Friday, June 20, 2008

Customer experience review: Amazon Kindle

Detailed review of the Kindle ...

"Amazon made headlines a few months back when it launched the Kindle, its new handheld device - an ebook reader. After a recent recommendation from a friend who owns one, I bought a Kindle and have used it enough to review the customer experience.

If you haven't tried out a Kindle, a few clarifying details are necessary to set context:

• The Kindle costs over $300, and it comes with no books pre-installed - only the owner's manual.

• With some exceptions, you'll have to buy anything you want to read. For example, a novel that sells on Amazon for $15 may cost $7.50 to download onto the Kindle. There's no time limit on the text - it will remain on the Kindle until you delete it - but all you get, of course, is the download - not a paper copy.

• The Kindle's screen is in black-and-white and doesn't light up. This makes it easy to read during the day. At night, like reading an actual book, you'd need some light source to read the text on the screen. (See photos of the Kindle.)

With that context set, here's the "hook" of my review: the Kindle is fairly good, and it's bound to improve. With several fixes to its customer experience, this little device could become (or remain) the leading platform for reading ebooks for many years to come - and could very well transform the entire publishing industry.

But that all depends on the experience.

Pros

The current version of the Kindle has two main wins in its customer experience:

1. It's really easy to turn the page. Much like the button on the original Apple mouse, or the Pause button on a TiVo remote, it's impossible to miss the most important button on the Kindle: NEXT PAGE. If you're reading a book, you need that more (and more often) than anything else. The Kindle's large NEXT PAGE buttons, on both the left and right sides of the screen, are clearly labelled with text - not cutesy icons, like many car controls these days. Kudos to the design team for delivering on that essential.

2. Getting a new book is really fast. Whenever you want to buy a book to download onto the Kindle, you simply go to the Kindle store on Amazon (via any computer or the Kindle itself, which can connect wirelessly) and click the "buy" button. So far that's about the same as buying a printed book on Amazon - nice and easy. But unlike buying a printed book, when you click "buy" in the Kindle store, the book is available within a few seconds."    (Continued via Good Experience)    [Usability Resources]

Amazon Kindle - Usability, User Interface Design

Amazon Kindle

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