Which of these side projects would add the most value for you?

So over the years I’ve tried a bunch of different things related to the Kindle – a search site, a social network, little tools, Apps, and this blog.

At the core my ideal situation would be to make things for Kindle owners and/or people who read and provide value to them, and get value back. Basically, to make money by providing value to Kindle owners and people who read books.

Here are the different side projects (in addition to the blog) and it’d be great to get your thoughts on which of these you personally would get the most value from –

  1. A site like BookMonk.com which allows searching of the Kindle Store.
  2. Small tools like the Page Number Guesser Tool and the Kindle Start Page tool. These could be expanded with things like a tool to manage your Clippings File on your PC or managing Collections on Your PC (there’s already a tool called Kindleabra for the latter).
  3. A site like BookSummit.com which is a Kindle Social Network. It’s accessible from the Kindle. However, the underying platform went through a period where they closed down code changes so I stopped working on this. It does have over 2,000 members. Probably more authors than readers.
  4. Kindle Apps. We have two games so far. But the other apps are nearly all NOT games. 
  5. A blog on Kindle Apps – KAppReview.com. 
  6. [Possible Projects] A site or blog on Kindle Book Deals. 
  7. [Possible Projects] A site listing indie authors’ books.
  8. A lending site?

It might take a while to get some of these up to speed. However, If there’s enough interest will definitely pick one or two and put solid effort into them.

What should I focus on for side projects?

[polldaddy poll=4514938]

Thank you for your feedback. Do leave a comment if you have any other ideas or any thoughts in general.

Adding on Kindle 3, iPad to the title

The blog is still called the Kindle Review – However, there is a little change. You’ll notice Kindle 3 and iPad in the title of the blog now – instead of Kindle 2 and Books.

Mostly for two reasons –

  1. 2010 seems like it’s no longer The Year of the eReader – It’s morphed into The Year of Kindle Vs iPad and The Year of Dedicated eReaders vs Multi-purpose devices. To me it seems that the two most important releases of this year are the iPad and the Kindle 3 (if it releases in 2010). 
  2. Amazon has started putting up iPad pages – which means that I can get commissions from iPad sales. Given the popularity of certain iPad related posts on the blog that’s not a bad option.

The blog is going to remain a Kindle Blog – 70% or more Kindle. For the record there are multiple Kindle Apps I’m working on and no iPad apps (well, perhaps 1). So there is no shift to the dark side (and by dark side we do mean ‘cool, sexy, looks so enticing, doesn’t care much about reading’ side).  

B&N adds commissions for the Nook

A few days ago Barnes & Noble sent out a missive saying they now give commissions on the Nook. That’s an interesting change and it shows that they feel the need to get websites and blogs writing about the Nook. It probably means that some Nook focused blogs will emerge and that’d be a good thing for eReaders in general.

It also means that now Kindle, iPad, Sony Reader, and Nook all have commissions on sales.  

What side is this blog on?

That’s an interesting question.

It’s on the side of reading and books. It’s on the side of customers and helping them make the best decision. It’s about reviews and decision points and helping people make the right decision for them.

Basically, readers come in to the blog and figure out what eReader is best for them and that’s always the focus – finding the best eReader for the blog’s users. Even if it is not an eReader and is a does-everything, pretends to be an eReader, iPad.

There’s still going to be 70% Kindle coverage and lots of stuff on how to get the most out of the Kindle and there’s a Kindle App or two up my sleeve that will also help with that. Do let me know your thoughts.

eReaders as the 4th screen

The ‘3 screens’ model is quite an interesting way to look at how people consume media. AT&T do a decent job of explaining the three screen model –

“three screens” that many consumers value most — the TV, the PC and the wireless phone.

in the near future, the lines between networks and access technologies will be blurred. And communications and entertainment services will be delivered to the “three screens” in an integrated and familiar way.

AT&T isn’t the only company that’s talking about the 3 screens –

  1. Here’s a PDF report from Nielsen on How people consume Media across 3 screens. Nielsen do a monthly report on 3 screen media consumption – here’s the 3 screen report for December 2009
  2. Microsoft has a 3 screen and a Cloud strategy
  3. MediaPost has a good post talking about the 3 screens

You have to admit it makes a lot of sense.

