Kindle2: Great white hope at the pink FT?

THE Kindle – a electronic book-reading device launched by Amazon.com – could help pull newspapers out of their plight, according to the chief executive of the Financial Times in London.

John Ridding said his newspaper might investigate whether to deploy a publishing strategy for the Kindle, which is currently sold only in the United States and costs US$359.

“The severe double whammy of the recession and the structural shift to the Internet has created an urgency that has rightly focused attention on these devices,” Mr Ridding is reported by UPI to have said.

The United Press International report said the Kindle2 had a “paper display” feature, which mimics how lighting hits the front of a newspaper, instead of the back lighting that is associated with a computer screen.

The report also quotes an IT pundit from Techcrunch saying that the CEO of the Financial Times was “clutching at straws”.

Got to agree.

If a chief executive of a newspaper wants to speculate about the future of this industry, then perhaps it would be best to give it some solid thought so their statements – which, by the way reflect not just their company but the quality of the industry as a whole – demonstrate some intellectual capacity and true corporate direction.

Tech gadgets come and go – all the time.

Surely no one seriously thinks Kindle can rescue anything. E-Readers have been around for an age and continually undeliver in terms of adoption rates.

The only way to turn that trend around is for some serious media players to through their weight behind development of a reader for newspapers, and then continuing creating a roadmap to continually improve not just the device but the flexibility and quality of the content that feeds its.

Among the publishers that are said to be looking into the form of publish are News Corporation and the US-based Hearst Group. Rumours continue that Apple and Sony both sense the change in the wind for print and are developing their own versions for newspapers.

However, there does not appear to be any hard evidence of their products yet. Both Apple and Sony are working on full-colour tablets with wireless connection. Having played around with a Kindle, it has black type on a grey background – a display not dissimilar to a quartz watch made in the 70s. It’s very uninspiring, but it might be a start.
Mark Hollands

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