Sunday, November 20, 2011

First Week with Kindle Fire

My first impressions of the Kindle Fire are quite positive. In most ways, I cannot believe the thing only cost $199. I haven't tried everything, but so far I recommend the Kindle fire.

What I like:
1. Portability: It is easier to carry around than my K2 (even w/Marware case). For my young children, it is a perfect size.
2. Readability: The screen is easier to read than my laptop or the iPad1 for book text.
3. Speed: It is snappy. It makes our iPad1 feel slow
4. Browser: It just works. I need to learn a few more of the 'tricks' though. So expect a later review.
5. Second way to view books. This moved 3 books, already read, to the top of the TBR pile. I rather like searching by covers.
6. Value. The iPad in a child's hands is something one must watch (to keep it safe)
7. Setup. Just remember it will need wifi and a while on the charger for initial patch download.

What I am 50/50 on:
1. Battery life. It is trending towards 7 hours of battery life on mixed use (games and reading). Compare this versus 9+ hours on the iPad1. My family has used up the battery before the day was done. But it was needing a charge after we arrived back home.
2. The onscreen keyboard. Perhaps it is the 7" screen crimping the layout and my man fingers?
3. Eye strain. Its less than a laptop or iPad, but far more than e-ink. I've read three books on the Kindle fire with far less stain than other (non-Nook) LCDs. I intend to keep the K2 for most book reading.
4. Screen size. I love the portability, but the screen in landscape mode is only as wide as the iPad's in portrait. It is perfect for books. Ok, for simple games (angry birds, etc.), ok for browsing (in landscape only), and... Its ok.

What I do not like:
1. Highlighting text in the browser is done how? This crimps participating in blogs. In fact, I spend too much time on blogs to ever have a tablet be more than a second computer. This is true of our iPad and certainly true of the Kindle Fire.
2. No SD card slot. This would make life much easier.
3. Some of the commands have too small a difference between one command and the other and thus it is almost random
4. How do you turn off ordering without a password? Seriously, my three year old has figured out the store. How do I loan her the Fire without finding a hundred new apps, books, and videos loaded? I worry about the Amazon store integration too when loaning to a young child...

What I haven't tried:
1. Sideloading. So much of my Amazon content was available I haven't needed to yet. I will be moving over my mp3 collection soon as well has home videos.
2. Organizing my books. I'm just not seeing an easy way, so I'll have to Google how to do it. I wish my K2's collections had moved over... :( Why repeat that work...
3. Videos. We already, through other means, have free shipping from Amazon. I haven't been able to justify paying for Prime for the videos... I might in the future.

I've read some negative reviews on the Fire I just do not get. Ok, the navigation isn't iPad navigation; it took me a day to find all the tricks. If you've never used an iPad/iPhone, the controls will be just as easy to learn as Apple's. There are some quirks with the control interface, but only that notable if you come over from the iPad. The Fire isn't an iPad replacement; it is so cheap and portable it creates a new category that I believe will sell far more units.

In price, it competes with the 8GB iPod touch. But doing "screen area is proportional to diagonal squared," I couldn't imagine doing more than a 'snap read' on a 3.5" screen. Most of those I know who read on smartphones become annoyed at the page turns after ten to fifteen minutes of reading (the format doesn't 'fade away' as with a Kindle e-ink). With the Kindle Fire, it is suitable for an hour or two of reading. That said, for long reads I will turn it off and return to the K2.

For kids books, it is excellent! However, my three year old isn't able to navigate as easy as the iPad1. For books with graphs, the Kindle Fire works well too.

I've found is that due to its portability it is far more useful. It fits in my coat pockets or cargo pant pockets (again, it is smaller than a K2) so it is far more likely to travel than our iPad. My one regret? It doesn't have a cell phone interface! If it did (and a camera w/more flash storage), it would be an ideal convergence device.

I expect the Kindle Fire to sell out. For the price, it is that good.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

31.4% growth Ereaders in 2012? No... Faster!

Digitimes is predicting ereader sales slow their growth in 2012 (globally) vs. 2011 to only 31.4% YOY growth. That link is also predicting that Amazon's share:

2008: 65.7%
2009: 63.4%
2010: 62.8%
2011: 73.7% of 22M ereaders.

My comments: For there only to be 31.4% growth after 100% growth year after year doesn't make sense. Market penetration tends to be symmetrical until a new technology displaces the old. Considering how many new buyers of the lower cost Kindles are coming out of the woodwork, I expect far faster growth in 2012. But... I also expect 2012 to be the last year of fast ereader growth.

It takes 2 to 3 years of ereader sales in a region to stimulate the growth. Book readers want to see their friends try out an ereader before they 'give up the smell' of books. The K1 was launched in 2007; we've yet to see more than about a quarter of books selling via ebook (in dollars).

I'm also very bullish on Amazon doing well in India (due to the quantity of people there who have the ability to read in English). With the new Kobo buyout, I'm also more bullish on ereaders in Asia (Japan in 2012, but all of Asia in the next 5 years).

My prediction is 45 to 55 million ereaders in 2012 (global prediction). I also predict, in 2012, that about 25% of the growth in ebooks will be via tablets (Kindle Fire, iPad 2/3, Nook Tablet, other tablets). In my opinion the rapid growth of ereading on cell phones is coming to an end. Oh, I predict new readers will still try out the Kindle app on cell phones and existing ereaders will take 'convenience reads' on their cell phones. My opinion is based on how many people are switching from reading on their cell phones to ereaders or tablets. 7" tablets are small enough to tote around (10" tablets are not... trust me. I made the mistake of lugging our iPad around today).

I wonder how the overall ebook market share will go. I'm waiting to see how the Kobo buyout works. IMHO, that could be the #1 global threat to the Kindle.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

August 2011 Ebook Sales

As David noted, time to dust off the charts, we have AAP numbers.

Note: Its late, kids didn't want to sleep and I have an early meeting. So I'm just going to note that ebook sales were good, trade sales show a downward trend that is in line with prior months. I'm also skipping some graphs (Mea Culpa). But the main data is here for your enjoyment:

The only seasonal is ebooks in bar format: