Does Amazon really care about the Kindle?

Which is more important -- the razor or the razor blades?

Yes, I've seen plenty of Kindles when I've been travelling, but its still in the classic "early adopter" phase.  I have no doubt that many who buy the Kindle love it.  After all, they're shelling out big bucks for a single purpose device.  And if you love something, it's a lot easier to overlook some of the limitations: slow screen re-fresh, poor PDF support, crappy browser, no Wi-Fi connectivity, no availability outside the U.S.

[ Related: InfoWorld's Savio Rodriguez asks "Why did Amazon open-source its Kindle software?" | Keep up with the latest open source news with InfoWorld's open source newsletter and topic center. ]

And the new larger Kindle DX doesn't seem to offer a lot of improvements other than a bigger screen and a bigger price tag.  In fact, Engadget called the DX's keyboard the worst ever.

And despite these limitations, the Kindle still has the best eReader experience.  But it begs the question why someone doesn't design a better device to work with the Amazon store.  And maybe that's what Amazon has in mind.  After all, the name 'Kindle' says it all.  It's about starting a new business.  So maybe Amazon is fine with a pionneering device that's really just the proof of concept.  If they can sell a couple of hundred thousand Kindles to get the market started, that's great.  But if they can inspire other manufacturers to create an even better reading experience that will drive a larger volume of eBook purchases, that's the ultimate way to create a high margin, disruptive business.  Heck, they've even published the source code to some of the Kindle libraries under the GPL.

So maybe the Kindle is just the Rio of eBook readers and ultimately, someone else will create a high-volume iPod experience.  If you can make up the volume on razor blades, who cares who sells the razor?

You can follow Zack Urlocker on twitter at  But why you'd want to is anyone's guess.

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