Tag Archives: iTunes

The Kindle Fire is a great second tablet

My friend Jeffry sent me a Kindle Fire last week. He’s awesome! You should check out his Flex components if you’re a flex/AIR developer looking for some awesome turn key components. Ok that said, he sent me a kindle Fire.

I’ve been a Kindle owner since the K2 came out, and I paid almost $400 for it. I dropped it one morning and busted the screen, and bought a K3 for 1/3 the price of my K2, and I love it. It’s light, easy to use and great at the one thing it does, display words on a readable screen. Continue reading

So an Amazon Tablet huh

Thought I’d take a minute to weigh in on the whole Amazon Kindle tablet thing now the buzz and punditry has kinda died down.

I’m interested, but still skeptical. I DO however LOVE my kindle 3 lest someone immediately jump to “Hater”

The touch model is uninteresting, I don’t see value in an e-ink touch screen. Even with improved refresh rate and such, I just don’t see a long term usability there. Add on the whole, “touch in the middle for menu, touch on the sides to change pages” thing, i just don’t see the use. in the long run. Typing might not suck completely but I’m guessing it’s not awesome.

The one with the D-pad but no keyboard. Ok but i think it’ll be only slightly useful. If nothing else entering wifi credentials is gonna suck, and I assume it still has note making capability, which will get old fast hunting and pecking across an on-screen keyboard. I do like the look of it, very clean. While I love my keyboard when I need it, it’s a definite space waste 90% of the time I’m using my Kindle. That 10% however is huge. I don’t surf the web or tweet (who are these people that bitch about the browser ON THEIR E-READER. YOu guys are doing it wrong) but I make lots of notes. Sometimes I share those notes out, most of the time I don’t. But I take lots of notes when I’m reading non-fiction. Since getting my K3 and seeing the shared highlights of others, it’s clear I’m not the only one. Tapping out a lengthy note to myself or observation on an on-screen keyboard that refreshes like e-ink… no thanks.

I hate typing my passwords on my AppleTV using the stupid remote, and dread when I need to do it on the PS3, all for the same reason. hunting and pecking via a direction pad is a terrible way to use a keyboard. So yeah the keyboard less one and the touch one likely will be huge to readers of fiction or those who see no value in adding any type of annotation. That’s not a criticism just an observation of usage.

Now the Nook color… oops the Kindle Fire I mean.

I don’t read on backlit things. I read way too much, and just can’t do it. I might read a page on my Xoom (kindle app) from time to time, but when it’s sit down and enjoy a book time, it’s not on a reflective backlit screen.

I love the size. The only thing RIM did right in the playbook in my opinion was the size. The OS was nice and had they executed in a way that in any way resembled a real world view of the market I have little doubt the playbook coulda been a real player. But that’s a different post. The size was great. It fit in my shorts pocket. My coat pocket, and the small outside pocket of my laptop bag(s). No I probably wouldn’t use it as an every day tablet for catching up on news feeds, or things like that. but for quickly reviewing email or twitter, for a quick (who am I kidding right) game of Angry Birds and such it’s perfect. The playbook had an incredible screen, I hope the Fire does too.

Watching things. My other big use case for any tablet is watching stuff. I’ll be leaving for Adobe MAX tomorrow and my Xoom is loaded with a movie or two and some episodes of TV I haven’t watched yet. Prior to the iPad and Xoom I watched stuff on my iPhone. The larger tablets are great, but my eyesight is fine, so a smaller screen is also cool. And the Playbook size screen i found to be just right. Not so heavy I get bored/tired of holding it up, and not so small I’m squinting to see the show. So I think the size of the Fire is a good choice and keeps it on my “I’m watching you” list. Had it been 10″ I probably wouldn’t care since I have the xoom. It does just fine.

Content is king. This applies over and over and you see things fail for this simple reason (cough RIM, HP, most android devices). Amazon unlike HP and android and RIM has content. It’s got amazon prime and cloud drive music. Remember why we all love our iDevices? The content and the ease of managing that content, and the ease of using that content. Amazon has a shot here. I thought HP did too, but frankly HP is clearly run by people who don’t get that it’s 2011 not 1992.

