Posts from Amazon Kindle

A Changing Tablet Market?

I saw this in a story I was reading this morning about mobile reading habits:

A year ago, the iPad accounted for 81% of tablets in circulation. That has fallen to 52%, with Android-based tablets grabbing a 48% share of the market. Amazon’s Kindle Fire accounts for far and away the largest slice of those: half of the Android tablets in use are Kindle Fires, and they represent 21% of the overall tablet market.

If that's true, that is a big deal. Our family has moved from iPads to Nexus 7s in our home but I didn't think the rest of the world had moved to Android tablets too.

I am curious if others are surprised by this. I honestly had no idea that Android had made such a big move in tablets. I realize Kindle Fire is hardly Android. More like a third tablet OS. So it's really like iPad 52%, Android 27%, Kindle Fire 21%. But even so, this is a big deal and I am surprised.


Android Fragmentation

Android is fragmented and geting more so. This is a challenge for those that develop on it for sure and has been often cited as a big negative for the Android ecosystem. But it also a big plus.

I have a Kindle Fire on my bedstand. I use it primarily to read on in bed having moved to a Nexus 7 as my primary tablet device. The Kindle Fire uses Android as its OS and then puts a Kindle shell on top which makes it look and feel like something other than an Android. But almost every app that I have on my Nexus 7 is also on my Kindle Fire. The reality is that if you build for Android, you are also building for Kindle Fire.

When Amazon launches a phone, it would be my expectation that the experience will be a lot like Kindle Fire. Meaning it will be running Android with a Amazon designed shell on top.

And then there is Facebook. I have to believe that Facebook will build a phone in the same way. Start with Android and then put its own wrapper and apps on top. If that happens, I would imagine I would be able to run all my favorite Android apps on the Facebook phone.

So imagine a world in which three of the top four consumer tech companies have phones running Android. Does that sound like a fragmented world for Android? Yes. Does that sound like a recipe for having a massive number of Android devices out there to build to? Yes.

In my view, we are in a two OS world for mobile and I think we are going to stay there. I think Apple will own the high end with the best and most integrated experience. And I think Android and its many variants will own the rest of the market. I think everyone else is playing for crumbs in terms of market share and would be better off joining the Android variant parade.

What does this mean for developers? It means build for iOS and Android and ignore everything else. And I think it increasingly means you have to be on both iOS and Android as soon as you can. I have advocated for building for Android first and iOS second. I think that strategy will start making more and more sense for apps that aren't looking to be paid.

Fragmentation cuts both ways. It's bad and it's good. Long term, I think it is a big plus for Android.


Fun Friday: What I'm Reading Now

Two weeks ago, we used Fun Friday to talk about movies to see. It was fun. And I got a list of movies to watch that will last me months and months.

In the same vein, we are going to talk about books today. Not the best books of all time (maybe we'll do that some friday), but what we are reading right now.

I'll start with my list:

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami – This is the english translation of the Japanese original. It's a surreal story of a man's search for his cat and then his wife. I've been working on this book since the thanksgiving holiday. I hope to finish it soon. I've never read any Murakami and I've been told this is his best work. I'm enjoying it very much.

Super Sad True Love Story – Gary Shteyngart – My friend Nick Bilton told me to put this on my Kindle. It's up next after Wind-Up Bird. It's a "dystopian vision of the near future." I love reading about the future. This is going to be my kind of book.

Feeding Eden – Susan Weissman – My partner Andy's wife Susan has written a book that is available for pre-order and will come out in a couple months. The Gotham Gal has the gally. She read it over the last couple days and blogged about it yesterday. Now it's on my reading list.

Boomerang – Michael Lewis – My father in law and my brother in law both recommended this book to me recently. I like Michael's books and this is a topic – the failures of the weaker european economies – that I'm quite interested in.

I hope to get through all of these books over the next two weeks which I'll be spending on our family's annual year end vacation. If I get through all of them, I'll just reach into this comment thread for the next purchase on my Kindle.

OK, your turn now folks. Please drop links into your comments if you can find the time to do that.


kindle fire

When Amazon opened up pre-orders for the kindle fire, I bought one immediately. I received mine on Tuesday and I've been playing with it for a few days. So I thought I'd post a few thoughts.

A lot of what you think of kindle fire will depend on what your use case is. If you are looking for a less expensive iPad, then this is not for you. But if you, like me, are looking for a kindle with a browser on it, this could well be the device for you.

My biggest frustration with the kindle is that I can't jump out of the book and do a quick map lookup, wikiepedia lookup, google images lookup, etc. I blogged about that a few months ago. I've solved that problem by moving all my reading from the kindle to the kindle app on the iPad. But the 11" form factor of the iPad isn't ideal for me. I like something a bit smaller for reading on the couch, plane, or in bed. So that is why I hit the pre-order button immediately when Amazon announced kindle fire.

A number of critics have said that kindle fire is slow. I have not experienced that very much. It seems plenty snappy for me. Again, I'm mostly using it for reading and light browsing. I am not doing email on it. I am not doing spreadsheets on it. Graphics rich applications like Google Maps do seem to be slower on the kindle fire though.

So with all that said, here's a quick tour. The main screen is what you'd expect. Navigation and apps.

Kindle fire main screen

Just a word to the wise. Those Twitter and Facebook apps are web apps, not android apps or kindle fire apps. One of the things I don't understand is why the kindle fire doesn't run android apps natively. I think that's a huge mistake on Amazon's part. The Netflix app is a native kindle fire app.

