Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Newspapers Rallied Against Kindle

Fearing the Kindle will enable Amazon to have the same hegemony over newspapers that iTunes does over music, "Slate"'s Jack Shafer suggests an alternative:

Before the Kindle has a chance to become the universal reader—TechCruch estimated in August that only about 240,000 Kindles had been shipped—newspaper publishers should take measures to make certain that they don't get Appled by Amazon. I'd have them create paid electronic versions under their control and leapfrog the scuzzy Kindle. Here's how:

Publishers have been promising customers lightweight tablet readers for decades—see this 1994 video for a Knight Ridder demo of the concept. All of that futurism is coming true as tiny, cheap PCs known as "netbooks" reached the market. Manufactured by Asus, Acer, HP, Samsung, MSI, Dell, and others, these full-fledged PCs start at $349, the same as a Kindle. While not optimized like the Kindle for tetherless downloading of publications, netbooks are more powerful and versatile than the Kindle, and their high-res color screens make the Kindle's gray-scale display look astigmatic. As both the price and form factor for netbooks decline, we start to approach a machine that does everything that a PC does and what a Kindle does for the price of a Kindle.

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