As Amazon adds more content to Prime, it gets more and more interesting to me. Since Netflix as a company is beginning to annoy me, I might just redirect my $ and attention to Amazon if they can get a bit more content. I know they compete but it’d be awesome if Amazon Prime VOD was added to AppleTV, that’d be a Netflix killer for me at least.

What wasn’t talked about and what I’ve said over and over in regards to Android vs. Apple user experience is the content management. Android is catching up a little with Google Music, etc but has a LONG way to go, and if your media isn’t in their cloud, it’s a PITA to get it on your Android device. Lock in… gotta love it. But if Amazon makes managing my on device content easy and seamless (even if it means a simple upload from iTunes to Amazon to download to device) way to manage the stuff on my tablet, well they may be the alternative to Apple that Android promised to be. Of course the Kindle aspect of the device much like the Nook aspect of the Nook Color, not at all interesting, but the device itself… hmm

Of course nothing at all was shown in relation to that type of thing which doesn’t fill me with warm fuzzies, BUT the Fire doesn’t even ship for 2 more months so…

So my haven’t-even-seen-or-touched-it-yet opinion. I’m cautiously optimistic. I didn’t pre-order anything and I’ll wait for some hands on reviews before I make an moves.

Did you pre-order? What’d you get?

iPad….. nice but not magical, yet (my Review)

So I’m writing this on my iPad. I’m not feeling the magic. (update, i had to save it so I could edit on my Macbook, else this post take would’ve taken 40 years to write)

Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty, but not useful. Yet.

And before you decide I’m just an Apple hater, let me lay out my credentials for those that don’t know me.

I own:

Unibody Macbook, 2 Minis, 3 iPods (including an iPod Photo), 2 iPhones, 1 iPad, 2 Airport Express, 1 Airport Extreme, my wife has a white plastic macbook.

I’ve Previously owned:

a Macbook Pro, Newton 110, Powerbook 510, Performa.  I think it’s safe to say my fanboi-ness is secure.

That out of the way.

The iPad is a very pretty device, and if your life (as some do) revolves around reading websites, watching videos, and …. well that’s it. Checking email I suppose too. Then the iPad is the perfect toy for you (albeit, for those simple tasks, the price IMO is a bit steep).

I tried. I didn’t write this review the night i got my iPad, I didn’t write it Sunday night, I waited and actually tried to do things I’d normally grab my Macbook for.

First I went up on my deck, to get some sun, and enjoy working outside. Since I was just gonna reply to a few emails, I grabbed the iPad.

  • While I enjoy seeing myself, i don’t want to watch my face as I type emails. That’s easily fixable though, so it’s not a knock. Why Apple is obsessed with uselessly glossy screens is beyond me.
  • First I tried holding it and typing with my thumbs. I prefer landscape mode, and have locked it in that orientation. I have big hands, so it’s quite possible, but not a long term thing. Then I set it in my lap, as many have proclaimed is the perfect use case… I got a sore neck. By this time I’d responded (lengthy responses sure) to two emails. Perhaps if I invested in a $40 (?) case from Apple that i could sit on our patio table, and use? Or buy a Bluetooth keyboard?
  • One email I needed to send an export of attendee data to. I couldn’t. The export is .xls of CSV. kudos to Mobile Safari for opening the .xls and showing me, but I needed to send it to some one. Sure the iPhone doesn’t support this, but if the iPad is a revolutionary bridge device between my iPhone and a laptop, I expect a few laptop like things to be there.
  • Of course since I can’t run two things at once, I had to close out mail.app mid compose to look up a discount code for a sponsor. Close mail, open safari, go to eventbrite, copy the code, close safari, open mail.app
  • Then I thought I’d take a break, check on my Kingdom and my weird little people on Planet Wilker. Thankfully the display is so crisp and bright, it overpowers (mostly) the sun, so i could actually enjoy those games.

