Amazon launches Kindle

Lots of words today throughout both the blogs and the regular media about Kindle, Amazon’s e-book reader that was launched today. It’s a testament to Amazon’s juice that anyone’s paying attention at all – e-book readers in the past have been greeted mostly by crickets.

Is it going to keep our attention? That’s harder to say. It seems that the specs are reasonably interesting – long battery life, decent (though not exceptional) storage capacity, interesting (if fussy) form factor.

Beyond that, there’s a huge differentiator – the built-in EVDO magic means that it can be a standalone device that nevertheless has very good access to a potentially very deep well of material.

The devil, however, is always in the details. To do what Amazon is doing requires pretty heavy DRM and very controlled pathways into (and out of) the device. The main comparison has been to the iPod – but there’s a huge difference (one that Gruber’s Daring Fireball also mentioned): you can’t get your own content in there. Other than high-production-value game consoles (and even those have opened up recently), can you think of a single other successful platform that has been tied to a single content supplier?

On the Internet, content may be king… but we’ve learned in the last 4 years or more that a LOT of that content is going to be my own in some way – my own writing, or at the very least, my own collection (or playlist). Along the long tail, the things that I make myself become just as important to me as the things I can buy, and curating all of that is the primary way of interacting with the long tail. If you assume that the long tail (of text) refers only to things that can be bought… I think it’s a vision of the long tail that might seem reasonable but will confound most users.