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Amazon Kindle — Have You Seen One?

Has anyone out there seen an Amazon Kindle out in the real world?

Apparently Amazon is reporting that their sales for their $399 portable digital e-book reader device have stayed strong after a surprising holiday season where they–allegedly–ran out of stock from buyer demand. But except for when I’m actually on Amazon.com, I’ve never seen, heard of, or talked about a Kindle with anybody. Despite what they’re saying, I get the feeling it’s going to be a couple of years before the portable reader catches on.

First things first, the Kindle is UGLY. I don’t want to sound shallow, but it’s just the world we live in. Apple’s iPod, iPhone and Macbook are tied to the cool factor, elegance and big-release hype and atmosphere they market their products with. It’s expected that devices that are being introduced as the new generation of consumer electronics look cool. We’ve already seen how the HTC Dream phone was released to underwhelming response because it lacked flash and was clunky. The Kindle looks like a starving Apple IIE that escaped from my third grade computer lab classroom.

Apple set the bar, and other companies are following. Dell’s mass-market laptops now include the option for customization, which was before only available with high-end gamer-oriented custom PCs like Alienware. I don’t necessarily like the fact that consumer electronics are doubling as fashion accessories, but it’s a fact of the digital world we live in.

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