How does the Cloud fit in with the 3 screens?

The Cloud is basically a platform – It provides distribution, storage, services, and more.

The Cloud is in a way the projected end state when, as AT&T say, ‘the lines between networks and access technologies will be blurred’.

In this end state the Cloud will be delivering services and media that are consumed on the 3 screens – TV, PC, and Phone.

However, we run into an interesting problem.

Ripples in the 3 Screens and a Cloud Model – eReaders

There are obviously some ripples in the 3 screens and a Cloud model –

  1. Radio.
  2. Books.

Let’s focus on one in particular – books.

People and companies who believe in the 3 Screens and a Cloud model would think –

  1. Books are going to be stored in a cloud.
  2. Books are going to be read on one of the 3 screens.  

However, eReaders sprang up and broke the 3 screens part of the equation.

eReaders as the potential Fourth Screen

The fact that eReaders are better for reading than any of the 3 current screens sets them up to be the mythical fourth screen.  

  1. eInk has a competitive advantage over the 3 screens – its much, much closer to paper. 
  2. eReaders come in a form factor that fits in neatly between phones and PCs.
  3. Reading spreads across books and school and work and a lot of other areas.
  4. People read enough for eReaders to gain huge sales volume and huge presence. 
  5. eReaders come with huge advantages – battery life, readable in sunlight, very few distractions.  

The rise of eReaders is going to run into a few roadblocks – some real, some imagined.

eReaders as the Fourth Screen – the Challenges

The 3 Screens trying to take back reading

We see a few examples of this already –

  1. Reading apps on phones.
  2. Reading Software on PCs.
  3. Pixel Qi’s multiple mode screen that makes PCs much better for reading.

eReader makers are well aware of this and are hedging their bets by creating reading applications for the PC and for various phones.

In addition to hedging their bets they are also, consciously or unconsciously, doing a few things to strengthen eReaders’ charge to be the fourth screen –

  1. (Usually) Locking people into their content libraries.
  2. Creating apps that are in the design philosophy of the dedicated eReader – thus functioning as a ramp to actual eReader ownership. 
  3. Getting people back into reading so that they can transition to reading enough to justify buying a dedicated eReader.
  4. Making the reading applications limited enough to not really be a threat to eReaders.

It’s very intelligent strategy.

Competing Fourth Screen Devices

Another huge challenge to eReaders are devices that want to be the fourth screen themselves.

  1. Tablets and the iPad are a great example.  
  2. Netbooks are a big threat too – although they are increasingly moving towards being thinner, cheaper laptops.  

It’s an interesting contest –

  1. Are customers looking for a more mobile PC?
  2. Are customers looking for a dedicated reading device that specializes in reading?
  3. Will customers create a fourth and fifth screen?

I suspect the answer is the third option. We like simplicity and to be able to think in threes – However, and even AT&T say this, users have shown a tendency to embrace multiple screens and use them all.

  • TV didn’t die out and neither will the phone and the PC.  
  • The PC and the mobile phone were embraced – so will eReaders and Tablets (or perhaps Netbooks).

What Happens if eReaders really do become the fourth screen?

They become really, really important. Much more important than just ‘screens for reading’ – even though reading is huge.

Here are a few directions eReaders could go in if they do become a fourth screen –

  1. Become relationship devices – They’re everywhere and they’re trusted.  
  2. Expand into a purchase screen i.e. specialize for reading and e-commerce. 
  3. Micropayments.
  4. Location Services.
  5. Start selling other types of media.  

There are a lot of directions to go in. Getting a foothold is the key part and eReaders are well on their way to doing that.

The Battle for Being the Fourth Screen may be bigger than the Battle for Publishing

If you think of how strong the iTunes ecosystem is and how strong the Kindle ecosystem is, it’s clear that the reward for becoming the fourth screen people use might actually be greater than the reward for becoming the foundation for Publishing.

It’s a scary thought that eReaders might win an even bigger prize than control of the $50 billion annual revenues in Publishing (just an estimate – it’s $25 billion for the US).