Books written by Ray Sullivan

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Amazon Coming Under Fire

After the initial excitement at the release of the Kindle Fire in November, there were a number of lack-lustre reviews from the technical press. I reported on these at the time and pointed out that the techies can be a little more demanding than the average user of technology – partly as a result of experiencing the cutting edge on a regular basis and partly through actually knowing what they’re doing.
But then the users started to receive their Fires and were actively posting every stage of the arrival on social networks such as Twitter like a stripper taking her clothes off – Tweet: parcel just arrived; Tweet: Taking box out of bag; Tweet: pulling Fire out of box. You get the idea, I’m just glad the battery comes fitted.
But a month on and the excitement seems to be waning. The minimalist approach to the Fire, creating a need to operate virtually everything via the touch screen, is turning into a bone of contention. I know we shouldn’t compare the Fire to the iPad – there’s a $200 - $300 price difference between the two devices – but the need to use the screen controls to adjust volume and turn sound on and off is proving irritating.
It sounds like the screen accuracy and response is compounding the irritation – simple controls are difficult to operate accurately and there are numerous reports that the screen takes an excessive amount of time to react – to be honest, a slow operating screen can make the accuracy appear to be poor – we’re all used to touch screens through exposure to smart phones and/or iPads and will start to multiple stab if the screen doesn’t react as fast as we expect, confusing the interface.
It does look like some of these accusations are related to using Apps designed for ten inch screens and at least one pundit has suggested that Apps designed for smart phones should be OK. Of course, Amazon have denied access to the Android Market so that will limit the Apps available – my hunch is that they need to encourage developers to design Apps that do work, or perhaps lift the restriction. I know, expecting Amazon to encolurage free trade is a stretch, given their pitch to bribe authors away from their ebook publishing competitors this week, (See Amazon Aiming For Exclusive Author Rights) but I guess I’m a bit of an optimist by nature.
One bright light on the Fire horizon is the suggested ten inch version, apparently slated for Spring, in the US at least. What Amazon have to hope is that they haven’t accumulated too much bad press around their product by then, as a ten inch device would appear to be what the buying public want. If they can sort out the niggles and package the Amazon cloud environment correctly, then they might just be able to challenge Apple next year. But Kobo for one, will be nipping at their heels, in the UK at least, having launched the Vox ahead of the Fire over here, as industry pundits are hinting that Kobo are also looking at a ten inch version. So the battle could well rage all next year. It’s all a matter of speculation now whether the Fire will light the way or burn itself out.!


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