Will Canadians buy the Kindle?
So, after much complaining and wailing from Canadians, Amazon's Kindle has finally hit Canada. The company, which launched the international version of its ebook reader a month ago, didn't offer in Canada at the time. Now, however, it has signed a deal with one of our national cellular providers (as yet unnamed), to provide wireless support for the device, which lets you buy books directly from Amazon without having to mess around with a PC or Mac at all.
The geek in me wants one immediately. The old school analogue lover of dead trees is appalled by the idea. The pragmatist in me says: wait. For one thing, I have a shelf full of books that I haven't yet read. I am eyeing them balefully now. I've had many of them for years, and they are weighty, worthy tomes which deserve to be read, and which give me a serious case of literary guilt every time I walk past them.
Secondly, the problem with new categories of technology is that they keep evolving. Apple is almost certain to come out with a tablet device next year, which will feature subscriptions to newspapers, along with the ability to buy books. It is unlikely to use the same kind of electronic paper technology that the Kindle does. I'm guessing it will be a very high resolution, capacitive touch screen display, much like the one you find on an iPhone or many other smart phones today. There will probably be a camera in it, too. And of course, it will have wireless capabilities.
The main thing that the Kindle has going for it is its powerful parent. Amazon rules the world when it comes to online book sales. But Apple has a habit of disrupting existing business models with new offerings. It did it with music, and then it did it with television shows and movies. There is a very good chance that books will be next. And if I'm going to buy a device to read books on electronically, I'd rather have one manufactured by a company with an impeccable design heritage. I'm waiting until the spring, when Apple will doubtless unveil something. Maybe by then I'll have finished one of the 30 books on my shelf that I bought to make me look smart. If I'm lucky.
Danny Bradbury, MSN Tech and Gadgets