Category Archives: Amazon

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Renewing My Faith in the Promise of the Internet

Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: How to Avoid Huge Ships

I’m dating myself when I say this but…

to me, the promise of the internet is a joke that everyone writes the punchline for.

All the reviews on here – admit this.

Even the pricing arbitrage bots get into the jokes – 3rd party pricing goes from $173.63 – $1020.34 + shipping.

Notice, the book was originally published in 1993. While Amazon says March, I suspect September is truthier.

Amazon Fire – First Impressions

tl;dr – Yes, this is The Holiday Gift of 2011.

For all the hype – this is easily the best tablet I’ve played with in a decade. From the unboxing experience (less than 5 minutes from delivery to browsing my ebook library) to getting comfortable and settling in.

Amazon has:

  • minimized all the parts of Android that annoy me (back button, overall cheap feel),
  • brought in all the parts of WebOS that I like (get me to my stuff, integrate the web throughout the OS),
  • brought over all the parts of about Kindle I love (remember where I was, stay out of my way)
  • and made it easy to sideload everything – ebooks, photos, music, video, address book – via USB.

At 7″, the Fire is terribly comfortable to hold in one hand and it makes tablet computers (iPad & TouchPad) seem comically large. Like the larger tablets – this is a great size to socialize around (unlike laptops or handhelds).

Unlike the iPad – I can easily see taking the Fire everywhere. Hell – I can see buying two – one that stays in the house and one that’s mounted in the car.

Oh, and there’s the bit about it having a fantastic web browser (that even makes it easy to bookmark) and WiFi.

Oh – and the revenue model is clear (it’s an extension of Amazon’s store, duh).

Easy, Amazon Prime is About Reducing Transaction Costs

“I’m not sure what free shipping has to do with free movies and now free books.” – David Pogue

Amazon Prime is slowly and steadily chipping away at every barrier to a sale Amazon has – first it reduced shipping costs (both in time & price) then it turned watching a movie into an impulse buy, now with the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library it’s turning reading a book into an impulse buy.

This just breathed new life into my Kindle and re-instated my Prime membership.

Interesting thought exercise: What if an Amazon Fire came free with annual Prime membership?

Fire – Amazon Launched Their Sputnik Today

At the beginning of the month – before I knew anything of today’s Amazon Fire announcement – I announced that Amazon (along with Mozilla and Samsung) were going to be tomorrow’s tech innovation leaders.

Scanning through the Amazon Fire page I was immediately struck by how it neatly integrates everything Amazon has been working on to date; eBooks, streaming media, frustration-free packaging, Amazon Prime – it’s all in there. (I’m sure local.amazon.com will be there next week)

Undoubtedly, this is a Sputnik from Amazon to Apple. The iPad was once the most vertically integrated, commerce-oriented, mobile device. Today, it’s the Amazon Fire.

Every single interaction with the Amazon Fire is a commercial one. Even just browsing the web..

“…Amazon will capture and control every Web transaction performed by Fire users. Every page they see, every link they follow, every click they make, every ad they see is going to be intermediated by one of the largest server farms on the planet. People who cringe at the privacy and data-mining implications of the Facebook Timeline ought to be just floored by the magnitude of Amazon’s opportunity here….In essence the Fire user base is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, scraping the Web for free and providing Amazon with the most valuable cache of user behavior in existence.” – Chris Espinosa

Which means the Amazon Fire is also a Sputnik to Facebook and Google. There’s no need to encourage web publishers to include +1 and ‘Like’ buttons on their websites when every single request goes through your servers. There’s no need to get called on the carpet for dropping more cookies when someone logs out when – again – every single request goes through your servers. There’s no need to announce redesigned, more marketer-friendly page layouts when – lastly – every single request goes through your servers.

Many years ago, I smiled when I was crunching server logs and all the traffic seemed to come from northern Virginia. Tomorrow it may come from a small handful of EC2 zones. Maybe Amazon will be generous enough to forward the geolocation data in the Silk browser requests.

Yes – I have one on pre-order.

Kindle 2.0 USB Cable Died, Not Charging

My Kindle‘s been dead since yesterday. My initial thought was that maybe it no longer liked being charged from the USB hub. I plugged it into the wall and the charge light didn’t come on.

Hmmm.

Thankfully, it’s USB so I’ve got plenty of cables lying around to test.

I grabbed the USB cable from my Nokia e71, and the Kindle’s charge light is orange.

UPDATE May 06, 2009
I’m on the phone with Amazon’s Kindle Customer support right now. It’s not as immediately friendly and helpful as the “It would be easier to help you if you called us.” email made it sound.

Even before I described the issue, I had to justify who I was (irrelevant to starting the conversation) – that’s always off-putting and opposite from how people actually interact face-to-face.

Now I’ve been transferred to a Kindle Specialist (I thought that’s who I called originally). Once she picked up – it was resolved very smoothly in less than a minute.

Nice work Amazon.

Book Still Readable – Decades Later!

“If you’d have told me then that by 2007 the state of the art would barely have advanced beyond that of 1998, I’d have wept openly.” – Dave Slusher

If you fell into a coma when Business 2.0 had a roller coaster on the cover and woke up today, you’d have one more reason to double check the calendar. Amazon’s $400 Kindle eBook reader was announced today.

It feels exactly like all the eBook attempts over the last decade; ugly form-factor, proprietary DRM format, read-only, vendor-controlled titles, customers nickel-and-dimed after paying hundreds of dollars.

In other words – far more inconvenient and annoying than the media form it’s attempting to replace. Oh, and it’s Moore’s Law compliant? No thanks.

“What happens to these e-books if Amazon, having lost money on the endeavor, stops producing Kindle readers a few years from now?” – John Gruber

Damn good question. Sitting next to my Mac mini is a stack of CD just as tall. Decade-old backups of work, a substantial percentage of which is un-openable due to proprietary formats from long extinct companies and products. Compare that to the bookshelves of hardcovers and paperbacks I’ve moved with me for nearly two decades – all still fully functional.

If I could freely load up the ‘library’ of PDFs I’ve collected over the years or queue up some RSS feeds into Kindle, then maybe UPS and USPS should be concerned.

Unless you’re an eBook collector, there’s nothing to read.

Amazon Unbox + Tivo vs. Netflix

Yesterday on a whim, I connected baby Tivo to Amazon’s Unbox service…the things I’ll do for $15. Unlike Tim, I haven’t purchased or rented anything, yet. While the prices are competitive (and more convenient) than purchasing DVDs it isn’t that competitive against our Netflix subscription ($15/month/rental vs. $18/month ).

I see Amazon + Tivo perfect for impulse purchases – when I can’t adjust the Netflix queue fast enough – or Target’s closed. That said, I’m not much of a impulse purchaser.

If I find something that looks interesting, I’ll let you know – at this point, Netflix wins.

Looking through Amazon’s current Unbox selection, I had a clash-of-rating-systems moment: I kept clicking the customer star rating expect it to change. It didn’t.

UPDATE: 20 March 2007
Tivo was empty last night and we’re between Netflix. Hmmmm. Seems like a great time to try out Amazon Unbox. After scouring the selection to find anything interesting – I bought the Bones pilot. Unfortunately, Unbox doesn’t stream. Simultaneously, Jen and I disappointedly exclaimed, “Aweeeeeee.”

We called it a night before hitting play. So much for impulse buys.