The NYT says the Kindle 2 is awesome, but Forbes thinks they’ve got to go open source to have any kind of future as a popular gadget.
In developing the business plan for the Kindle, Amazon was no doubt influenced by the great success of Apple (nasdaq: AAPL – news – people ) with the iPod: Proprietary hardware and proprietary file formats made Apple into the kingpin of the digital music industry. But what Amazon seems to have missed is the important role that “free” played in the success of the iPod. People didn’t populate their iPods solely with music purchased from Apple. It was easy for them to “rip” their own CDs into the standard mp3 file format and load their entire music collection onto the device.
While users can load some of their own documents onto the Kindle, there is no easy way to “rip” a book. But with epub-based readers, there are millions of free titles available, and books are available from many vendors, each able to experiment with new business models. Buy a print book, get an e-book free? Buy a print book and e-book for one low price? Buy one, get one free? Buy in multiple formats?
Apple has played the same game to perfection with the iPhone App Store. The Cupertino company seems to have a knack for balancing the benefits of both open and closed architectures that Amazon has yet to discover. While Apple maintains tight control over what goes into the App Store, there’s a loophole big enough to drive a truck through: Any Web page can act as an application for the iPhone.
Open allows experimentation. Open encourages competition. Open wins.