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Old 12-14-2007, 11:11 AM   #1
DaleDe
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Amazon Kindle is 'a bit sad,' says French designer

Philippe Starck says the e-book reader's designer 'wasn't quite humble enough to completely disappear'

December 13, 2007 (IDG News Service) -- Philippe Starck, a French designer who champions simplicity of form, has proclaimed Amazon's Kindle e-book reader "almost modern" but "a bit sad."

Starck was a speaker at the Le Web 3 social networking conference outside Paris on Tuesday. After an energetic, rambling speech about modern design, he was handed a Kindle by technology blogger Robert Scoble and asked what he thought of it.

"In this type of product, the best design is the least design possible," said Starck. That means it should be small, simple and strong, and not distract from the content, which should be the most interesting part.

The Kindle almost achieves that, "but the designer wasn't quite humble enough to completely disappear, so he made a little slope here, a diagonal there," Starck said. "It's a little sad because the concept is modern, but the design is less modern, because the designer doesn't want to disappear."

"No no," he concluded, "it is almost modern."

See the rest of the Article: computerworld.com/
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Old 12-14-2007, 11:34 AM   #2
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Yes, Kindle is quite ugly but I'm not sure I would call Starck's own designs pretty.
http://images.google.com/images?q=Starck+mouse
http://www.designverb.com/2006/03/09...mas-by-starck/
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Old 12-14-2007, 11:52 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by igorsk View Post
Yes, Kindle is quite ugly but I'm not sure I would call Starck's own designs pretty.
http://images.google.com/images?q=Starck+mouse
http://www.designverb.com/2006/03/09...mas-by-starck/
Where did he call the Kindle design "ugly"?
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Old 12-14-2007, 11:58 AM   #4
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Well, I admit, it was also my first impression that the French man must have referred to the so often claimed ugly look of the Kindle.

But now I see a different point... he really meant sad when he said it. The Kindle, like a sad teddy bear. I guess he is right.
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Old 12-14-2007, 12:14 PM   #5
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You know, when I saw the first picture of the prototype Kindle (it never changed), I thought, "Well that isn't very pretty." Now, after seeing the Kindle in person, I've definitely revised my impression. I don't mind its looks at all. I guess that I am once again in the minority. I like the design of my Kindle. Of course there are things that I would change, but the slope on the left side isn't one of them. It offers a perfect resting place for my thumb while I am holding the Kindle's case. Somehow it also makes the unit feel more book-like. The other thing that people never seem to take note of is the feel of the Kindle. It feels just like a book that is published on the most expensive paper. You know, the shinny paper that is used in expensive text books and photography magazines, etc. I love the smooth surface and the slight reminder of that luxurious paper. I find myself running my fingers over the surface while reading. I hope that they never change that part of the unit. I also like the fact that the Kindle feels warm in my hand. Not the kind of warm that you get from heat, but the lack of cold that comes from metal. The Kindle has a welcoming feel when you pick it up. That feel is quite different from what I felt when I handled the Sony Reader. When I picked up the Sony, it felt cold. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the Sony isn't a great unit. It is just a different feeling. That is one of the reasons that I went with the Kindle.
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Old 12-14-2007, 01:22 PM   #6
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My biggest complaint on the design is that it was clearly never tested by potential customers. If 50 people had tried it for a week (perhaps even 10 people) they would have got enough feedback to address most of the glaring ergonomic issues (device falls out of its cover, right edge keys too easy to press by mistake, ...). All of these would have been fixable if caught early in the product cycle. This might not have stopped the Kindle being labeled as "ugly", but a design can grow on you if it works well. Overall, I would rate the Kindle as a "near miss" in design and execution. At one level, this isn't bad for a company with little experience in product design. It suggests that the Kindle mark II could be a winner with just a little more effort. The existing device could also improve over time if Amazon concentrates on software upgrades.
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Old 12-14-2007, 01:35 PM   #7
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That's the price you pay for absolute secrecy, I s'pose.
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Old 12-14-2007, 02:39 PM   #8
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That's the price you pay for absolute secrecy, I s'pose.
Yep. I get the impression that it went to beta well after the form-factor could've been altered and still make xmas ship. It would surprise me if nobody on the team thought this was a less-than-optimal design, though. Do they have a cultural problem maybe? Was it that people weren't speaking up or that decision makers weren't listening.
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Old 12-14-2007, 03:22 PM   #9
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Or maybe they thought (possibly rightly so) that Whispernet is be the killing feature of the Kindle and that consumers wouldn't mind so much its questionable design.
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Old 12-14-2007, 03:38 PM   #10
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Or maybe they thought (possibly rightly so) that Whispernet is be the killing feature of the Kindle and that consumers wouldn't mind so much its questionable design.
In my case they were right about features hooking me in despite my initial horror at the design. Whispernet is nice but it was search, dictionary lookup, annotation and the large selection of titles that really got me. Whispernet has turned out to be even niftier that I first accounted for, though. I didn't think of it much when I bought the Kindle but man is it great to be able to just buy a book and have it there or grab a sample right when I first hear about a book. Still, why make an ugly design when you could make an attractive one and possibly get even more customers?
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