Amazon video – NOT impartial review

Did Amazon tuck away a microphone in the Kindle 3 with the idea of adding a phone option later, not just for possible fun with a voice navigation option? That’s my guess, after having read Andrys Basten’s mention of the “’not currently enabled microphone provided for future use.’”

A phone option for the Kindle would be Jeff Bezos’s way to weaken the iPhone’s multi advantage. Yes, maybe just one gizmo to tote after all—the K machine rather than an iPhone. Perhaps you would pay extra for a wireless connection that worked with the phone. Presto! New rev stream for Jeff and his friends at AT&T, and I suspect they could adjust the biz model to allow for losses in other rev for the wireless carrier. Will the wonders never cease? I really hope someone can pin this one down ASAP. I might upgrade my pre-ordered K3 to include the 3G option, not just WiFi, if my reckless speculation about the phone is on target.

I can also envision shared or unshared voice annotation of e-books. In the case of the unshared variety, Amazon could still store the files remotely. And speaking of sharing, I notice that the Amazon software update for the iPad, iPod and iPhone includes some shared highlighting—you can see how many users highlighted the most popular passages, at least in the case of bestsellers like Losing Mum and Pup, just as you can with Kindle hardware.

Simply put, while I disagree with Jeff Bezos on e-book standards and financial disclosure, I know he and his people are no dummies. Now, Jeff, prove it further and add ePub capabilities to the Kindle.


  1. Amazon’s 3G carrier is AT&T, not Sprint; that relationship “ended” a year ago. Things are moving quickly, eh?

    It seems logical that any device with a microphone and a persistent connection to the Internet might be used as a VoIP phone — the Kindle 3 would qualify. But I can’t see why AT&T would be thrilled about that — a way to undermine, albeit potentially only in a small way — its own revenues as “free” carrier. (You wouldn’t even need 3G for that.)

    I really think it’s misguided to continue to fuss over Kindle vs iPad. For the foreseeable future, Kindle will not pursue multi-media in any meaningful way — it can’t be done in b&w e-ink … so why believe that’s what Amazon is up to?

    It *is* worth noting what Amazon does with the Kindle platform on the iPad, Android, Blackberry and computer based editions. Amazon aims to make the *reading experience* synced and seamless on all devices so any feature, like highlighting and snippet / comment sharing, should be expected on all of them.

    For all the ragging on Amazon, I haven’t seen any other player — phone, tablet, netbook, ereader, gaming platform — reach out as broadly as Amazon in a cross-platform agnostic way to bring a particular experience to market. Rooted in an always connected $139 Kindle 3, it’s an amazing vision.

  2. SO how exactly would you use this “Kindle Phone” ? Hold it up to your head while you talk?

    If not…

    Does it have bluetooth so you can use a bluetooth headset like most “normal” phones? Or are you willing to have everyone around you hear your conversations.

    There are a couple Android based smart phones that are bucking the decade long trend towards ever smaller phones but even the geekiest Kindle user would probably balk at holding something like this up to their face to talk.

    A phone isn’t just a microphone, speaker, and network ability to do VoIP.

    And it flies in the face of all those who object to the iPad because it is MORE than just a device to read ebooks – like the Kindle. Suddenly it’s okay for the Kindle to add phone abilities, a non-reading task?

  3. Big thanks for the update, Alexander! I’ve changed the copy to mention AT&T and also address the lost-rev issue. It’s hard to sort out what’ll happen. But I do see Jeff as taking his rivalry with Steve very seriously, even if he’s also eager to exploit the iPhone and the rest as platforms for Amazon apps. He’s that kind of competitive soul. While he can’t add multimedia right now, the phone is something he could include—and I’m not sure if the past “just for reading” statements will stop him. Doesn’t mean he’ll definitely do so. But the technological capability is there. Just my opinion. Keep those great comments coming!


  4. “Suddenly it’s okay for the Kindle to add phone abilities, a non-reading task?”

    Sure, if it doesn’t take away from the reading tasks. See earlier comment. As for the BlueTooth issue, remember that the Kindle works with a headset and also that it’s very light to hold up for long periods of time.


    P.S. Isn’t Jeff going to open a third-party Kindle app store? Will all offerings be restricted to reading? I doubt it. Maybe he’ll even sell a phone option there.

  5. I don’t think the mick is for VoIP or cell service at all… I think it’s for command input for visually-impaired users, but that’s just a hunch on my part. It’ll be interesting to see how this unfolds in the next few weeks and months. I have a K3 3G unit on order… TR

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