The Death of the Single Function Device?

On July 12, 2010, in Biz, by Tac Anderson

I went and saw Despicable Me with the kids this weekend. (It’s so fluffy!!)

Given the fact that I already hate commercials before the movies that aren’t previews to other movies I was instantly skeptical of a commercial for a new product and had to wonder if it was obsolete the minute it launched.

Introducing the V.Reader! A single function kids reader that seems a lot like the LeapFrog devices some of you may be familiar with.

My first thought was that an app on the iPad could do pretty much everything the V.Reader could. What’s the point? I guess if you didn’t want your kids playing with your iPad and it is only $60, but an app would be significantly cheaper.

Of course dedicated eBook readers seem to be doing okay and I’m even seriously considering getting one.

My second thought after wondering if this product was doomed from launch was that:

Dedicated single function devices need to be hackable .

I thought of the Roomba and the huge hacker/robotics community that’s sprung up around this device.

Last week I posted a video that mentioned that kids don’t use watches anymore because they’re single function devices only to have Marshall Kirkpatrick over at Read Write Web post later that daythat Fossils plan to turn the obsolete wrist watch into a platform for developers. I already want one.

A quick search revealed that even the Kindle is getting some interest among the hacker community.

The hacker urge in us runs deep. It may to just customize the look or full on replace the OS, or engine or drop the guts in something else but to me this seems like the only reason to get a single function tech device anymore.

I don’t know if I have the answer to the question I posed in my title but I do know that if I were building a device today I would really make sure that it was instantly hackable.

Tagged with:

My Pile of Work Books

Do you see that picture? That’s just the books I keep at work. They are almost all hardback and the ones on the corner of my desk are mostly ones I’ve purchased in the last 2-3 months.

This doesn’t count my book cases at home full of books or even the books Jen and the kids buy. We buy a lot of books. Emma and I both have this bad habit of reading multiple books at the same time and as we travel during the summer packing half a dozen books is cumbersome (Jen’s a book monogamist - one book at a time).

I’m really excited about ebooks. I am. I know I’ve held out on this little piece of tech longer than I normally would have. I really want to be able to carry around the hundreds of books I regularly reference. Okay hundreds may be an exaggeration but I really do regularly reference a lot of books. After carrying around 5 physical books in my backpack all week I’m finally ready to make the leap.

The Kindle* is really close to being the right device for me because it works on the device and across multiple devices, I like that. But after years of being burned by iTunes I don’t want yet another proprietary format. I like that Borders is offering the option to purchase ebooks in PDF. That’s a step in the right direction.

But there’s one big problem for me: I still want my physical book. When I have the preference I still like to read the physical book (it’s a tactile thing).

Will someone please sell the physical book with the option to purchase the PDF? I’m not going to buy the same book twice but I would honestly pay an extra $5-10 above the hardback price to download a PDF version of the book. I realized this could work after I downloaded Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations from and then still bought the physical book. Correy Doctorow and other authors are doing this more and more. I downloaded Makers and then still bought 3 hardcover copies for my brothers and one for myself.

I’m not even asking you to give away the electronic copy, I just want both. It’s not a revolutionary business model, it’s called bundling (I think I have a book that talks about it). Companies do this all the time. [Update: My friend and former business partner Rich Breton just informed me that O'Reilly has been doing this for years] If I had to, I could forgo the the PDF version for a proprietary format as long as I could still have the physical book and the e-format. I wouldn’t be happy about it and I wouldn’t pay a full $10 but would still pay at least $5. Put the handcuffs on me but just give me some options.

*Disclosure: Amazon is a client of my employer Waggener Edstrom

Join the New Comm Biz Facebook Page or follow along on Twitter.

Tagged with:

Bad Behavior has blocked 948 access attempts in the last 7 days.