Today I had a random conversation about ebooks in general and the Kindle in particular at the most unlikely place – a random security check at Copenhagen airport. I’ve been taken out for these extra, thorough checks a couple of times, and they really do go over everything – turning on and checking each bit of electronics, looking through the items in your carry-on bag, etc. This takes time, and so there’s time for a chat. And as has happened frequently of late, the Kindle was what spurred the conversation.
Both security officers were interested in ebooks, intrigued by the possibilities, and quite well-informed. They wanted to know all about how I liked the Kindle – usability, how it is as a travel companion, the selection of books, the feel of it compared to a “real” book and compared to other devices, etc. They were impressed with all that. However, their concern was Amazon – or, rather, the Amazon business model even if that was not the words they used. They checked if I could buy books elsewhere than Amazon, about Amazon being able to delete my books. They were clearly skeptical about the Kindle and worried about the level of control Amazon has. They expressed interest in new, more open devices coming out.
This is good. It is good to hear that caution about single-vendor control and focus on open platforms has hold outside the geek community. It is also a sign that Amazon need to worry about this. Amazon still has a whopping lead and a chance to make good on first-mover advantage; However, if this kind of Kindle skepticism takes hold in the public, the advantage of the Kindle might erode so fast it ends up a millstone around Amazons neck.