Back in August when the rumor mill was cranking out whisperings of a new e-reader from Amazon I was pretty excited. Before that point, my only interactions with the Kindle had been through my grandfather. He had raved to me about its ability to change font size so it could be read without glasses, but given that my eyes were just fine and I didn't mind the feel of paper, I was not so captivated by the e-reader. I wanted something that I could use in class, something that could do more than just display text, so I turned my gaze to the tablet by Apple.
However, when Amazon announced it had new e-readers in the works, I became hopeful that the next Kindle would provide the multipurpose utility I had looked for in earlier models. Looking at my own needs, it seemed the perfect opportunity for Bezos & Co to solve a great challenge I had encountered in college: essay writing.
As a student, the Kindle was appealing for three reasons. First, it was small and lightweight. Second, thanks to the e-ink display it was easy on the eyes. Third, it provided focus. Unlike reading on an iPad, or browsing on the computer, there was no opportunity for distraction. In a world consumed by push notifications, updates, and instant messages, there was appeal in a device that forced you to detach. Especially for students, creating that focus can be a real challenge.
This challenge is especially the case when writing essays. Procrastination is worst when you're stuck at a computer, tasked with regurgitating lecture notes, all the while tempted by Facebook, Youtube, and the swarm of distractions that are the web. Bezos had the chance to put an end to this productivity deathtrap. He could eliminate the pain of glaring screens and hours of computer work. Let people write on a Kindle, not just read.
Unfortunately, Amazon's new tablet created the antithesis of this space of clarity and zen focus. While Amazon did launch new e-readers, the main focus of Bezos' presentation was the Kindle Fire. It offered games and videos at the touch of a finger (just what we students need). However, despite Bezos' design decision, there is still huge potential for a dual purposed e-reader even if it didn't make it onto Amazon's shelves. Here's why:
Each product Amazon manufactures is tied somehow to it's online services. The company is able to make money selling a Kindle for $79 (or less when it sells wholesale to retailers) because it knows that for every Kindle purchased, it will sell a dozen e-books for $11 each. Word processing on the Kindle would act similarly. By saving online the documents that users compose, Amazon could tie e-book customers to Amazon Cloud Drive -- its cloud-storage services that functions much like Dropbox. Thus Amazon Kindlers could provide a continuous revenue stream not only through the sales of e-books, but also through the monthly subscriptions of those turned on to Amazon Cloud.
Additionally, Amazon would be able to increase sales to consumers disinterested in a single function device. For students, paying a hundred dollars for a tool to both read books and draft documents is a better deal than Groupon. It also makes a lot of sense for journalists, bloggers, and the myriad of other individuals that consider themselves content creators. Plus, if Amazon made word processing accessible through bluetooth, it would have the opportunity to up-sell its customers on a brand new keyboard to accommodate their shiny e-Reader.
Underneath it all, however, all these business factors are just icing on the cake. The most compelling reason for a Kindle word processor is that it gives more to the user. It makes a better product, and that in the end is the only thing that really matters.