Zero evolution in 2 years. Compare today's Kindle 2 and DX models to the original Kindle. The current versions have pretty much the same functionality as the original. And don't tell me native PDF support was a big change...that should have been there from the start! I had totally different expectations when I opened my Kindle v1 and saw the "experimental" features. Two years later, nothing is new there and the original experimental features never changed. Here's a great example of how there's been no feature evolution: We're all waiting anxiously to see if Amazon will actually add folder functionality. Are you kidding me?! That's another feature that should have been there all along.
Amazon isn't a hardware vendor. Hardware isn't Amazon's specialty. Far from it. Just look at the Kindle's design, UI and how it operates and you quickly realize if this is as good as it gets Amazon has no business in the hardware space. (Btw, how many outstanding software/content companies are also rock stars when it comes to hardware? I can only think of one: Apple.)
Competitors are passing them by. B&N's Nook is what the Kindle should have been. See details here. I'm not saying the Nook is the answer, but Amazon's lack of innovation is making it easier for new devices to leapfrog the Kindle.
Closed platforms are dead. Even Apple opens the iPhone platform for extensibility. Amazon should have not only allowed but encouraged third-party extensions and apps for the device. What sort of new and exciting functionality would exist for the Kindle today if Amazon would have created a Kindle app store 2 years ago?
Dedicated readers won't be the answer, not for mass. Content is still critical, but as my O'Reilly colleague Andrew Savikas recently stated so eloquently, "convenience is king." Mobile, multi-function devices will rule the day.
I was reading my Kindle during a recent cross-country flight. The passenger next to me said his wife is a big reader and he's thinking about getting her an e-device. He asked me if I recommend he get her a Kindle. Sadly, I said, "no." I told him he's better off checking out the upcoming B&N Nook as well as waiting to see if the rumored Apple device ever materializes. That's the first time I've ever recommended someone not get a Kindle when they ask me about mine.
I'm not down on Amazon, btw. I'm forever grateful for the job they've done to spark interest in the e-reader space. With all due respect to Sony, If it weren't for the Kindle we'd still be waiting for the first commercial success in this space.
I had high hopes back in November of 2007 but Amazon is clearly hedging their hardware bet by offering the Kindle iPhone app as well as the Kindle for PC (beta) and Kindle for Mac (forthcoming) apps. That's a smart move by Amazon. If my prediction comes true and they abandon the hardware space in the next three years they'll still be a major e-content player.