After some discussion with friends, a couple clarifications on Kindle:
I think it will fail,1 because it is too expensive a device to buy with little to no free content. Many people were happy spending several hundred dollars on mp3 players, because once they bought the device, they could put all the music they already possessed on the device for free. No such luck here- can’t put on your existing books on it, can’t reliably put pdfs on it, etc., which means you have to make a substantial additional investment, above and beyond $400, before it has value.
I would like for it to fail because I’d prefer to see a device succeed that wasn’t tied to a particular book-providing service (yay competition and choice), and that allowed me to use books I’ve paid for like books I own instead of like strictly controlled rentals. Unfortunately, it is exactly these compromises that give Amazon excellent access to the publishing industry and what looks like a very polished, integrated user experience, so I don’t expect these to actually cause failure for a long time, if ever.
- for certain versions of fail- someone compared it to a Zune- might sell a few hundred thousand, but won’t change the industry. That sounds about right to me. [↩]