Newsweek has the scoop: Amazon is to introduce an ebook reader called Kindle. What’s interesting about this compared to the Sony eBook reader is that it’s completely self-contained. Instead of being tied to a PC for downloads, it uses a system based on EVDO to download its own content.
What none of the reports seem to talk about is the form of digital rights management (DRM) which Kindle uses. In theory, if it’s a totally closed product, then it shouldn’t need much – but in practice, I suspect it will be heavily tied to Amazon, and regularly check back with Amazon to determine if the content it’s carrying is licensed to you.
However, if it relies on any kind of key-checking system over that EVDO, then Robert Scoble is going to be disappointed:
“All I’ll say until tomorrow is you gotta try this device. It’s not perfect, but for long-form reading it is a wonderful device. I am going to buy one of my own. It’d really be great to have on our trip to Europe for the plane ride next month cause my Mac’s batteries only last two hours each (I have two of them) and the flight is 10 hours.”
EVDO doesn’t work in Europe, so if it has to check content keys, it won’t work.
The DRM question is vital to the success of Kindle. If it offers less convenience than a book, if it fails for example to allow you to lend copies to friends – or even sell on your own copy permanently to someone else – then it will ultimately fail. The only way it would succeed in these circumstances is either to be incredibly cheap (it isn’t) or have so many great features you’d be a fool not to buy it. As far as I can see, there’s no features here that are truly compelling enough to justify the losses involved in not having a physical object.
Of course, I’ll be happy to be proved wrong.