On the street review of Kindle

I was on San Francisco State University’s campus this morning to give a talk when someone came up to me and wanted to see my Kindle. I’ve now shown it to dozens of people and the reactions are all pretty similar. I have started filming these reactions so you can see how people react when they first get their hands on it.

Why was I so harsh on it? Because of conversations just like this one.

Notice that she accidentally hits the “next” button. That she tries to use it as a touch screen. That she is bugged by the refresh rate. But, she, like me, is interested enough to want to buy one (she’s the first that I’ve shown it to that has that reaction). Imagine if Amazon had designed it better? Imagine how many more people would want it.

Oh, and Slashdot.org linked to my harsh review and, boy, did that bring a lot of haters to my chat room.

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Comments

  1. “In digital music, despite Apple’s seemingly insurmountable lead, Amazon has shown its willingness to compete with Apple head on. With no apparent current interest in the market, could Apple be ceding the eBooks front to Amazon? If Apple were to compete, would it be wiser to build its eBook business on the iPhone or a new, larger and perhaps a more dedicated device?”

    I explored that and more in:

    Why is the new Kindle eBook reader from Amazon and not Apple?

  2. “In digital music, despite Apple’s seemingly insurmountable lead, Amazon has shown its willingness to compete with Apple head on. With no apparent current interest in the market, could Apple be ceding the eBooks front to Amazon? If Apple were to compete, would it be wiser to build its eBook business on the iPhone or a new, larger and perhaps a more dedicated device?”

    I explored that and more in:

    Why is the new Kindle eBook reader from Amazon and not Apple?

  3. I’d definitely buy one of these if it was available in the EU. I usually carry around 2 or 3 books and this is smaller, lighter and has a pretty good battery life.

    I honestly couldn’t care less how it looks.

  4. I’d definitely buy one of these if it was available in the EU. I usually carry around 2 or 3 books and this is smaller, lighter and has a pretty good battery life.

    I honestly couldn’t care less how it looks.

  5. Without reading the article reference in the first comment, I think that the new Kindle eBook reader is from Amazon and not Apple because of the relationships that Amazon has with book publishers compared with virtually any other book seller. It takes time to build relationships (especially when the content in many cases is fairly easy to pirate, copyrighted content). Amazon’s strength in managing and moving content of all types from product reviews to e-commerce transactions, to its Web Services Unit (EC2 and S3 services for example) make it even more understandable to me.

    I think that this will help overall book sales (especially books like Robert Scoble’s and Shel Israel’s Naked Conversations, which contains almost all black and white text). Just look at what Apple did for music as a whole with regard to actual number of tracks sold compared to tracks sold (even when incuding physical CDs) prior to the Apple Store and the iPod.

    The book I recently finished has hundreds of color photos and screen shots from Photoshop and other apps, so the experience won’t be the same on the Kindle.

    I am curious how the web surfing experience is overall. I need to read more reviews or try one for myself.

    Andrew Darlow
    Editor, The Imaging Buffet
    http://www.imagingbuffet.com

  6. Without reading the article reference in the first comment, I think that the new Kindle eBook reader is from Amazon and not Apple because of the relationships that Amazon has with book publishers compared with virtually any other book seller. It takes time to build relationships (especially when the content in many cases is fairly easy to pirate, copyrighted content). Amazon’s strength in managing and moving content of all types from product reviews to e-commerce transactions, to its Web Services Unit (EC2 and S3 services for example) make it even more understandable to me.

    I think that this will help overall book sales (especially books like Robert Scoble’s and Shel Israel’s Naked Conversations, which contains almost all black and white text). Just look at what Apple did for music as a whole with regard to actual number of tracks sold compared to tracks sold (even when incuding physical CDs) prior to the Apple Store and the iPod.

    The book I recently finished has hundreds of color photos and screen shots from Photoshop and other apps, so the experience won’t be the same on the Kindle.

    I am curious how the web surfing experience is overall. I need to read more reviews or try one for myself.

    Andrew Darlow
    Editor, The Imaging Buffet
    http://www.imagingbuffet.com

  7. I think Apple probably wouldn’t want to build a reader on e-ink technology. It’s a fascinating type of display, but the extremely slow lag time probably necessitates too many design compromises for a slick experience. E-ink needs to figure out how to do more dynamic drawing so that UI highlights, text entry, and other basic effects are doable. Otherwise, it’s just too limiting for designing a slick UI. And Apple is all about slick.

  8. I think Apple probably wouldn’t want to build a reader on e-ink technology. It’s a fascinating type of display, but the extremely slow lag time probably necessitates too many design compromises for a slick experience. E-ink needs to figure out how to do more dynamic drawing so that UI highlights, text entry, and other basic effects are doable. Otherwise, it’s just too limiting for designing a slick UI. And Apple is all about slick.

  9. Robert,

    I was a big fan of your work at Microsoft. I worked there previously before Amazon. I think you’ve lost sight of what made you good- just an modest, excited, honest, geeky blogger. Now you’ve changed to someone demanding that “so and so” who did this should be fired, “so and so” that shouldn’t get a raise this year, etc, etc. It’s a sensationalist, propaganda route, much in the vein of Dvorak targeting Apple and Microsoft to generate page hits.

    I’ve never touched a Kindle, but as I understand it, it’s a V1 device, and currently the best at what it does on the market. You need to step back a bit, be more honest about what it does well as well as what it does badly, and stop the “fire these people” propaganda to generate page hits. You’re selling out.

    You do have many good ideas, too. I hope they’re listened to despite your inappropriately harsh tone.

