Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kindle: International Web-Access Device Won't Connect to Web Outside U. S.

"Crippleware Alert! International Kindle Gets No Web Access Outside U.S."
Gadget Lab, Wired (October 12, 2009)

"Due in stores next week, the international version of the Kindle will open Amazon’s e-book store to overseas customers. But it comes at a cost: For anyone using a Kindle outside the United States, the device will be severely hobbled. Amazon is closing off a wireless feature that allows access to the reader’s web browser.

"The newest Kindle won’t allow anyone outside the United States to surf the web or read blogs using the reader’s experimental web browser. That takes away one of the device’s major selling points — always-on, free and ubiquitous internet access:..."

"...Hidden in the features section of the product page is this line: 'Amazon pays for Kindle's wireless connectivity so you won't see a monthly wireless bill.'..."

The author speculates that Amazon would be hit with massive roaming charges if the "international" gadget was actually allowed to be used outside American borders.

You - Have - Got - to - Be - Kidding!!

It gets better.

This new "international" Kindle plugs right into a wall outlet. If you're on the North American power grid. In Europe? No problem: all you have to do is fork over $300-plus dollars (including shipping) for an adapter.

International. Ri-i-ight.

I'm with the review's author: the power adapter situation isn't so much of a deal-killer as the lack of Internet connectivity in a device whose main selling point is - it's Internet connectivity.

It'd be like an American company selling a telephone that included a makeup mirror and cigarette lighter - and would only connect to a telephone system in California. Great for Californians, but not all that useful anywhere else.

What, By All That is Sane, Happened?!

The author speculates that disabling connectivity outside the U. S. is based on economics: that Amazon can't afford - at this point - the additional cost. Likely enough.

That doesn't explain, though, why a company would deliberately tout a product whose main selling point was its Internet connectivity, which was described as "international," and then make Internet connections impossible (except, perhaps, to hackers) outside the United States.

It's like the marketing decisions were made by executives in the not-nearly-fictional-enough company that Scott Adams' Dilbert works for.

I suspect that this new Kindle was developed by very competent engineers; that professionals in the marketing department developed the advertising campaign; and that somewhere along the line people in bookkeeping did their job, and passed along projected costs for Internet connectivity outside the 50 states.

I worked in marketing for a decade or two, depending on how you look at it: and I've known engineers, accountants and executives. All those groups have their share of nincompoops, but I think it's particularly, ah, interesting when a nincompoop executive is in charge.

Or, more charitably, an executive who is clueless about how people are likely to react when an "international" device with a primary function of connecting to the Internet - won't.


1 comment:

Michiel Brumsen said...

Except, that it does connect to the internet. In Belgium, at least.

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