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Old 12-02-2009, 11:57 PM   #1
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Can the Kindle avoid repeating the video-game crash of '83?

Good but scary article on e-Readers and lack of standards.

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2009/12/...-game-crash-o/
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Old 12-03-2009, 12:16 AM   #2
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Substitute "e-book" for "video game" and note that today even Hollywood has decided the only way to make money is to make movies based on video games.

Dedicated e-book devices may or may not be doomed, e-books aren't.
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Old 12-03-2009, 01:44 AM   #3
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I don't think e-book devices are doomed as such, but there will be market consolidation happening in not too distant future. I guess this can be seen as the early days of the whole industry. There are just too many devices out there without anything to differentiate them from the competition.
Also, the lack of standards isn't helping. The most striking point made in the article for me is that if you decide to change a DRM-ed device, you cannot transfer your library across! This never goes down well with consumers in the long run ...
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Old 12-03-2009, 09:18 AM   #4
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Meh

I doubt dedicated ebook reading devices will go away any time soon. It's certain that other devices that can read ebooks will be introduced; it's even possible that numerically, most people will use a multi-function device instead of a dedicated device.

However, to presume that means "ebook readers are doomed before they take off" is a fundamental misunderstanding of the dynamics of the book market, as well as several technical aspects of ebooks and electronics in general.

• The majority of the public only buy a handful of books each year. However, a smaller percentage buy 10 or more books per year, and represent a key segment of the book market. These are also the users who will benefit most from a dedicated ebook reader, due to ease of use, less eye strain, fewer distractions, longer battery life etc. It's likely this segment of the market, as well as the education market, will support the market for dedicated readers for quite some time.

• Unlike video games circa 1983 (or 2009), most ebook formats can be displayed on a multitude of devices. E.g. B&N makes reading software for PC, Mac, Blackberry, and iPhone; buy a B&N book, and even if you switch to a tablet PC in the future, you're almost certainly covered.

IMO format isn't a big issue. People have dealt with incompatible standards and formats for awhile now; I don't hear a lot of fear and confusion that if I buy a Wii game now, I won't be able to play it 40 years from now on whatever is around. (And yes, some people do enjoy playing old video games....)

• Old electronics may fade away, but they don't die quite as swiftly as most presume. E.g. you can still get a good portable transistor radios, despite it being "ancient" technology by some standards. And in many cases, focused devices still offer numerous advantages over multifunction; digital cameras will be around for a long time, despite the ease of putting a halfway decent camera into a smartphone.
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Old 12-03-2009, 10:00 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
• Old electronics may fade away, but they don't die quite as swiftly as most presume.
Assuming it is not locked in with some DRM that has not been broken. Non-broken DRM content can fade away in a moment.
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Old 12-03-2009, 11:14 AM   #6
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I think the author of that article is making a very big stretch. The author's understanding on the crash of '83 seems to be a little shallow at best. As someone who used to be a serious videogame collector, I can tell you the main reason for the crash was a combination of the influx of really crappy games and completely unrealistic sales projections. For example, to hit two birds with one stone, Atari's Pac-Man is rightly heralded as a perfect example of a lousy game, but the suits at Atari had millions more copies of the game manufactured than consoles existed to play them. Why? They thought people would buy a second copy to keep at their vacation home. (I kid you not. This was an actual reason.)

If the eBook market was flooded with low quality knockoff titles, then we'd have a much closer parallel, as that was a real tipping point in '83. Multiple formats did factor in, to an extent, but I think the importance has been overemphasized. After all, today's market supports three incompatible home consoles and two portable devices. The biggest issues were having companies like Quaker Oats starting game divisions and companies like Atari figuring they could push any old junk into the market place and it'd sell millions.
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Old 12-03-2009, 11:28 AM   #7
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Well, if the Kindle goes 'bye bye', is no loss to those who have taken the precaution to liberate and back up every book bought and downloaded.

You just transfer them to the newest incarnation.

Its a no brainer.
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Old 12-03-2009, 11:42 AM   #8
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Two other points I'd make with regards to computers overtaking videogame systems, and this is from the point of view of someone who was there and did it. 1) Computers presented a better expirence for videogames. The games had better graphics and could be more complex. It wasn't until the NES that the videogame systems caught up. I'd argue that reading on an eBook is a superior expirence to reading on a computer or smart phone.

2) Piracy. The ability to easily copy floppies or cassettes moved a lot of computers then. That's just the reality of it. You could pay $29 for Pac-Man on your 2600 or copy the disc for your C64 for free. That was a selling point for a lot of people. Hell, salespeople of the time used it as a selling point! I doubt you see that now anywhere.
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Old 12-03-2009, 12:22 PM   #9
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Assuming it is not locked in with some DRM that has not been broken. Non-broken DRM content can fade away in a moment.
Sure. But this category of problems is not restricted to ebooks or digital formats. You could have a huge collection of vinyl records, laserdiscs, reel-to-reel tapes, VCR tapes. If your faithful device breaks, you may have all sorts of problems finding a playback device that works with your current equipment.

Or, I could drop $2000 on a copy of AutoCAD. What guarantee do I have that AutoDesk will be in business 20 years from now? Or that DWG's -- or worse yet, Revit files, which are significantly more complex than a DWG -- will work properly in the future? Or that these expensive software packages will be compatible with the next Microsoft OS on deck? E.g. officially, anything earlier than AutoCAD 2007 is not supported on Vista.

Given at least the current ability to shift your ebook purchases to different devices, I don't see much reason to sweat it, let alone bury an entire class of devices on that basis.
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Old 12-03-2009, 01:02 PM   #10
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Well, if the Kindle goes 'bye bye', is no loss to those who have taken the precaution to liberate and back up every book bought and downloaded.

You just transfer them to the newest incarnation.

Its a no brainer.
I said non-cracked DRM, like topaz. Also your liberation is currently illegal in most western coutries, IIRC. May, or may not, be legal if it is abandoned.
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Old 12-03-2009, 01:08 PM   #11
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I said non-cracked DRM, like topaz. Also your liberation is currently illegal in most western coutries, IIRC. May, or may not, be legal if it is abandoned.
I wasn't referring to your post.

We'll not get into the 'illegal' aspect.

If you continue to buy drm'd products, and then find they no longer work on your device, or suddenly disappear, you can cry and whine as long as you like. No one will give a horse's patoot.

Staying proactive would seem to be the way to protect your investment.
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Old 12-03-2009, 01:35 PM   #12
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Well, if the Kindle goes 'bye bye', is no loss to those who have taken the precaution to liberate and back up every book bought and downloaded.

You just transfer them to the newest incarnation.

Its a no brainer.
Or to those of us that only read books once and don't give a crap what happens to them afterwards!

That was my main attraction to e-books. Not having to hassle with the library, or buying books and having to sell/donate them or have them gathering dust around the house.
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