Saturday, May 9, 2009

iPhone 3G upgrade reactions and the Kindle

I just read some interesting stories about 1) the new iPhone 3G's features and pricing and the free upgrading of older iPhones at the same time (some companies do this for even large changes in system capability; and 2) the server-chaos that resulted from up to 6 million iPhone users attempting upgrades at the same time that first-time buyers were trying to get one.

  This did remind me of reactions from the Amazon Kindle community when Amazon said Wednesday, in response to reporters' questions, that there was no upgrade path for early Kindle users to the Kindle DX.

Two Kindle-owner requests I've read, in response:
  1) a question as to why the native pdf support for the DX is not made a firmware update for the Kindle 2 released late February so that inaccurate conversions don't have to be accepted (the small screen viewing affects conversions also) when Sony's 6" models can do this already (including even DRM-protected ones form the library, along with reading ePub files).

  2) some new Kindle-2 owners just past their 30-day trial period have requested the ability to update to the DX for the difference in price.  Many owners using their Kindle-2s since March (we are talking mainly April as an interval) are requesting some kind of upgrade-path at all, but Amazon's customer service responses are that Amazon's policy is that the Kindle-2 owner sell the unit, used, and then buy a new one.  Doable but some customers feel uneasy about the response.

 A key factor, as I've said before, is that with Kindles, as with cable-tv-program providers and their receivers, there is an ongoing $$ relationship with the vendor that involves the customer regularly buying (even eager to buy) the vendor's main products to use on that vendor's receiver.  So there is a disconnect there when Amazon shows no interest in upgrade paths.

Native PDF support
  I can understand the resistance based on publishers' concerns re DRM situations, but the Kindle 2 (with a faster processor than the Kindle 1) really should have the native pdf support for non-DRM'd PDFs as a feature when Sony was able to do this in 2008.
  Kindle users should also bear in mind though that some PDFs made for 8x11 pages will not be particularly readable on 6" screens,  and in some cases a conversion to a MOBI or prc file could work better for readability on text-based PDFs - which is still an option even when a unit has built-in Adobe support for PDFs.

  The Sonys have their drawbacks and lack of features though: no 24/7 wireless, an unclear PRS-700 screen and, on the PRS-505, no search feature whatsoever, no inline-dictionary, and no highlighting and annotation functions.

iPhone 3G rollout problems
With up to 6 million owners wanting to upgrade while new customers were in lines overnight for the new unit, and a new certification process put into place before the 3G capabilities could be accessed, many old phones stopped working and new phones could not be activated, to the degree that there are many stories about this.
  I'm surprised that Apple didn't foresee this though.  Their servers were hammered.  The best scenario for luckier users was not being able to update the old phone though it still worked otherwise.  iPod users can upgrade also, for $10.

iPhone 3G Pricing
  A plus for new iPhone users would be the drop in price.  Barely a year ago, the 8-gigabyte iPhone would have cost $600; the new 8-gigabyte 3G is $200. However, as David Pogue points out:
"The basic AT&T plan — unlimited Internet and 450 minutes of calling — now costs $70 a month instead of $60 (plus taxes and fees), and comes with no text messages instead of 200. (Adding text messaging costs at least $5 a month more.)"
Well, those who complain about the Kindle's price should note that the actual one-year cost of the iPhone with Internet (before taxes and without text messaging) is:
  $70/month x 12 months = $840 + $200, or a total of $1,040.00 for that first year.

Kindle-2 pricing
  The Kindle 2 with its 24/7 wireless access to the web is $360, and after you add up the Internet charges, the total cost the first year is ... $360.
  And in the 2nd year, no cost for Kindle use, while the iPhone would cost $840+ for the 2nd year.

  While some may not want a clear and good-sized e-reader with 24/7 wireless access to the Net, it's foolhardy to say, when understanding the costs of wireless and an e-ink screen, that a total cost of $359 is "too expensive."

Kindle-DX pricing
  And now an extra $130 total cost for the Kindle DX gets you a reading screen that is 2.5 times the surface area of the Kindle 2.

Kindle and the iPhone
Many have both the iPhone and one of the Kindles.  Makes sense to me, as long as you can afford it.  Especially with the KindleApp on the iPhone now and sync'd access to the Kindle library.

I do like the iPhone but AT&T's reception is not good here and and there are features I prize in my own cellphone (video recording with 3.2Mpixels that is quite good, voice dialing, business-card info-autoread, phone-to-phone photo-sending, and a memory card slot which I do use as the main space), which aren't included with the iPhone.  Apple's iPhone App Store has a terrific set of apps though that don't require transfers from the PC and no 'hacking' of the unit to run them.  I'll be interested to see what Apple and Verizon (my cellphone servicer) have in mind in June. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
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