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Old 12-07-2007, 04:53 AM   #1
brecklundin
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For us on the fence over a Kindle...what would it take...

to get me to order a Kindle tomorrow?
  • I would love to see a LIFETIME warranty for the device itself. If it ever stops working they will repair/replace it for life. This includes free firmware updates for as long as I use the device. One proviso would be the requirement to order at least a couple books annually.
  • Significantly discounted price to upgrade to future generation devices similar to software upgrades. The discount could be based on how many generations have passed since your device was originally purchased. Say, free for under 30-days, $50 for 6-12 mos., $75 for 1-2 yrs....etc...those numbers are simply for example.
  • No charges EVER for book downloads and if EVDO becomes a thing of the past free online downloads for as long as I own the device w/o forcing a device upgrade.

I am not trying to be cavalier or demanding as a buyer but those are my concerns over a device costing $400 for content that has history or failure in very grand fashions...if Amazon is confident in the direction they are moving then the promise/guarantee of lifetime functionality and compatibility is a small concession on their part. They are in the business of selling CONTENT not hardware after all...and the Kindle is simply a vertical market content manager/presentation device...heck, send me ads now and then if you want to reduce the cost of the device but we would need to be able to lock them out at times.

But those things would cause me to order no questions asked tomorrow...

I know something like that will NEVER happen and is pretty unrealistic, but it's my take on any of these devices dedicated to just reading books.
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Old 12-07-2007, 10:08 AM   #2
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Huh. Priorities differ. I like your suggestion #2 but 1 & 3 don't mean much to me.

Lifetime warranty on an electronic product? Give me some of what you're smoking. Who do you think pays the projected cost of failures down the road? The initial price would have to be inflated enough to match the life failure analysis.

Suppose #3 was written. It wouldn't help you one little bit if Amazon goes out of business. Guaranteed service is never assured.

But back to priorities. I am on the fence myself for a second reader. Got the Sony for Xmas for my wife. Do I buy a second one for me or possibly the Kindle? I'd buy a Kindle tomorrow if -- the physical design was changed. So I'm probably buying a second Sony and waiting for Kindle version 2 or 3.

What do I mean by physical design? Big page turn buttons are good. Accidental presses are not. Way too many hands-on reviews complain about this and its fit into the cover. Second major point, make the keyboard slide-out or removable. The current layout adds unnecessary height to the device. Give us a top light like the Light Wedge. Not building that in or giving us a proper snap-on (so we pay more) accessory is dumb.

What else would make it tempting? Make more e-book formats native.

And my most radical idea, offer me a Netflix/Rhapsody-like book subscription service. I'd easily pay $12 a month, possibly more, to use this device like a library card. Allow me, say, two books downloaded at any one time (and never "owned"). I'm betting the Kindle in its present form is a step in exactly that direction because of the whispernet.
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Old 12-07-2007, 10:11 AM   #3
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And my most radical idea, offer me a Netflix/Rhapsody-like book subscription service. I'd easily pay $12 a month, possibly more, to use this device like a library card. Allow me, say, two books downloaded at any one time (and never "owned"). I'm betting the Kindle in its present form is a step in exactly that direction because of the whispernet.
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, Sony tried a similar scheme, with expiring content, for the original Librie reader in Japan. It was a commercial disaster. People do, it seems, like to "own" their content.
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Old 12-07-2007, 11:24 AM   #4
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they would have to introduce it to Canadians first before I would buy it. :P
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Old 12-07-2007, 12:42 PM   #5
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LIFETIME warranty? That would make the device cost a heck of a lot more than $400 right there. I would like a lifetime guarantee of access to my content (if they stop supporting it they have to provide a transition path) but I don't think it's reasonable to expect that $400 entitles you to a lifetime of hardware. TVs are several times that and people expect they'll stop working eventually, too. If $400 is too much for you to consider the device at this point then it's probably not the time for you to make the move. As time goes on, the eink screen prices will go down. Right now that's about half the hardware price right there. People assume Amazon is price gouging because the price is higher than they want to pay. I doubt there's much profit on this thing at all. If you consider the three years of R&D it's selling at a loss and they're hoping content will make up the difference. It's a new market and the early adopter types that are OK with shelling out $400 for a new and interesting technology are the ones that are participating. People who want low prices have to wait for the technology to mature.

