Skip to main content

Start a fire with some kindling

Yesterday was a big day for Amazon.com. They announced a whole new lineup of e-readers and tablets for their Kindle line of products. Many a pundit said that they were going after Apple in their latest play, and to some degree I think there's some small truth to that, but I don't think that's the whole story.

In fact, I think the first person that Amazon is trying to take down is Barnes & Noble. B&N's Nook tablet has been their answer to the Kindle for a few years now, and from a technology and feature standpoint, the two have been leap-frogging each other. Before the Kindle announcements yesterday there was the Nook with glow-light, so you can read in the dark. The ad for this device played constantly on TV in recent months, and I'm sure it caught the eye of more than a few customers. Yesterday Amazon answered with a version of it's own, that also upped the ante by including a capacitive touch screen, a step up from the Nook version.

On the high end, B&N has struggled to define what it's Nook Color really is. Once you put a color screen on an e-reader, it opens up a whole new set of content, but you need an ecosystem to support that content. B&N has always been a top notch bookstore, and is pretty much the only big-box bookstore left around. But their music business is a hold-over from the pre-digital age, and they've never been big in the DVD world. So that leaves books. As an e-reader, B&N's offering is really top notch, and I'm personally a big fan of their product. But, it's obvious that first up on Amazon's list of goals, it taking down this competitor once and for all.

At the heart of it all is the issue of ecosystem. Amazon, over the past couple of decades, has built a tremendous ecosystem of products that mesh well into a digital lifestyle. They were one of the first to the online book business, they embraced the digital music revolution (albeit a bit later than others), and because of their wide range of products most people think of them first when looking for everything from DVD's to diapers. This ecosystem is what Amazon is hoping will draw you away from being simple a book reader, which you can do on a B&N Nook quite easily, to being an Amazon.com 'digital consumer'. They're hoping that once you realize that you can do more than read books on a Kindle that you'll choose their ecosystem over the competitors. For many people, that may be a very compelling argument.

Sadly, the range of offerings that Amazon put out yesterday may be the beginning of the end for Nook. Or maybe it's an opportunity for B&N to realize that they can't compete in the ecosystem game, and focus on letting the Nook be the best e-reader it can be. Perhaps it's OK for B&N to look at a smaller portion of marketshare and be content with that, if they can be the best at what they do. Only time will tell if consumers would go along with that notion however, and for the time being it looks like the next move on the chess board is Barnes & Noble's.

Popular posts from this blog

Push it... push it real good...

The other day I got a chance to play with the new Apple force touch trackpad. This is a new design that Apple has put on their laptops for non-mechanized clicking on trackpad. When you press on the trackpad it senses the force that you're pressing with, and when you reach a certain level, you feel a 'click'. If you keep pressing, you feel a second 'click'. The unique thing is that these 'clicks' aren't physical in nature. The trackpad never moves at all, but the click that you feel is from haptic feedback. In essence, when you press with enough force, the trackpad clicks back at you. You feel the sensation of clicking, but it's simply the trackpad responding to your pressure.

I got to play with this for a while, since the Apple Store rep was talking with us about soccer, and after a short bit I was getting the hang of it. I feel that it would take quite a bit longer though to really feel comfortable with this new paradigm. I'm someone who has a …

The beat goes on

Yesterday Apple revealed their long awaited entry into the streaming music field. They were able to do this quickly because of the acquisition of Beats last year, and the systems and intellectual property that came with that purchase. Considering that the music reveal was pretty much the only big news out of a pretty benign developer keynote, I'll take a few moments to talk about what I think about it.

Apple was perhaps the defining company in the music revolution of the past 20 years. With the introduction of the iPod that revolutionized portable music, to the creation of the iTunes store and the eventual death of DRM, Apple has been at the forefront of digital music. This leadership comes with high expectations to continue to lead, and so many people have long questioned Apple not getting into the streaming music business quicker.

For the past few years new companies have come forth to lead the change in the streaming music evolution. From Pandora and its ability to create uniqu…

Hack! Slash! Burn! Crush!!

The big tech news story of the weekend was the hacked account of Mat Honan. As documented in his posting on Wired.com, in the space of a few hours his digital life was in shambles. And as much as we always talk about strong passwords, etc., this was not a case of password failure. It was a case that shows just how our desire for on-demand, cloud based services that are convenient can come back to haunt us.

I highly suggest you go read all 4 pages of the article, but the quick summary is that a hacker wanted control of Mr. Honan's Twitter account. In order to get it, they started with basic social scouting, and proceeded to use all of the built-in tools of Google, Amazon and Apple to gain access to his accounts without ever needing to crack a single password. At Google they discovered what his Apple ID e-mail address was when they did a simple "Forgot my password" query. Then at Amazon, they called up customer service and game'd the system to get access to the last 4 …