Last night I went to a user group meeting, taking only my Mifi and my iPad.

  • The auto brightness doesn’t seem very responsive, so I was routinely blinded when loading something with a white screen in the darkened room. No biggy really, annoying a little, sure, but not a “Damn you Apple”
  • I had two tasks I was hoping to get done, or at least get started, while listening to the presentation. Write an email to attendees of 360|iDev (thru eventbrite.com’s email feature), and compose the last speaker email to speakers at 360|iDev using mailchimp. The result. FAIL. Both websites use HTML based text editors, apparently not the html web that Apple supports. Kinda crappy. Can’t use Flash, can’t use some HTML…
  • So I spent the UG meeting, not using my iPad except to occasionally tweet, and that was only because my iPhone was in my pocket

I’ve tried to replace some of the things I do on my iPhone and my laptop

  • I completely understand why Apple made the iPad support iPhone apps. It’s nice to launch and crow about 100k + apps. I have yet to use an iPhone app on the iPad that wasn’t completely and utterly fail. Why use it in 1x mode? I’ll just fire up my iPhone. In 2x mode, no app escapes the ugly tree. I understand the logic, but think Apple should have given developers more time to get their apps ready. I mean really, no facebook app? Hell, the mobileMe app… uh Apple. I know you want me to shell out $30 for the iWorks, but I’d love to be able to access my mobileMe account in a native iPad app, how about that?
  • I think the iPad will be much more interesting 3 months from now. Now that developers have an actual device to test with, those that (I can’t blame them) waited to actually use the device before building apps for it, will begin releasing apps. Right now the iPad app store is woe-fully anemic… well maybe not if you’re independently wealthy, and can afford every $9.99 app, LOL. Even then, there’s only a small list of apps I’m buying later, as I feel richer. Most of the apps I want, aren’t there.

Yeah Apple is about the experience, I agree, and sure surfing the web is very nice, if you only want to surf the web and consume. If you actually want to create… well so far the iPad hasn’t done much to support creation. I read one review that gushed and gushed about how awesome surfing the web is. OK sure, but I don’t spend my day complaining about surfing the web now.

So what do I like?

  • The feel of it. It’s a nice piece of equipment. The screen (once covered in a smudge/glare free cover) is awesome. Sure I’d like to not have letterboxing when I watch a movie but whatever, that’s a first world problem, and not that important to me.
  • The OS, it’s the iPhone OS, which while I wish wasn’t so closed off, and anti-hacker (Pro user), it’s an easy OS to understand.
  • The Apps. iPad apps, are nice. They use the screen really well. Those that will shine are the ones that didn’t simply recompile for the larger device.
  • The future potential. The iPad right now, for me is a cute toy that gets attention, and let’s me play a few games, and waste time. The iPad in 6 months, could seriously kick ass. There will be more apps that are useful, there will be (Please Apple, it’s kinda obvious) some way for me to work on files in mobileMe (or Googledocs) over the cloud. Screw this dragging files into iTunes, and back and forth. It’s 2010 Apple, you have a cloud storage service, that people are paying money for now. Tie that in to your devices!

What don’t I like? (and please, you don’t have to agree, I welcome your opinion, but if Apple makes you happy with what they deliver, don’t try to tell me what I should be happy too)

