This is a brilliant essay in the Guardian and I think all hardware reviewers should take note of it. Naughton discusses how people are making an “… an elementary schoolboy mistake, namely the assumption that, in a networked world, it is the hardware that matters most. According to this view, because the iPad, viewed purely as a device, was seen as incomparably superior to the Kindle, it followed that Apple would triumph in the ebooks market.”
He then goes on to say:
In the end, however, it’s not hardware that matters, but the effectiveness of the overall system in which the device is embedded. That was the great lesson of the Apple iPod: although the hardware was lovely from the outset, it would never have had the impact it had without the link to iTunes software on the PC/Mac and thence to the iTunes store. Other companies had made nice MP3 players, but none had put together a seamless system for getting music from CDs or online retailers on to them. Apple did and the rest is history.
You really should read the whole thing. In this regard, I don’t generally toot my own horn, but here are a couple of excerpts from an article I wrote in August of 2008 about Sony and Amazon. It’s entitled Amazon is right – Sony is wrong – Digital Editions sucks:
I like things simple as well. This hit me like a fish in the face when I installed Fictionwise’s eReader on my iPhone. Want a book – go to Fictionwise on the phone and download one. It hit me again, more like a whale in the face, when a I told a colleague about a free ebook being offered by Amazon. He has a Kindle and, while I watched he fired it up and downloaded the book while standing outside in the sunshine. No computer, no USB cable, no card reader, no Sony software, no Adobe software, no Calibre software, no conversion programs, no WiFi router. He bought a book without a computer – while standing outside in the sunshine. Get it?
He did something remarkable. He wanted a book and he bought it (albeit for free). What’s that like? It’s like going to a bookstore. Wow! NOW we are having fun.
As much as I dislike DRM and all the associated crap, what I have a profound respect for is that extremely difficult thing to attain – a painless consumer experience. Apple has achieved this with iTunes and Amazon is achieving it with the Kindle.
People are always commenting to me on my Sony Reader. I am now working directly in the consumer space and I’m amazed at how many people are attracted to the machine and would like one for themselves. When they ask me what they should do – the answer is clear: get a Kindle. The consumer wants, and rightfully so, things to be simple, easy and not to require technical expertise. The Kindle encompasses all of this. One stop shopping. Hey, buying an ebook is just the same as buying a box of cereal. The fact that you may not be able to finish the cereal because someone padlocks the box is another question. That’s the question we focus too often on here. Let’s get the cereal into the kitchen first.
Thanks to Frank Sleightholme for the link