Remember how expensive LCD monitors used to be? Now practically everyone has them. The last one I bought would have cost me four times as much had I bought it a few years ago. When the price gets to your comfort point, then I say go for it. The devices will be even better then, too. The way things move these days, I doubt it will even be that long. I hate waiting, too.
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Old 12-07-2007, 03:23 PM   #6
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That's okay Harry, I'm a bit evangelistic about my idea too. It is working for Netflix, Blockbuster, Rahpsody and so on. So failure in one market does not mean the concept won't fly.

It is a paradigm shift. I like owning books myself but I can see the possibility. If I have near-instant whispernet access to the same books (big if), how is it different than owning the e-books?
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Old 12-07-2007, 04:47 PM   #7
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It is a paradigm shift. I like owning books myself but I can see the possibility. If I have near-instant whispernet access to the same books (big if), how is it different than owning the e-books?
Cost?

I allocate about US$20/month for new books. If I could access the entire Amazon inventory (or everything except periodicals and textbooks, even), for that price, I think I could learn to live without owning the books. (I'd still occasionally buy p-books of favorites.) Amazon doesn't have enough of the content in ebook format yet, but that could change.

Question is, would that be a good deal for Amazon? In my case, I might end up reading more than $20/mo worth of content, but lots of people wouldn't. I don't know what the price would have to be to even out costs vs. revenue. Amazon doesn't get all of my book budget now, and that's probably true of lots of people, due to the "instant gratification" factor of being able to just buy a book in a store and read it right away. But Whispernet could change that.

I'm not ready to switch yet. As I said, Amazon still doesn't have the inventory I'd want (and they don't have a "buffet" plan, either). But I'd consider it if those conditions were met.
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Old 12-07-2007, 05:50 PM   #8
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There are 2 issues here - Kindle as hardware and Kindle as content. For Kindle as hardware, I would not pay more than the 60$ I paid for my Sony with several books of my choice thrown in as Sony did; for me eink has been a major bust until now and unless things change (speed, touch screen, color) Kindle just does not interest me.

For Kindle as content, it's hard to say if a subscription model would tempt me; I guess it would depend on what's in and how much it is.

I had unlimited Rhapsody for several years for 10$ a month (Cablevision offered that for their broadband customers - do not know if the price was general). For various reasons (incompatibility with iPod, most artists I am interested in were not available) I did not use it that much, but for 10$ a month, occasional use was ok. When they increased the price to 14$, I canceled; so the same would be true for a book subscription - at a reasonable price and with enough tempting books, I would go for it, and then it would depend on usage...
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Old 12-08-2007, 04:25 PM   #9
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What would it take? A $199 sales price or a $200 ebook credit! Otherwise, I'll wait for the next generation hardware. If I didn't already own a Sony Reader, that might be different.

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Old 12-08-2007, 04:45 PM   #10
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What would it take? A $199 sales price or a $200 ebook credit! Otherwise, I'll wait for the next generation hardware. If I didn't already own a Sony Reader, that might be different.

Regards,

Matt
You and most of the other responders are clearly not on the fence
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Old 12-08-2007, 06:44 PM   #11
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Um. Well, things that would make the Kindle more attractive to me would be:


A history of working as advertised and good customer support when it doesn't. Yeah, I realize this takes time. This is actually one major reason I haven't bought it (the other being lack of money on my part).

More formats supported natively. I understand why pdf is hard; keep working on it, because it's important. And epub support shouldn't even be hard. (Supporting the other ebook files out there would widen the available content and reduce switching costs for other users, but aren't a big deal to me in particular because any e-books I have are in formats the Kindle can already use.)

Amazon selling more books without DRM and clearly labeling whether a book has DRM or not. Plus I would like to see Amazon selling e-books to all comers in all formats; I think this is just a good citizenship issue.

Bigger selection in the Amazon store.

Major advances in the design itself (thinking long term here--these are not required to get me to buy it). I'd like to see it with the keyboard replaced by a touch screen with handwriting input (perhaps only at the bottom, like a PDA) so you can get rid of the keyboard and use that space for "reading real estate." I know it's hard to combine e-paper and touchscreen, but iLiad does it, so it must be possible.

