back in the late 1980s. In other words, it wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t very usable.

Of course that didn’t stop 500,000 from going out and buying one.

But this morning Amazon will announce version 2.0. I already ordered one. Why? Because the concept of the Kindle is really great.

But didn’t Google just release eBooks for mobile phones, and won’t that make Kindle irrelevant,” I can hear some of you asking.

I am very excited by Google’s eBook initiative and have it on my iPhone already and talked with one of the people who runs that team yesterday, but even she is excited about the Kindle. Here’s why:

1. The Kindle has a screen that can be read outdoors. I live a few blocks from a RItz and I love going down there and doing some reading by the ocean. My iPhone or laptops are totally unsatisfactory there. The Kindle rocks. Its screen is one that uses a new reflective technology which makes it work great on the beach.
2. My iPhone batteries already don’t last long enough and I save them for important stuff like, well, phone calls. The Kindle battery lasts a lot longer (I usually got more than eight hours when I had mine) so I can sit on the beach all day long and not worry that I’m using the battery in my phone which might keep me from getting an important call.
3. The Kindle is optimized for reading books. Its screen is about the same size as a book. My iPhone screen is too small to make reading really long passages of text comfortable.
4. With the Kindle there will be more first run new books available for Kindle because of Amazon’s deep relationships with the book publishing industry and also because the Kindle has a very good way for the industry to monetize — you can buy a new book over the Kindle’s wireless technology in just a minute or two.

So, why won’t it suck like version 1.0 did? Easy. I’ve seen the leaked photos and it is clear that they’ve put some thought into how people will hold it and hand it around. I’m also expecting a major UI update because they aren’t using the same navigation device that the first one did. Plus, I met Jeff Bezos last year and while he clearly didn’t like my first review it was also clear that he had listened and heard the criticism and went back to the drawing board with his team.

Over at FastCompany.com we have someone over at the announcement this morning and will post an update there as soon as it gets published. I will again do a review of the new Kindle as soon as it is in my hot little hands. From what I’m hearing, though, this will be a breakthrough device that is much more popular than the first version.

Comments

  1. I actually think the Kindle is misunderstood. It is great for reading books, but it sucks as a gadget. The thing it doesn’t have to be a gadget! That is just our bias. The great thing about the Kindle is that it disappears when you are reading a book. I don’t know any heavy reader that kept complaining about accidental touching of buttons, even though all of them noticed the problem at first.

  2. I actually think the Kindle is misunderstood. It is great for reading books, but it sucks as a gadget. The thing it doesn’t have to be a gadget! That is just our bias. The great thing about the Kindle is that it disappears when you are reading a book. I don’t know any heavy reader that kept complaining about accidental touching of buttons, even though all of them noticed the problem at first.

  3. Kindle 2.0 will be way much better but I am disappointed that Amazon chose to introduce color with Kindle 2.5 ( if you can call it). I hear the next device comes sometime in September so we shall see. By the way, where did you order Kindle 2.0? It’s not available on Amazon yet or is it? :)

  4. Kindle 2.0 will be way much better but I am disappointed that Amazon chose to introduce color with Kindle 2.5 ( if you can call it). I hear the next device comes sometime in September so we shall see. By the way, where did you order Kindle 2.0? It’s not available on Amazon yet or is it? :)

  5. panah: it’s a little-known secret that if you buy the Kindle 1.0 you will be first in line to buy the Kindle 2.0. I ordered one three weeks ago. I’ll let you know how it goes when it arrives.

  6. panah: it’s a little-known secret that if you buy the Kindle 1.0 you will be first in line to buy the Kindle 2.0. I ordered one three weeks ago. I’ll let you know how it goes when it arrives.

  7. Robert, I have heard that but I always thought Amazon would actually e-mail us Kindle 1.0 buyers. Now, you are well-connected, so you know better :) Does this mean the rest of us have to wait 20 weeks to get our new Kindles since people have been ordering them that early? Is this one of those situations where Amazon says Kindle 2.0 is out of stock till 2010… :)

  8. Robert, I have heard that but I always thought Amazon would actually e-mail us Kindle 1.0 buyers. Now, you are well-connected, so you know better :) Does this mean the rest of us have to wait 20 weeks to get our new Kindles since people have been ordering them that early? Is this one of those situations where Amazon says Kindle 2.0 is out of stock till 2010… :)

  9. I didn’t think V1 sucked — though admittedly there were things that could be done better. However, for an electronic device to get and read long-form content it was and is pretty great, I think. Mr Octavio’s comment is spot on — the minor issues fade behind the reading experience. I do expect the 2.0 version to improve on some of the compromises that the Kindle team needed to make for the first version. I can’t wait to (possibly?) order one this morning.