  • It’s a bit heavy. Not really a “Bad mark” but it’s not light.
  • The video app needs an update. Looking at my movies, it’s fine to see the thumbnail and name. Looking at TV shows. A thumbnail from an episode, isn’t helpful. I had 6 icons. Some Seinfeld, some Big Bang Theory. No labels. I had to open one up to see that it was the folder for a season of that show. I like the breakdown by season, that’s nice, but not having any visible clue, it’s like hunting around to find the show you want to watch.
  • The single port. This is totally an Apple thing, and I wasn’t surprised, that they’d only have a dock connector, and sell $29 things that plug into the dock connector. Doesn’t mean I think it’s ok.
  • The lack of Flash. I don’t actually miss Flash THAT much, because I’ve had my iPhone for a while. I think flash on the iPhone isn’t really a deal breaker. But the iPad is another device entirely. I expect on a media consumption tablet, that I could hit up Hulu, or youtube (fuck having a separate app, that’s lame), or any of the what? 80% of the web that uses flash to deliver content. It’s a business play pure and simple, and as a business person, I can’t find fault. As a consumer, hacker, and person who tries to see thru bull shit, I think it’s weak sauce. “Open Web”, my ass, it’s the “Apple Web”, and them trying to come off like it’s anything but a power grab, is disingenuous at best.
  • the iPad of now. If 360|iDev wasn’t the weak after iPadmas, I probably would have waited. It just doesn’t do anything I can’t do now with the tools I have. I don’t need “an semi-adequate alternative” I need a “solid replacement”… the iPad isn’t there.

Amazon sides with publishers, hurts future

Much like Jake, I’m not overly surprised by Amazon’s (my words) Bonehead move. We all knew the Kindle was DRM’ed up the ass.

I mean they already reached out and started disabling text to speach, so is reaching out and removing content that big a stretch of the imagination? Not really, sadly.

I am however sad that Amazon has sided with Publishers. This will definitely cost them a lot of goodwill capital they might have had. Where as simply telling the publisher they’d no longer sell the book, but that sold copies were out in the wild, would have won them uncountable good will. Publishers are expecting unrealistic things in eBooks. If a book is pulled from the shelves (A real dead tree book) the publisher has no expectation of getting copies back that are sold. How could they? Send book retrieval ninjas out to scour the globe?

Unfortunately Amazon has given them unreasonable power over consumers, so now books I’ve legally purchased, can be taken away from me. I wonder, what happens to my notes and markup? I mean i might have a great many valuable thoughts captured in the annotations of a book. If Amazon/the publisher decide I can no longer have that book, do they also get to take my annotations?

When I got my iPod i began stripping the DRM off my music. I left the identification markers on, because I believe that piracy is bad juju and since I knew I wouldn’t be doing it, I left the “This song was bought by Apple ID j_wilker” tag on all my music. I did remove the restrictions on what I can do with the songs though.

Apple finally came around and convinced the music industry to take their heads out of their asses and released iTunes Plus. I no longer have to fuss with stupid music DRM that restricts me unreasonably.

It appears I’ll be doing the same with my Kindle content. Amazon is welcome to sue me, I’d love for them to sue some one who’s not contributing to piracy, but simply doesn’t want their rights as a consumer violated.

I have no problem with eContent I purchase being tagged as purchased by me, so if it shows up in China  being mass marketed and sold, I can answer for that. but I really think Amazon has crossed the line, by allowing publishers to recall works, and modify existing works post sale.

John Birmingham lost a reader that way, and apparently many more will too. Maybe I’ll get back into the classics at Project Gutenburg.

The Creator of the eBook is wrong

I’ll admit, I had no idea who Michael Hart is. But he’s wrong. Over on the Project Gutenberg blog he says the eBook reader will never take off, and lists some reasons why, in his mind he’s correct. (I’m sure there’s no bias as the founder of PG) I’m going to debunk them based on my own world view. (Be warned, his list is long and wordy, even before I add my two cents)

There are several reasons people will not buy a dedicated eBook reader, and some of them a very powerful reasons that cannot be argued with via any intelligent reasoning rationality.

First: the new generations are used to screens the size of Nintendo GameBoys, grew up on them.

Not sure what generation he’s talking about. Sure my neice and nephew are both Nintendo DS freaks, but they have a real computer at home. My mom asked me if she should get an iPhone and stop having a computer, my answer was no. There’s no way I would sit for hours playing aroudn on the internet on an iPhone, I know my mom couldn’t. She’d be blind before the next iPhone was released. I don’t own a netbook, and I sold my Nokia N800. my iPod Touch and iPhone are both great, and both run the Kindle app, and I use neither.

Second: the new generations also think screens on cell phones are just fine, and most of those are now even larger.

