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eBooks are from the Department of Bad Ideas

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 12/10/06 (12:36pm)

Sony eBook Reader Someone asked about eBooks on one of the library lists I'm on. They wanted to know what the prospects were. I responded on the list but I thought I'd share my opinion here as well.

I've never really understood the rationale behind these devices. I mean, I already have something that reads "electronic books" -- it's called a laptop. If I wanted something even more mobile, I'd get a smaller laptop -- or maybe use my PDA. The advantages of using my laptop -- besides the fact that I already own it -- is that I can play most formats on it, and not just one.

Hallmark of Failed Techonogy: Sony Memory Stick Walkman (NW-MS7)Furthermore, my laptop can do more than just "read" the thing -- I can cut out parts, re-use it, send it to friends and colleagues. I can link to the file, 'digg it', list it on del.icio.us. In other words, I can do everything I've become accustomed to do on a computer in a networked environment. Why would I want something that could do anything less?

I think if the sole purpose of a device is simply to serve as a platform for a proprietary format, it's doomed. This kind of "lock-in" is not popular with consumers. Just ask Sony how its own version of the iPod is doing.

Institution: 

Hallmark of Failed Technology: Sony Memory Stick Walkman (NW-MS7)

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 12/10/06 (12:31pm)

Sony launched this unit amid much fanfare and expectations on the auspicious occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Walkman. Forget the iPod, which didn't even exist at this point, this player was supposed to be the successor to the fabled Walkman. Unfortunately because it only played Sony's proprietary format and showed more innovation in Digital Rights Management than features, it never got off the ground.

Sony showed it hadn't learned anything when four years later it released the Network Walkman NW-HD1, its 'iPod Killer' that also failed to gain any market acceptance.

Institution: