Can anyone stop this man?

Amazon Web Services evangelist, Jeff Barr

Who is this?

It’s Jeff Barr. Amazon’s Web Services evangelist hanging out in front of Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle, Washington, USA. Here’s his blog.

So, why was over interviewing him today (my interview will be up on March 3)?

Because he’s asking enterprises to do something pretty darn revolutionary: turn off their data centers.

I can hear you now: “oh, Scoble, first you cry at Microsoft and now you have the gall to tell me that enterprises are going to move lots of their data from their own data centers and host it on Amazon’s services. You’ve really lost it this time.”

If you’re thinking this you’d be wrong. Not only are small companies like Mogulus and SmugMug moving their data onto Amazon’s services, but so are quite a few enterprises (Mogulus, in fact, stores all of its data on Amazon’s servers and brags that it doesn’t own a single server). I keep hearing about Amazon’s services being used in larger enterprises, but so far haven’t found too many that are willing to go on the record except for the New York Times, which used Amazon’s S3 to host its archives. But this movement is definitely underway.

Unfortunately getting Amazon to open up about how many companies are using Amazon’s Web Services is almost as hard as getting Steve Jobs to tell you about the next iPod.

There’s a good reason for this. Microsoft, Google, Sun Microsystems, IBM, and others are totally asleep and Jeff Bezos and Jeff Barr have no good reason to poke those other companies with a sharp stick so they wake up to what’s really going on here.

But it don’t matter anyway. It’s almost too late for the others to get into the game. It’s amazing (or maybe it should be “amazoning”) to me that Ray Ozzie over at Microsoft has let Amazon have so much runway.

So, I ask you, can anyone stop Jeff Barr and Amazon from totally taking over the corporate data infrastructure market?

UPDATE: Maybe Amazon has its own answer to my question. The Amazon Web Services were down for a few hours this morning for the first time I can remember.

Kindle unboxing

Well, this won’t get me a job at Engadget but here goes, my Amazon Kindle just showed up and I took video of the unboxing. It’s a lot smaller and lighter than I remembered (I saw a prototype more than six months ago) and it’s cute! I gotta put it next to an iPhone next.

I’ve only had it open about 10 minutes so far and one thing I notice I don’t like is the flashing as you turn pages. I’ll do a video of that so you can see what I mean.

The text, though, is a LOT nicer to read than on my laptop screen. At least in my upstairs office where things are nice and bright.

I’m going to go down to the Ritz and take some videos to show you why this is a lot better than a laptop or cell phone screen for reading text, though. Be back in a little while.

I’m having dinner with Mike Arrington of TechCrunch. It’ll be interesting to see what he thinks of his.

UPDATE: one nice thing is it comes personalized to your Amazon account so you can instantly buy a book and start using it without putting in any personal information. That’s wicked cool.

Amazon Reader Hate

Seth Godin: “You won’t find me on Amazon’s new book reader.”

Rex Hammock: “I’d rather have an iPod Touchbook.”

Mathew Ingram: WTF?

Jeremy Toeman: It will fail.

My thoughts?

That Jeremy is probably right. I’m excited about the new reader to be sure. But getting geeks like me excited by a new “shiny toy” is pretty easy. Getting a large market excited? That’s a LOT harder.

Why am I excited by this? Because it brings some very real advances to devices. Is it too expensive? For many people, yes. But one thing I’ve learned is that if something in the technology industry is too expensive today just stay alive for a few years. I remember when Steve Wozniak had a color printer that cost $40,000 that today’s $70 printers are better than.

For $400 this device is pretty damn remarkable. It can be read out in bright sunlight (my $3,000 Mac can’t do that). Its battery lasts dozens of hours. It’s a joy to use for the stated purpose: reading.

I do agree with Seth and Mathew: I really wish they had found a way to give away a stack of books and other content (including blogs). I told them almost the exact same thing Seth did and, yes, my words were just as unsuccessful at hitting the mark.

That said, even if Jeff Bezos turns out to be a failure here this device will push the market simply by getting you all to consider a world where you read your books off of a screen rather than off of paper. To me that’s interesting.

One other thing I told the team? Get Google Reader onto this thing. In fact, I tried to get my link blog onto it instead of just my blog (and I pitched them to include TechMeme, Digg, and Slashdot, among others, on it). We’ll see later today what they decided, but I don’t think they got the link blog onto it.

Amazon does yet another thing Microsoft wanted to do (my April Fools turns out to be true)

Newsweek has the scoop. I’m held by NDA until tomorrow.

But, I know that the Sony Reader was an object of Bill Gates’ attention. He wanted to do one of his own. It’s maddening to me that Microsoft hasn’t been able to turn its Tablet PC team into a team that can build a world-class device like this.

All I’ll say until tomorrow is you gotta try this device. It’s not perfect, but for long-form reading it is a wonderful device. I am going to buy one of my own. It’d really be great to have on our trip to Europe for the plane ride next month cause my Mac’s batteries only last two hours each (I have two of them) and the flight is 10 hours.

Oh, and you should go back and read my April Fool’s joke on April 1 of this year. In that joke I predicted a device that almost matches Amazon’s new reader almost word-for-word.

The comments there are HILLARIOUS to read in comparison to today’s news. Here’s some of the funnier ones:

JR writes: “This is so implausible that you should have waited a few hours to post it. That way you could at least claim it as an April Fool’s joke.”

Adrian writes: “Took me a while though, maybe halfway down the post. You should have stopped at “Much easier than going to Borders and picking up a physical copy.” Um, it IS easier to use than going down to Borders and picking up a physical copy.

Mike writes: “Nice story, Robert, but no one takes a product to Half Moon Bay to use it in sunlight.” Um, this device is the first screen I’ve used (Sony Reader uses a similar screen) that works BETTER in sunlight than in low light. And it’s sunny out in Half Moon Bay right now. It’s not ALWAYS foggy here!

Evan writes: “Man, you clearly have no idea how to tell a proper lie.” Well, that’s true cause now it’s a lot closer to reality than a made-up story.

Tom writes: “Not being an Apple fan I did not catch the little clues. But I was about to become one. If Apple is smart they’ll make this product. After all, you’ve created the demand at no cost to them.” My April Fools joke was actually a prediction that Apple would do this. Turned out that Amazon did it first and did a kick-ass job on it.

Dave writes: “I was right with you up until the “tiny balls” part.” Um, you do realize that that’s EXACTLY how the Sony and Amazon Reader’s screen works, right?

Michael writes: “Critique: I prefer a post of this genre to to hew closer to the line of plausability. This one piled the doo doo higher and higher till it collapsed of its own weight.” Heheh, well, now Michael, what do you think? Nearly everything in my April Fools’ joke came true, albeit from Amazon.

polyGeek writes: “Since Amazon almost always screws up and releases product information prematurely I’m sure they will have a purchase page for this April Fools iReader by noon today. :-)” Amazon actually was amazingly able to keep Apple-like secrecy on this project. Yeah, some pictures leaked, but not much else. There’s still some details to come tomorrow too.

Lena writes: “Chris Carfi just told me it was an April Fool’s joke. But, seriously, I want this product. I’m bummed.” Now you can have it!

Anyway, talk to you tomorrow.

Amazon's Kindle?

Amazon is said to be releasing its new “Kindle” eBook Reader on Monday.

I won’t be at the press conference. They asked me to be there, but I am turning down all travel. But, I have a LOT to say about this — I wish I could say more now. So, check back on Monday.