I’d argue that “just fine” is more along the lines of don’t know any better. I’d also argue that when a kids gets in front of a netbook or laptop with a more usable display, with WAY better resolution, they’d feel the same way I do. iPhones rock for quick look up, waiting room internet goofing around, etc. but I’m not going to sit o my couch, with my iPhone up to my face to work through emails or tweets even.

Third: the new generations have always got the paperback editions as much as the hardbacks, so they don’t have the same nostalgia for Look And Feel of those as do people who stared reading a while before paperbacks became very acceptable.

Fourth, Fifth, etc. the alternatives. . . .

This is completely bunk. I’m one of those paperback generation types. I don’tbuy hardcovers unless I either a. can’t wait for the paperback or b. want to show off a nice hardbound book on my bookshelve and get a few +1 book geek cred points.

I love the feel and smell of books, even paperbacks. I’m sure scribes loved the feel and smell of parchment, and olden day mathameticians loved the feedl of abacas beads, and slide rules. Times change. To bring a more relevant example up. CDs, and DVDs. Many folks love to have them lined up nicely in huge shelves, they like to read the jackets, look at the cover art, absorb every iota of director commentary. Yet iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, et al. are still doing pretty darn good. Times change, and whether we all want to or not, we change with them, it’s kinda silly to think in 20 years books will be common place. They’ll be antiques.

Fourth: most people don’t realize it, but many cell phones also come with WiFi built in so the unit is basically a small Kindle to start with! You don’t even have to have the phone activated to use the WiFi functions, which usually have a pretty normal browser, text reader, and such in them to start with, and also accept any numbers of third party programs most eBook readers have already heard of, no need for me to pitch them.

Clearly Mr. Hart has never tried to exist on WiFi alone. It’s far from ubiquitous. Heck broadband penetration in the US is near the lowest in the world if I recall, what makes anyone think Wifi will be different. Sure Indie coffee shops offer free wifi, sometimes it’s craptastic or doesn’t even work, but ya it’s free. Other times you can prey on people who don’t know any better than to lock their AP down.

I actually started out thinking the same thing Mr. Hart does. I bought an iPod Touch, had no music on it, and it was my ‘baby tablet’ or as I called it my iNewton. I carried it everywhere for about a month, then I gave up as most places I went had no wifi.

Fifth: many PDAs are also available that do an awful lot of the same things described above at a much lower cost than a Kindle, Sony, etc.

Sure, very true, and a lot of people will use those devices, prefering the jack of all trades master of none device. If you’re willing to make compromises, a PDA screen (usually no more than 3x2ish) will work, you can read a ‘page’ of text every 4-5 changes of the screen, with anywhere near useful fonts, and come talk to me after a marathon rainy saturday book reading exercise, or a long wait at a doctor’s office.

By that logic, we’d all own motorola razors, because they too have basic internet browsing, messaging, and actually have video and MMS messaging, unlike the iPhone, which contrary to that thought, is doing quite well in the market.

Sixth: if the largest cell phone screens would not do, even the iPhone, Curve, etc., there are all the new netbooks coming out that should get the job done in any number of ways as far as an eBook presentation goes, from reading out loud, dozens of programs to choose from to read or to listen via text to speech, etc.

See above. Sure you can squeeze all kinds of other uses into devices. A netbook also makes an excellent door stop when opened halfway, but why not use a door stop? A newton 2100 can run a basic webserver, costs way less than a rack mount Dell, why not use those to serve websites all over the world? Sure those are extreme examples intended to be silly, but they’re not far off you have to admit.

Seventh: in all the history of electronics the dedicated products, those that do only one good thing, rather than the integrated products, are never known to sell very well.

To quote fake Steve Jobs, “Dude, I invented the friggin iPhone. Have you heard of it?” But way before the iPhone was the iPod, it played music. It didn’t have an FM radio built in, it didn’t record audio notes, it was a music player, and mostly still in, unless you’re one of ‘those’ people who watch movies and TV on a tiny mostly square screen. Sure the multi taskerdevices are nice and 90% of our world is made up of those devices, but the other 10% are uni taskers, that do their single task REALLY well. Oh yeah there’s Zunes, and Rios and whatever else, that have tried the multi tasker route, how’s that worked out for them?

