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.