Over the weekend my friend Kris and his family (yes, that Kris) came over for some dinner, some good conversation, and some better than average peanut butter cookies. Somewhere along the way, Kris and I got into a discussion about the new Amazon Kindle. In search of an e-reader that’s not an iPad, Kris was interested by the recent announcement of the Kindle 3 WiFi and its seemingly bargain-basement price.
And so we spent the next few minutes discussing the new Kindle. Apart from the massive selection of books and magazines in the Kindle Store, the Kindle also has the ability to pull web pages from Instapaper and display them as text-only on the Kindle, a feature that’s great for those that subscribe to multiple blogs and news sources and want to read them in a convenient newspaper like format (see here for more on how to use Instapaper)
Later that evening Kris went home and asked for Kindle opinions via Facebook. Predictably, the very first comment was “Dude! Get an iPad!!” (said in your best Bill S. Preston, Esquire voice). Round and round they went, the commenter and Kris, never quite seeing eye to eye; Kris said repeatedly that he was looking for a dedicated e-reader that hit a lower price point and functionality combination than the iPad; the commenter kept repeating the phrase “game changer,” somewhat unwilling to accept the premise that anyone could want something other than what he wants.
And thus underlines one problem with social media: often the most basic elements of segmentation are overlooked by the online vocal minority. They complain about the iPhone’s lack of “advanced functionality,” even though the iPhone seems to be targeted at the fat part of the adoption curve (translation: the larger, less technically adept segments). They make sweeping statements like “Everyone wants a Verizon iPhone!!” and ask questions like “Who would want a Wii when you could have a Playstation 3?!?” They generally forget that there are groups of people out there completely unlike themselves, people who want phones that make calls, email that’s intuitive, and an e-reader that has access to hundreds of thousands of books, magazines, and newspapers. And while they understand the iPad and its coolness, they don’t really care enough to actually buy one.
My point here is that its easy to get lost in the echo chamber that is the blogosphere, to get swept up in the pomp and circumstance that leads many to believe that everyone must be just like them. But the world is a bit more interesting than that. Just like there’s no one perfect spaghetti sauce, there’s no one perfect e-reader solution, and its important for us to remember that.