It’s like buying a HiFi that has one box for FM and one for AM, another as a pre-amplifier, and another as an amplifier, another bass or treble controls box, etc., versus one box for all.

Not to be mean, but the examples alone point out to me, that Mr. Hart is simply dated. Funny that some one so attached to ‘old ways of live’ would have invented something so game changing as eBooks, but hey, we all have our moments. I mean really? A HiFi?

Why would someone spend the same amount of cash on a Kindle/Sony as on a netbook or a laptop?

Speaking strictly for myself, here’s why

  • I wouldn’t take a netbook/laptop to the gym, my Kindle is on the eliptical with me each day.
  • I can’t read my laptop/netbook while taking off and landing. Some say I’m probably not supposed to with a Kindle, but no one has said anything, and since the power output is only in changing the page, and tiny to boot, I’d argue airlines rules have to change (separate post).
  • I never carried a book in my laptop bag, except when traveling. Now I cary a few dozen or less all the time.
  • I can’t compute on myMacbook in direct sunlight, reading would be out, but I’ve enjoyed my Kindle on my deck more than once.
  • I can toss my Kindle around, drop it (just did this morning) and pick it up and never worry it’s harmed, I can’t say the same for my laptop/netbook
  • I can read (and have) for hours on my Kindle. My eyes get sore/tired when I read long blog posts on my disply. And it’s a nice display.

The Kindle isn’t portable enough to be the more take along kind of item than a netbook/laptop.

I can’t imagine anything more portable. It weighs almost nothing, is the size of a Moleskine.

It would appear that ONLY the person who has an awful time reading would want a Kindle, simply, and truly, just because of the variable fonts & and the new X2 being about to read out loud, or the kind of person who just wants to have a lot of the latest toys and doesn’t care about price to benefits ratios and the like.

I’d say the converse is true, the only person who doesn’t want a Kindle/Sony is the person who doesn’t read much now, so the cost makes no sense, or the person who wants to crack open a hardback, recline in their lay-z boy and put a 45 on the turn table and enjoy ‘their’ reading experience, enjoying their anacronistic lifestyle.

Eighth: there are simply not enough Kindles to really change the eBook environment.

There weren’t enough iPods for the recording industry to care about when they launched either.

Just think about how many eBooks there are now, millions of eBooks given away in average months just from gutenberg.org.

Nothing against PG, but really? some of us like more modern reads.I mean PG is great, and I’ve got some classics on my Kindle just so I can have them when I want, but really,some of us are reading books published this milennia.

iTunes had its first million selling tune about a year ago, really only ~1 year after getting a shakedown cruise over with.

If every person who has a Kindle or a Sony buys the same book, only by adding their combination of sales will they manage a million seller, and that is not likely to happen anytime soon.

This I can’t argue with, but I think Mr. hart overlooks the underlying truth. Reading isn’t a big deal any more. Literacy is frighteningly low. People are “too busy” to read I’ve had people tell me to my face they wish they had the time to read. To which I typically say if it’s important you make time, same as anything else. Is surfing Digg, more important? It’s not a reflection on the Kindle that there isn’t yet a 1 millionth book sold, it’s a reflection on American literacy.

How long before Amazon or Sony comes out with a new model that won’t read all the previous book entries on the old models?

You mean like when VHS replaced BetaMAX? Sure Amazon/Sony could release a new device that can’t read their old formats, but that’d be kinda retarded. Anything is possible, but I hope they’ve been watching Apple. My Kindle 2 in 5 years may not get any firmware update love, but neither does my 1st Gen iPod color. But it still plays music like a champ.

How long before the first Kindle and first Sony are antique collector items rather than a real, live and well-used eBook reader?