    It doesn’t seem to me that books on a phone (provided by Google, or even Amazon) really does anything to hurt the Kindle. It may do the opposite and broaden the market a bit and get pubs to open up and get more content in device readable formats. Then the Kindle will benefit. The Kindle will be a primary purpose device for a while — for that subset of people who read long-form content – books, journal articles, contracts, etc — but if you are in that subset nothing else comes close. But that’s ok — even the iPhone needs to be a phone first and do this function flawlessly. Otherwise it’s an iPod Touch with a calling option. And, given the problems the iPhone has as a phone, one could argue that the Kindle hits its design goal more closely than the iPhone (or the G1) does.

    (Full disclosure – I am quite biased on this topic as I happily worked at Amazon for many years, and closely with some of the Kindle teams. I am quite proud of the work those teams did.)

  10. I didn’t think V1 sucked — though admittedly there were things that could be done better. However, for an electronic device to get and read long-form content it was and is pretty great, I think. Mr Octavio’s comment is spot on — the minor issues fade behind the reading experience. I do expect the 2.0 version to improve on some of the compromises that the Kindle team needed to make for the first version. I can’t wait to (possibly?) order one this morning.

    It doesn’t seem to me that books on a phone (provided by Google, or even Amazon) really does anything to hurt the Kindle. It may do the opposite and broaden the market a bit and get pubs to open up and get more content in device readable formats. Then the Kindle will benefit. The Kindle will be a primary purpose device for a while — for that subset of people who read long-form content – books, journal articles, contracts, etc — but if you are in that subset nothing else comes close. But that’s ok — even the iPhone needs to be a phone first and do this function flawlessly. Otherwise it’s an iPod Touch with a calling option. And, given the problems the iPhone has as a phone, one could argue that the Kindle hits its design goal more closely than the iPhone (or the G1) does.

    (Full disclosure – I am quite biased on this topic as I happily worked at Amazon for many years, and closely with some of the Kindle teams. I am quite proud of the work those teams did.)

  11. I’m *amazed* you’re only getting 8 hours out of the battery, what are you doing with the device that it is draining the battery so quickly (is it the cell connection that it draining the battery?).

    I don’t have a Kindle, rather a CyBook GEN 3 (another e-ink device) and I cannot think of how long it takes to drain the battery between charges (as I know you know that the device really only draws power between page turns).

    I’m hoping that the UK will get the Kindle, the killer feature for me is the newspaper subscription that you can just setup once and forget about, my Cybook allows you to subscribe to RSS feeds but it requires a manual sync with my pc to get it working and, subsequently, I don’t use it at all.

  12. I’m *amazed* you’re only getting 8 hours out of the battery, what are you doing with the device that it is draining the battery so quickly (is it the cell connection that it draining the battery?).

    I don’t have a Kindle, rather a CyBook GEN 3 (another e-ink device) and I cannot think of how long it takes to drain the battery between charges (as I know you know that the device really only draws power between page turns).

    I’m hoping that the UK will get the Kindle, the killer feature for me is the newspaper subscription that you can just setup once and forget about, my Cybook allows you to subscribe to RSS feeds but it requires a manual sync with my pc to get it working and, subsequently, I don’t use it at all.

  13. Any news on how 2.0 will render technical books? I would be all over it if I can read programming books. Beats carrying 10-12 books where ever I go. Sure I can read them on the laptop, but I want something smaller with better battery life (8.0+ hours works for me).

  14. Any news on how 2.0 will render technical books? I would be all over it if I can read programming books. Beats carrying 10-12 books where ever I go. Sure I can read them on the laptop, but I want something smaller with better battery life (8.0+ hours works for me).

  15. Why would you need a Kindle if you have a iPod or iTouch? Shouldn’t there be a killer app available for these two devices for subscription reading of books, magazines and newspapers?

    The only drawback to the iPod/Touch as device for this kind of reading is the small size.

    But really, how many devices are we going to settle on in the future? A laptop size device, tablet (Kindle size) and then a phone?

  16. Why would you need a Kindle if you have a iPod or iTouch? Shouldn’t there be a killer app available for these two devices for subscription reading of books, magazines and newspapers?

    The only drawback to the iPod/Touch as device for this kind of reading is the small size.

    But really, how many devices are we going to settle on in the future? A laptop size device, tablet (Kindle size) and then a phone?

