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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why the tech pundits got the Kindle wrong

A friend of my brother's recently asked me to get a Kindle for him. (Why? Because by tying the Kindle to my account, he got access to the well over 40 books in my Kindle library --- tying your Kindle to somebody more voracious a reader than you are means that you get back your $359 buy right away in content)

If you read reviews written when the Kindle first came out, you'll consider the device a failure. Those big buttons are too easy to press (leading to accidental page turns), and that keyboard gets in the way. Why buy an expensive device to read a book? A look over at Amazon's Kindle Forum, however, shows you why the Kindle is still sold out: the 20-something and 30-something tech pundits who are usually the tech industry's early adopters, aren't the early adopters this time. It's their 55-year to 75-year tech-phobic grandparents who are buying!

It turns out that two big things happen as you get older --- you start to lose your eye-sight (the world literally becomes a darker place), and you tend to get arthritis. If you look at the Kindle, it looks almost purpose designed to help you work around that. The easy-to-tweak font-sizes means that you can change the font sizes whenever you want and turn any book into a large-print edition. The big buttons means that even if you're arthritic or have some other disability, you can hit that button with your elbow, a pen held in your mouth, or your shaking hands.

It also turns out (by no coincidence) that the larger number of enthusiastic readers in this country are the older ones. So the fact that Amazon's still showing a 4-6 week delivery time means that they (unlike the tech pundits) really hit their target audience squarely, while Sony has again stumbled in their assessment as to what the market wants.

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