Another possiblity that would be cool would be if it would open like a book, with a screen on each side, so that it can fold out flat and display PDFs at 8 1/2 by 11.
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Old 12-09-2007, 07:08 PM   #12
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YIKES this was a LOOOONG post...d'oh!! :)

Cool:

Lots of good insights...maybe I can explain the idea of a "lifetime" warranty. First of all I realize I am now older enough to be in the "doesn't quite get it" group of old farts...hehehehe...but...

...YES when I buy a device for my home such as a TV, fridge, washer/dryer...etc...I do EXEPCT it to last for decades not a handful of years. I have perfectly good TV's that we are still using which are over 35-years old and not a thing wrong with them. Of course I take care of the things I own. Keep them clean at least once yearly, keep them cooled down to help with heat related probs, etc...I do not accept the marketing gimmick of constant upgrades simply because the mfg says they will not support my product.

I have 386 laptops that I still find uses for...something as simple as a print server or even file storage as a backup...I have replaced backlight tubes, resoldered power faulty Dell connectors and found replacement parts and keep them working simply because the systems are still useful. And I run them all pretty much 24/7.

As to the idea of an eBook reader device...I would think one should last for at minimum of a decade. There are no significant heat issues for a basic reader really. Heat would only be an issue I can see as the real killer. And that will almost always be due to faulty components or excessive dust/dirt accumulation internally or, of course abuse. I understand that the eink displays have a limited lifespan inherent in the current design...but, ummm...do ANY of the mfg's indicate this? How is a consumer to know? Still the lifespan of the display is a good 7-years at minimum. And with proper care who knows?

Anyway, my idea of lifetime replacement for the SAME DEVICE is easy. If well built the failure rate for the first several years should be under 5%. There are also devices which do not pass the factory "smoke test". If repaired these can form the first generation of "replacement" devices. Early devices that fail in service are already going to be repaired/replaced under the warranty. A percentage of those might actually have trivial issues that can be repaired back at the factory or farmed out.

Then is the 2nd suggestion of a discounted upgrade path is created then many of the devices that are used to trade in will be just fine with maybe some cosmetic issues and a good internal cleaning...again this can be done pretty inexpensively.

The advantage is the consumer who simply wants to have a portable reading device will have the sense it is worth investing in a library of books after buying the device. I mean, if one buys a "real" book even if dropped in the bath tub it can still be used...might be all warped but it is still readable. If a $400 reading device has the power supply go bad after 18-months people will not be happy to have to either spend another $400 or just give up on the additional $1000 worth of books bought over the same 18-months. I mean since the Kindle format is proprietary and DRM'd consumers have zero options in terms of devices. [BTW, I have NO ISSUE with DRM...sort of but that is another and overdone issue anyway.. ]

Keeping a buyer with a working device is in the interest of both Amazon and the book publishers. A buyer who has a bad experience with a device failing or the book format changing and requiring a new device ever couple years will significantly limit the number of buyers willing to invest in a device. This is especially true as the population of the US swings to a much older average age over the next couple decades. It will mean many more people on fixed incomes who will have to insist on more value for each dollar they/we spend. And just because on can afford to buy these devices does not mean one should be stoopid about ROI for the device. [BTW, I love HarryT's idea of selling off his old devices after a year or so, getting about 3/4 of the original cost back and buying something new...works for me BUT will it work with a Kindle?...can it be resold since content is linked to the device? I dunno that part but again that is another thread...]

Try and think beyond this idea of everything one owns as being disposable...why should it be? They are only disposable because they are made in 3rd world countries in horrid factory working conditions with questionable mfg'ing practices. In other words the mfg costs are CHEAP...much cheaper then most may imagine.

And in case you have forgotten there once was a device that was completely guaranteed for the lifetime of your service...it was even an early computer device for the home...it was called a telephone. Sure you paid for it every month but would it not be logical that Amazon would add 50¢ (or whatever)/ebook to cover the maintenance issue? I can even see some "genius" adding a premium to the cost of "real" books over time.

I am sure the smart people at Amazon already have considered this idea anyway...but they are banking on the "cell phone $100/mo+cable TV for $100/mo" and a "new video game system every year just because" generation who do not understand the slimy concept of planned obsolescence to create more revenue at the price of expanding the customer base...ie...they worship at the alter of the quarterly report and nothing beyond. But books are a different animal...books have special meaning to each and every individual who owns/reads them...so most of use do not get bored with them even after reading them for the 50th time in many cases.