  17. Why Kindle 2.0 Already Sucks (besides the obvious reason that Scoble likes it)

    1. Price. Geeeepers, can get a XBox 360/PS3 or Asus 1000HE for that bite. In this economy, only a few will ever find the remotest of justification. True even for the PRS-700.
    2. Bad build quality. It’s still a toy, Fisher Price better suited. Its no metallic Sony Reader, get some real OEM design, Amazon.
    3. Amazon DRM lock-in de jour. Can overcome with hoop-jumping tricks and the most-excellent Calibre. But what average user is going to bother? $9.99 nickel and dime you to death.
    4. No native PDF? They nuts? Yes they are.
    5. Who really (outside of a few weirdo geeks) really needs to be hooked up to Sprint 3G on an eBook reader device? This is not a phone.
    6. No reading light and no touch-screen (Sony PRS-700 has such)
    7. Nonremovable battery

    CyBook, iRex and Sonys are much better devices, Amazon just adds 3G as a lock-in concept, giving you a toy of an eBook reader. But the price points on the entire sector will limit adoption, that said, I love my 505 and 700. My beef be that Amazon is ruining the entire eBook-concept brand, iconically trainwrecked as it is.

  18. Why Kindle 2.0 Already Sucks (besides the obvious reason that Scoble likes it)

    1. Price. Geeeepers, can get a XBox 360/PS3 or Asus 1000HE for that bite. In this economy, only a few will ever find the remotest of justification. True even for the PRS-700.
    2. Bad build quality. It’s still a toy, Fisher Price better suited. Its no metallic Sony Reader, get some real OEM design, Amazon.
    3. Amazon DRM lock-in de jour. Can overcome with hoop-jumping tricks and the most-excellent Calibre. But what average user is going to bother? $9.99 nickel and dime you to death.
    4. No native PDF? They nuts? Yes they are.
    5. Who really (outside of a few weirdo geeks) really needs to be hooked up to Sprint 3G on an eBook reader device? This is not a phone.
    6. No reading light and no touch-screen (Sony PRS-700 has such)
    7. Nonremovable battery

    CyBook, iRex and Sonys are much better devices, Amazon just adds 3G as a lock-in concept, giving you a toy of an eBook reader. But the price points on the entire sector will limit adoption, that said, I love my 505 and 700. My beef be that Amazon is ruining the entire eBook-concept brand, iconically trainwrecked as it is.

  19. I saw a kindle once in a shop. It looked nice, but when would I ever need 200 books at the same time? It takes me 3 or 4 days to read a book, so a paperback is fine. There is no need to have kindle with 200 books on it. After 4 days I am happy to put my book back on the shelf and while I am there I can pick up my next book.

  20. I saw a kindle once in a shop. It looked nice, but when would I ever need 200 books at the same time? It takes me 3 or 4 days to read a book, so a paperback is fine. There is no need to have kindle with 200 books on it. After 4 days I am happy to put my book back on the shelf and while I am there I can pick up my next book.

  21. I love the idea of the Kindle but looks like the v2 has the same problems that put me off getting the v1:

    - annoying flash to black on the screen on every page transition. I’m sure they’ve spent millions of dollars proving it makes for a better experience but I hated it when I played with one.

    - DRM. I have no problem with DRM to protect Amazons revenue and the authors income but not at the expense of fair use. With a Kindle can I share a book with my wife? Can I lend it to a friend? Can I give it away? Can I trade it at a book exchange?

    The other roadblock for me is the lack of authors like Iain M Banks, William Gibson and Terry Pratchett … without them the Kindle is much less interesting to me.

    It also seems a bit cheeky to charge me to translate a Word doc and sync it over the air when the device has a USB connection but I guess I can’t begrudge them a few pennies.

  22. I love the idea of the Kindle but looks like the v2 has the same problems that put me off getting the v1:

    - annoying flash to black on the screen on every page transition. I’m sure they’ve spent millions of dollars proving it makes for a better experience but I hated it when I played with one.

    - DRM. I have no problem with DRM to protect Amazons revenue and the authors income but not at the expense of fair use. With a Kindle can I share a book with my wife? Can I lend it to a friend? Can I give it away? Can I trade it at a book exchange?

    The other roadblock for me is the lack of authors like Iain M Banks, William Gibson and Terry Pratchett … without them the Kindle is much less interesting to me.

    It also seems a bit cheeky to charge me to translate a Word doc and sync it over the air when the device has a USB connection but I guess I can’t begrudge them a few pennies.

  23. @Offbeatmammal

    Only your first and second objections (the page change) seem to stand. You can only share books with Kindles associated to your account. My wife has her kindle associated with my account (means I have to share my password with her). This is far from ideal. DRM sucks and it is useless. When Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother came out I ended buying the Kindle edition because it was the fastest way to get to the book, even though I knew I could have it in PDF or Kindle format in days (if not hours).

