I've been avoiding writing about Amazon's new e-reader, the Kindle, for a few days, because, frankly, I don't care. I've got about 20 books sitting around the house waiting to be read right now, plus several hours of recorded TV shows, a Netflix subscription, more than a few magazines, and 1,000-plus feeds in Google Reader. So the last thing I need is an e-reader giving me access to an additional 90,000 books, plus the New York Times.
Still, I've kept up with news, including how the Kindle sold out, probably more because of a marketing gimmick than real demand. I've also read several reviews, and one thing keeps popping into my head: The Kindle is really what you want from an e-reader, and it could be useful. But Amazon is targeting the wrong market.
Consumers don't need the Kindle. Businesses do.
Stay with me. According to IT Business Edge blogger Rob Enderle, writing at e-Commerce Times, the Kindle is unique because it can connect and download wirelessly, plus it's very book-like, right down to the ridiculous fact that you need a light on to read it. Impressive, but generally, people don't suddenly want to read a book the way they might want to check the weather or hear that one hip-hop song that will not leave their heads. Even when I do finish one book, I like to sit and absorb it for at least an hour before I plunge into the next one. So, nice, but pretty nigh useless for consumers.
But for business, this all adds up to a good solution for a lot of problems where computers are just overkill or even a bad idea.
It would particularly appeal to businesses if Amazon added software that allows companies to easily create and push their own content -- magazines, business documents, RFPs, legal documents, whatever -- to the Kindle.
It's the perfect way to let business users take home documents without risking those documents being lost or damaged. It's also a great tool for disseminating policies, manuals and other booklets you might want to share with employees in a read-only form. Even with a retail price of $399, it'd soon pay for itself in reduced paper and printing costs.
Plus, businesses could save on business or trade magazine subscription costs. Companies could even offer Kindles for break room reading, giving employees an assortment of trade or news items to read - all of your choosing, of course.
Yes, it's an idea whose time has come ... just not to the right place.