Free Kindles! Free iPads! (This is not an advertisement! We promise!)
A reporter holds the new Amazon Kindle 2.0 at an unveiling event at the Morgan Library & Museum February 9, 2009 in New York City.
Kevin Kelly is an influential technology thinker. He's one of the founders of Wired magazine where he served as executive editor for the first seven years of that publication's existence. Kelly has noticed the plummeting price of the Amazon Kindle e-book reader. It went for $400 when it was first announced in 2007. Today, you can get a basic one for about $140. Kelly says that downward price trend line shows no sign of stopping and will soon result in Kindles being given away free, probably in time for the next holiday shopping season.
Amazon can do that, he says, because once you have a Kindle, you'll want to buy a whole lot of electronic books. Amazon makes a lot of money off each electronic book sold because there's no publishing process, no delivery process, just electronic files being pushed around. So at some point, the Kindle becomes like a little Amazon cash register you hold in your hand.
I asked him if the same thing will happen with the iPad or with smartphones. He said yes, eventually the availability of apps and movies and other content on portable mini-computers will make it easy to subsidize them to the point of being free. Not only that, books that you might read on a Kindle (or any other device) will eventually be free under a subscription model, in much the same way we get streaming Netflix movies already.
Also in this program, we dive into our 'O Internet What Hast Thou Wrought' file with a look at a creepy Facebook dating app called Waiting Room.