The best part of this device is the kindle functionality. This is a kindle with an OS and a modern browser. Here's the book library and the book reader.

Kinde fire book library

Kindle fire book reader

As a book reading device, kindle fire works great. It is heavier than a kindle, about the same weight (I think) as an iPad. But because it is a smaller device and the same weight, it feels heavier in the hand. That said, I do not have any issue reading on the kindle fire for long lengths of time (same with iPad).

The browser great for reading. Here's the Gotham Gal's blog on the kindle fire.

Kindle fire browser

I do have a few issues with the way Google Maps works on the Kindle Fire browser. It seems less functional and a bit slower.

In addition to books and web, the kindle fire has tabs for newstand, music, video, docs, and apps. The only tabs that interest me on that list are apps and videos. I use the web to access everything else on that list (and much of the video I watch is also on the web). I used kindle fire to watch a youtube video in full screen mode on the treadmill this morning and it worked great (with headphones on).

The app store looks like this. It is pretty sparse right now from what I saw.

Kinde fire app store

Amazon Prime Instant Video is a pretty awesome service. We use it a lot in our home on our mac mini (sure wish it was available on Boxee). Here's what that service looks like on the kindle fire.

Kindle fire video store

So that's a quick tour of the kindle fire. I think it will replace the iPad next to my bed as my primary reading device. It's smaller and fits better in the hand. And while it is not much lighter, it still feels like a better reading device. The browser works fine. I can jump back and forth between reading and browsing easily.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the family reacts to it. I will put it on our family room coffee table for a few days next to the iPad and see what the rest of the family thinks. If I learn anything interesting, I will report back.

Bottom line – if you are in the market for a kindle or a new kindle, consider this. If you are looking for a less expensive tablet, this is not a good choice, at least yet. I think the android tablets are a better choice for that.

Additional reviews:

Mossberg on Kindle Fire

Pogue on Kindle Fire


HTML5 (continued)

Last fall I wrote a blog post saying that I had seen a few super slick HTML5 mobile web apps and it got me thinking that the era of apps in a browser was closer than I had previously thought.

This week I saw a couple more that really blew me away.

Kindle in a browser has arrived and it is sweet. Here's our library in safari on our kitchen iPad:

Kindle browser

And here is what the reading experience looks like on the same tablet:

Kindle 2

Basically identical to the Kindle app experience. And it also supports offline reading by storing the books on the device. Very sweet.

And our friends at Etsy have rolled out item pages in HTML5 on Android. Here's an item page on my phone:

Etsy android fixed

And checking out via HTML5 is a breeze:

Etsy 2 fixed

So I'm even more encouraged today than I was last fall. HTML5 mobile web apps are taking us back to the web on mobile, where you can follow a link, go from service to service, don't need to download anything, and get shit done. That's a world I want to live in.


Some More Thoughts On Kindle and Reading On An iPad

I posted yesterday about highlighting and sharing quotes from books. I figured I'd make it a Kindle weekend here at AVC and talk about one other reason I love reading on an iPad and how Amazon could make it even better for me.

When I read, particularly biographies and other non-fiction, I love to hop out of the book and onto the web to get more details. I've been doing this a ton while reading Life, Keith Richard's biography.

When Keith talks about growing up in Dartford, riding bikes around the Heath, I hop out of the Kindle app and into Maps and find the map of Dartford and check out satellite views of the Heath. It's like taking a quick trip there to get some context.

When Keith talks about Andrew Loog Oldham, their first manager, I hop over to Wikipedia and get the lowdown on the guy. It makes the story more interesting to me.

When Keith talks about how beautiful Anita Pallenberg was when he met her, I hop over to Google Images and see what he's talking about. It turns a story into a movie in my mind.

Reading on an iPad via the Kindle app makes all of this pretty easy. I do it all the time. But imagine if, when you highlight something on the Kindle, you get a few more options, like Maps, Wikipedia, Images. Clicking on one of them takes you right to where you want to go. It would be killer. I hope Amazon adds this feature. I'd use it all the time.


Sharing My Kindle Highlights

When I read a book, I tend to do a lot of highlighting. I like to share many of them publicly on the web. I'm currently reading Keith Richard's biography Life and you can see the public sharing in action right now on my tumblog.

For years, when I came across a highlight I want to share, I pulled out my laptop and manually typed the quote into Tumblr. I do that with hardbacks, paperbacks, and the Kindle app on my iPad. It's a pain in the butt, but the desire to share the quote is such that I've been doing it.

I was with my friend Steven Johnson yesterday and he told me about a trick that is a game changer for me and maybe you too. When you are reading on a Kindle (or a Kindle app), your highlights are sent to a private page at The address of my page (and yours too I imagine) is If you have a kindle and do a lot of highlighting, go visit that page and you'll see all of your highlights.

From there, via the tumblr bookmarklet, it's trivial to share the quote on Tumblr. And so I suspect I'll be doing quite a bit more sharing as a result of this discovery.

Amazon has a gold mine on its hands but they aren't doing much with it right now. First off, they should let me make that page public or at least let me make some of the highlights public and showcase them on a public page. They should let me domain map that page so it becomes part of my social media presence. And they should let me connect that page with Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who does a lot of highlighting and would like to share many of the highlights with the world at large. Curation is a huge part of social media and discovery and pulling quotes from books and sharing them is a big opportunity and one that Amazon should work to unlock for us.