Time will tell, but they’re electronics, so it won’t be long. Same as netbooks of today, will be cute children’s toys in the not too far future. I mean really, does Mr. Hart think that the netbooks and mobile phones he thinks we’ll be using will be around forever, not to be relegated to the antique pile? Where’d I put my Handspring Visor anyway?

This is NOT going to happen with eBooks from an assortment of other sources that have been here for much longer than Kindles or Sonys; the very first Project Gutenberg entry is still readable on any modern machine, the only thing is that a file from that era had only capitals if made on the normally available equipment of 1971 but it still works, and looks just the same now as the files downloaded on the first full day of eBook pioneering, July 5, 1971.

Is anyone even going to pretend that Kindle and Sony will even read their own proprietary files 38 years from 2009?

This is the crux of the issue. To Mr. Hart it’s clear eBook is text file. Sure 100 years from now .txt will likely still be a valid format, much like sheet music is. But who can play an 8 track? Mr. Hart is comparing the eBook as a ‘thing’ to ebook readers. Which is like comparing music to iPods. Sure the Kindle may be gone in a few decades, so will the iPod, but the medium won’t. Books and music will still be here.

And just the same as we can still play wavs, mp3, etc, we’ll be able to read eBooks, because the creative/intelligent companies will offer backwards compatibility or like iTunes, “convert your x format to the new Y format” Sure formats die, happens all the time, and I frankly hope Amazons DRM dies like the iPod’s. But it took time, I’m patient (not really, but can be when I have to be)

Sorry this was so long, but it really irks me when people get traction for their thoughts, by writing such meaningless biased crap. It’s as if chicken little had a blog.

There’s more to Mr.Hart’s ramblings if you’re so inclined, I literally could have put his whole post into mine, and picked each thing apart, but frankly ithink it would have been moot, after debunking his list.

The Kindle needs an iTunes app

Amazon quietly roled out kindle.amazon.com the other day. It’s a pretty cool but only slightly useful idea.

picture-3 It’s a cool idea, you login with your amazon account and can see your Kindle content, mostly.

I’ve been thinking on this for a while and I think (I hope) that kindle.amazon.com is Amazon’s first step in ‘killing it’ as the kids say.

A lot of people have said, myself included, that the iPod alone wasn’t the winning solution, iTunes was a huge part the success. library management that works flawlessly with the device. The Kindle needs this, like yesterday.

The Kindle UI is craptastic, and there’s no way to manage content. iTunes is the secret sauce for the iPod/iPhone. you don’t need to keep all your stuff on the device, or manage it from the device. There’s an easy to use, clean interface on the desktop to manage all your media, then you sync what you want. It’s all contained and orderly and easy to manage.picture-6

The Kindle has nothing like that. You manage your media on the Kindle itself with basic “Remove from device” functionality, which puts (purchased) content into the archive, which Amazon stores in the cloud. You can pull archived content back into the Kindle, but that’s it. It’s on or off the device.

What about stuff you put on the Kindle yourself? You’re SOL. User created content can’t be archived, it can only be deleted. Sure you can keep it on the computer in a folder somewhere and when you plug the Kindle in you can copy it over again, but that’s janky to say the least.

kindle.amazon.com comes close, allowing you to manage your Kindle library (except you can only see it, not control/change anything) and see your annotations… on purchased content only. Content you’ve put on the device is notably missing. Meaning annotations you’ve placed on ebooks you loaded yourself are still tricky to retrieve/make use of and only available on the Kindle itself.

If Amazon really wants to nail the eBook reader market, they need to realize what Apple did, a device alone, while awesome, isn’t the solution. The desktop client that makes it easy to manage your library is a must. It might be too much to ask, but it’d be nice if the me@free.kindle.com functionality was built into the desktop app so I could convert my PDFs etc on my own and sync over USB.

I think the first company to launch a nice and easy to use eBook reader (the Kindle MOSTLY fits the bill) AND desktop library management application will be the winner. Until then, the race isn’t won and I hope Amazon doesn’t drop the ball at this important point in the eBook race.