Competition for the Kindle?

Via Verizon To Support Kindle Rivals – Technology – redOrbit.

“Competitors to the Kindle are out there and ready,” [Verizon head of device certification Tony Lewis] told Reuters. “In 2009 I’d expect them to come to the market.”

A while ago, Verizon announced plans to open their network to third-party devices, and gadget-loving users began to salivate at the thought of a fully open network.  So far, Verizon hasn’t delivered.

But maybe this will be the year.  Amazon has been unable to keep the Kindle in stock.  People have suggested that sales numbers are exaggerated, but it still sells for more than the Amazon purchase price on Ebay, and that is probably a much less biased method to estimate the true demand.  People really seem to want these things, thanks in no small part to Oprah and her endorsement.

So why haven’t the competitors appeared already?  The technology in the Kindle is not groundbreaking.  The idea of a lifetime subscription to the data connection being included in the price hasn’t really been done before, but there’s nothing stopping anyone else from doing it.  Having a huge support system like Amazon certainly makes it easier for the Kindle, but Verizon is hardly a mom-and-pop outfit without any money and resources.

Perhaps it is Verizon and the other mobile carriers’ reluctance to accept a device that they have so little control over.  Verizon sells most of its phones with a proprietary operating system, which makes it easy for the less technically inclined to switch from one Verizon phone to another, but doesn’t foster innovation and growth.

Verizon must see the exclusive deals that its competitors have made on devices like the Kindle and the iPhone, and certainly someone has suggested it do the same.  It remains to be seen whether it will be before or after the next-generation Kindle, and whether or not anyone cares.

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