Left To My Own Devices

I’m sure I could be described as both complex and inconsistent.  I can be difficult to figure out a lot of times.  I know this because I spend a lot of time trying to figure myself out.  My latest interest in myself was raised by my new gadget toy.

I am a latecomer to the e-reader party.  I have joined the Kindle camp and I’m somewhat excited about it.  My reaction caused me to question why I was getting excited over a device.  I hadn’t had a similar feeling since I got my first Zune many years ago.  And that parallel is very odd and really spurred my curiosity.

I have always been a Zune fan, which has always been the underdog compared to the iPod behemoth.  But when buying an e-reader, I chose Kindle, which is the far-and-away leader in that industry – the iPod of e-readers.  Kindle users are passionate about their devices, much as Apple users are about their products.  Why would I buy in to the industry leader, Amazon, while I have such a disdain for Apple?  And why the Kindle and not the Nook?

Let’s start with a Kindle/Zune comparison vs. a Nook/iPod comparison.  The Kindle is a dedicated reading device, much as the Zune was a dedicated media player.  The Nook, in its popular Nook Color model, is a hybrid device for books, video, internet, and games, like the iPod.  So on that level, it is clear that I prefer a dedicated, specialized device to an all-in-one (something I’ve recently considered to be a generational thing).  Nook users talk up the positive points of their chosen device – the wider format compatibility, the expandable memory, and the color touch screen.  Kindle users just shrug and say “that’s not important to me.”  I sympathize with that.  All the iPod users hammering on “apps” didn’t mean anything to me, because that’s not why I bought my Zune.

The e-reader community doesn’t seem to have as hostile a membership as the portable media community.  It is more forgiving, like most of the motorcycling community, where if you’re on two wheels, you’re cool.  There’s no feeling of “you don’t have an iDevice, so you can’t experience things like I do.”  So, from what I can tell, Kindle and Nook owners pretty much respect each others’ choice, with iPad owners feeling superior to both.

So, being a supporter of the underdog, why would I choose Amazon over Barnes and Noble?  This is more difficult to answer, but I suspect it’s simply because I have used Amazon for so long and never had a single problem with them.  I’m sure B&N is good, too, but I just don’t have any history with them.  In this case, it’s inertia keeping me in the Amazon ecosystem.  And to have the “industry-standard” device to go along with it is a bonus.  Amazon is kind of the Wal-Mart of internet shopping, but somehow they manage to not have the same stigma.

Then, so far, I’ve identified that I like a device that is specialized and I like a community that isn’t perceived as elitist. I get both owning a Kindle and a Zune.  And I don’t feel I’m supporting an evil company by being tied to Amazon.

So what if Microsoft made an e-reader device?  That’s an interesting question.  If there’s one ecosystem I’m tied to more than Amazon, it’s Microsoft and .NET.  Although I would know deep down that the product wouldn’t be a huge success and that it would be dropped a few years down the line, I suppose I could enjoy it.  But I can’t think of any software that I could write to make use of the e-books, unlike the Zune and Windows Phone.  It’s just not that much of interest to me.

Comments are closed.