  10. Robert,

    I was a big fan of your work at Microsoft. I worked there previously before Amazon. I think you’ve lost sight of what made you good- just an modest, excited, honest, geeky blogger. Now you’ve changed to someone demanding that “so and so” who did this should be fired, “so and so” that shouldn’t get a raise this year, etc, etc. It’s a sensationalist, propaganda route, much in the vein of Dvorak targeting Apple and Microsoft to generate page hits.

    I’ve never touched a Kindle, but as I understand it, it’s a V1 device, and currently the best at what it does on the market. You need to step back a bit, be more honest about what it does well as well as what it does badly, and stop the “fire these people” propaganda to generate page hits. You’re selling out.

    You do have many good ideas, too. I hope they’re listened to despite your inappropriately harsh tone.

  11. I’d say enough with Kindle, but no matter, in time you will get bored, onto the next cool-kids shiny thing or shiny meme. Nature will out.

    But the really insufferable ones, however, are the Windows Mobile Pocket PC’ers, going on and on, about some new foreign limited-run PDA device that no will be able to get, except them, because they are so very special. The Palm people, I just pity.

  12. I’d say enough with Kindle, but no matter, in time you will get bored, onto the next cool-kids shiny thing or shiny meme. Nature will out.

    But the really insufferable ones, however, are the Windows Mobile Pocket PC’ers, going on and on, about some new foreign limited-run PDA device that no will be able to get, except them, because they are so very special. The Palm people, I just pity.

  13. Greg: fair enough. It’s interesting that I’ve put up six videos about the Kindle. But the one with me going all apoplectic and all got 10x more visits and 20x more links.

    If you do professional work and no one pays attention is it really professional? Does it matter?

    I notice that over on ScobleShow.com we put up a video every day — most of which are very professional — but it’s a rare one that gets onto Slashdot, Digg, TechMeme, or linked to by other blogs.

    So, we as media consumers (and producers) get what we want: entertainment. Even if it’s combined with an inappropriately harsh tone.

  14. Greg: fair enough. It’s interesting that I’ve put up six videos about the Kindle. But the one with me going all apoplectic and all got 10x more visits and 20x more links.

    If you do professional work and no one pays attention is it really professional? Does it matter?

    I notice that over on ScobleShow.com we put up a video every day — most of which are very professional — but it’s a rare one that gets onto Slashdot, Digg, TechMeme, or linked to by other blogs.

    So, we as media consumers (and producers) get what we want: entertainment. Even if it’s combined with an inappropriately harsh tone.

  15. [...] Scoble ran an interview on the street with a woman who wanted to see his Kindle while he was giving a talk at Stanford.  I came away from the interview with a slightly different reaction than I think Scoble and others may have.  There is a view that Kindle’s foibles are disasterous, but I’m not at all convinced.  Scoble points out that this woman hit many of his complaints almost immediately: Notice that she accidentally hits the “next” button. That she tries to use it as a touch screen. That she is bugged by the refresh rate. But, she, like me, is interested enough to want to buy one (she’s the first that I’ve shown it to that has that reaction). Imagine if Amazon had designed it better? Imagine how many more people would want it. [...]

  16. Robert-

    Based on your harsh criticism of “they didn’t design it to hold”, I wondered what you thought of Julian’s comments here:

    http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/36063?from=30&comments_per_page=30

    “That evening I just read. The Kindle disappears, and I realize how important the design of the book is, and how strongly I disagree with so many web comments about it’s supposedly horrendous un-holdability. The instructions for the thing say that it’s designed to be used with the cover on (even though all of the marketing shows it with the cover off). Being a weak pawn, I tend to follow directions, and I can confirm that wiith the cover on, it’s extremely difficult to accidentally hit any buttons while reading, and the left hand spine becomes a natural handle. The super-matte surfaces of both the screen and the frame make it readable and un-distracting at any angle, in any light. The next page buttons on both sides make it usable in more positions than a normal book, and in no case does it ever require two hands to use.

    It is, in short, the most invisible piece of technology I can recall owning. This makes it supremely unsexy, and exactly right.”

    Have you tried it with the included cover on?

  17. Robert-

    Based on your harsh criticism of “they didn’t design it to hold”, I wondered what you thought of Julian’s comments here:

    http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/36063?from=30&comments_per_page=30

    “That evening I just read. The Kindle disappears, and I realize how important the design of the book is, and how strongly I disagree with so many web comments about it’s supposedly horrendous un-holdability. The instructions for the thing say that it’s designed to be used with the cover on (even though all of the marketing shows it with the cover off). Being a weak pawn, I tend to follow directions, and I can confirm that wiith the cover on, it’s extremely difficult to accidentally hit any buttons while reading, and the left hand spine becomes a natural handle. The super-matte surfaces of both the screen and the frame make it readable and un-distracting at any angle, in any light. The next page buttons on both sides make it usable in more positions than a normal book, and in no case does it ever require two hands to use.

    It is, in short, the most invisible piece of technology I can recall owning. This makes it supremely unsexy, and exactly right.”

    Have you tried it with the included cover on?

  18. BradC: I have tried the cover. It makes it a bit better in some instances (it makes it less likely you’ll accidentally hit the buttons), but when I’m home reading with Milan in my lap having the cover off makes it easier to use.

    I can see where he’s coming from. Once you get into a book it’s fairly nice. But the thing is damn uncomfortable to hold. You have to put your hands in places it’s not comfortable or natural. They really messed up on the design.

  19. BradC: I have tried the cover. It makes it a bit better in some instances (it makes it less likely you’ll accidentally hit the buttons), but when I’m home reading with Milan in my lap having the cover off makes it easier to use.

    I can see where he’s coming from. Once you get into a book it’s fairly nice. But the thing is damn uncomfortable to hold. You have to put your hands in places it’s not comfortable or natural. They really messed up on the design.