For Amazon to truly make a statement to the whole industry they should consider this sort of tactic...if everyone buys a Kindle simply because they know if they do not abuse it then it will always work for, call it 10-15 years...maybe after 10-years there is a flat replacement/repair fee of say $50 or, of course credit to a newer device.

I just feel it is a fair trade for the consumer surrendering the ability to sell, buy used or give away my ebooks he/she would buy as they would have been able to do with "solid" books. By basically ending the market for used books over the next decade the industry is going to create HUGE profits they never before had access to...or if they follow the forced-replacement model of the rest of the industry I doubt it will ever truly gain acceptance.

BTW, it is the whole proprietary format thing that causes concern...I mean look Sony Betamax'd themselves AGAIN I think...

Last there is nothing special about the technology in the Kindle...so there was minimal R&D to recover. Plant tooling, eh, a bit but not much...mostly it was taking existing components and putting them together. Not like they invented a whole new platform from the ground up and have $10s of millions in R&D...

Anyway those are just some of my reasons behind the thread there is no ...just to see if there are others out there who might see the idea as worthwhile...
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Old 12-10-2007, 04:20 PM   #13
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That is a much more reasoned stance than your first post indicated. As someone who engineers manufactured products for a living (and troubleshoots customer returns), let me make a few observations about e-readers.

They are portable so they are subject to much harsher environments than your TV or fridge. They will be temperature cycled every day (left in a car, read outside), dropped "x" times every year, vibrated in transit ('trains, planes and automobiles'), and splashed with household materials (from cleaners to drinks).

The charging connector will be rammed in once every two weeks or so. We already know the battery will only be good for so many charges (with diminishing capacity likely in a year or two).

I'm not so worried about the buttons because microswitches are a very mature technology but the printing on buttons is likely to fail sooner. Would that be a warranty item?

We (I) do not know the lifetime of Visiplex e-ink nor its failure modes. Is it only good for "x" page turns? Do random pixels drop out? Do we lose entire rows or columns? Do we lose contrast (ink not separating or the pigments fading)?

Not knowing more, I would probably be most concerned about temperature cycling and vibration. The weak link in most electronics are connections. Solder joints fatigue and break. Pressure contacts fret. Crimps corrode or loosen. Heaven help us if these new readers are "lead-free" devices! Pb-free solder joint durability is much more dependent on proper processing (narrower process window) than traditional tin-lead solders.

By the way, if a particular model is NOT Pb-free that might be a reason why it is not sold in Europe. Their RoHS legislation is in full swing.
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Old 12-11-2007, 10:43 AM   #14
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That is a much more reasoned stance than your first post indicated. As someone who engineers manufactured products for a living (and troubleshoots customer returns), let me make a few observations about e-readers.
Very good points. Might want to consider also, what is the practical lifespan of said product. I read somewhere that IPODs only last two years in consumer hands, before the bulk of puchasers have upgraded/replaced. I can see something similar for the Kindle. Assuming yearly product upgrades, most users would upgrade/replace after the 2nd major upgrade. This is a world of throwaway electronics.
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Old 12-11-2007, 12:57 PM   #15
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Very good points. Might want to consider also, what is the practical lifespan of said product. I read somewhere that IPODs only last two years in consumer hands, before the bulk of puchasers have upgraded/replaced. I can see something similar for the Kindle. Assuming yearly product upgrades, most users would upgrade/replace after the 2nd major upgrade. This is a world of throwaway electronics.
That's a tough call. On the one hand, this is probably a market less inclined to fads so having the latest and greatest style may not be as much of a motivation, but we're still at the point where the actual features are getting better at a pretty good rate, so people may be inclined to upgrade before the product fails.

My Dad got his iPod 5 years ago and it just died. Most people I know with iPods aren't like Dad. They've upgraded 2-3 times and sometimes have more than one. They want whatever the new thing is even though the old thing has pretty much the same feature set. I'm more like Dad as I would suppose many of us here are. If this were a mature technology like the iPod, I would expect to have it 5 years. But real feature improvements do seem to turn our heads and those seem to be coming at a good rate. I look at some of the lovely screen improvements they're working on and if one of those came out in a year, I might just cave. DH figures he'll inherit this Kindle when the next gen comes out. At least it would still be in service.
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