    You can translate word or PDF documents for free. They just get to your computer instead to directly to the Kindle. The charge is for wireless delivery (optional).

    As for your favorite authors (which we share)… Iain M. Banks has 6 books in Kindle format, William Gibson has 10, while Pratchett has 39. Perhaps not all in there but enough, no? and it seems that the newer the book the more likely it is in there.

  24. @Offbeatmammal

    Only your first and second objections (the page change) seem to stand. You can only share books with Kindles associated to your account. My wife has her kindle associated with my account (means I have to share my password with her). This is far from ideal. DRM sucks and it is useless. When Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother came out I ended buying the Kindle edition because it was the fastest way to get to the book, even though I knew I could have it in PDF or Kindle format in days (if not hours).

    You can translate word or PDF documents for free. They just get to your computer instead to directly to the Kindle. The charge is for wireless delivery (optional).

    As for your favorite authors (which we share)… Iain M. Banks has 6 books in Kindle format, William Gibson has 10, while Pratchett has 39. Perhaps not all in there but enough, no? and it seems that the newer the book the more likely it is in there.

  25. While I have great faith in the e-Ink technology, I’m not convinced Kindle 2 will take off with the mass market any more than the Kindle 1 did. This is an upgrade, not a needle mover.

    The problem is not in the device itself, it’s in the positioning. They need to drop the price and target students or travellers, or some other more focused use case. This “bookcase replacement” they are going for right now isn’t going to resonate with people.

  26. While I have great faith in the e-Ink technology, I’m not convinced Kindle 2 will take off with the mass market any more than the Kindle 1 did. This is an upgrade, not a needle mover.

    The problem is not in the device itself, it’s in the positioning. They need to drop the price and target students or travellers, or some other more focused use case. This “bookcase replacement” they are going for right now isn’t going to resonate with people.

  27. I think a lot of these posts are missing one of the killer apps on the new kindle. Text to voice.

    My father, grew up in an age where having dyslexia made you slow and illiterate rather than just needing some extra help to overcome the challenges. I have ordered a kindle 2 for him as it will give him a way to access the knowledge and stories he has always wanted to experience. I have gotten him several books on tape or CD over the years and he enjoys them, but they are much more difficult to work with and they don’t give you the words to follow along. Also many books are abridged horribly or you just can’t find them. So often I have been telling my father about some amazing sci-fi book that I know he will love, only to find out there is no recording of it available, I now have a way to share it with him. This new feature on the device has the ability to change someone who has always had a difficult time reading life very different. I look forward to reading a book on the beach with my father when he visits me this summer.

  28. I think a lot of these posts are missing one of the killer apps on the new kindle. Text to voice.

    My father, grew up in an age where having dyslexia made you slow and illiterate rather than just needing some extra help to overcome the challenges. I have ordered a kindle 2 for him as it will give him a way to access the knowledge and stories he has always wanted to experience. I have gotten him several books on tape or CD over the years and he enjoys them, but they are much more difficult to work with and they don’t give you the words to follow along. Also many books are abridged horribly or you just can’t find them. So often I have been telling my father about some amazing sci-fi book that I know he will love, only to find out there is no recording of it available, I now have a way to share it with him. This new feature on the device has the ability to change someone who has always had a difficult time reading life very different. I look forward to reading a book on the beach with my father when he visits me this summer.

  29. I think that the Kindle project is an interesting one, even if there are some flows in it that reduces its potential:

    a) there is no international support, only US customers can get one or at least can access to Amazon’s 3G wireless network – no wifi, no PC to internet connection;

    b) the price tag, with such a price tag Amazon, imho, had to open to other publishers the opportunity to publish content to kindle;

    c) no API, the Kindle simply is a closed thing on wich no one but Amazon can earn money on. This, like the iPod can be a good thing, but iPhone teached us that a platform gets new customers and new revenue lines. Integrating in certain way the Kindle on the Amazon Cloud services can get them much more opportunities and ways it can be used even in, just one, the enterprises not only for consumers.

  30. I think that the Kindle project is an interesting one, even if there are some flows in it that reduces its potential:

    a) there is no international support, only US customers can get one or at least can access to Amazon’s 3G wireless network – no wifi, no PC to internet connection;

    b) the price tag, with such a price tag Amazon, imho, had to open to other publishers the opportunity to publish content to kindle;

    c) no API, the Kindle simply is a closed thing on wich no one but Amazon can earn money on. This, like the iPod can be a good thing, but iPhone teached us that a platform gets new customers and new revenue lines. Integrating in certain way the Kindle on the Amazon Cloud services can get them much more opportunities and ways it can be used even in, just one, the enterprises not only for consumers.