‘Kindle Killer’ or Innovative Savior?

30 July 09

futurethink plastic logic ebook

Plastic Logic’s electronic reader may be the ‘Kindle Killer,’ but for many, this little innovation will be quite the savior.

The new eReader will provide users with access to Barnes & Noble’s abundant eBook store—this means more than 700,000 titles at their fingertips, while Amazon’s Kindle provides only 300,000 titles.  But the thing that positions this new eReader toe-to-toe with the Kindle—and has eBookers stirring—is that it will provide wireless access through AT&T’s wide 3G network; giving users unlimited access to new books in many more locations, ultimately providing added mobility. Read the rest of this entry »


Plugging Forward

31 March 09


It’s been an exciting few weeks for some of the world’s most famous innovators. Apple unveiled the latest iPhone/iPod Touch operating system (who knew software could be so exciting?) and unveiled its third-generation iPod shuffle. Amazon released the Kindle2, a welcomed follow-up to its popular eReader. Facebook updated its homescreen layout. Google released a new ‘Undo Send’ feature to GMail. The list goes on… you get the idea.

The point is that things are still happening-despite all the negativity out there, smart companies are still plugging forward and improving their offerings. The five companies mentioned here have always kept things fresh with a pipeline of updates and enhancements, and that’s part of the reason these companies have done well. Just when things start to feel stale, they give their customers something new. Enhancements and updates are a relatively quick, low-risk way to keep innovation alive (and demand high) regardless of what’s happening in the economy.

What can you do to invigorate demand by freshening up your offerings? What small, meaningful enhancements and upgrades can you release? If you’re at a loss for ideas, just talk to your customers or scan customer reviews and you’ll uncover a trove of potentially valuable ideas. Just remember, innovation doesn’t always have to be ground-breaking and risky… sometimes the little things can have a big impact.

What does innovation look like for your organization given the state of the economy?

Amazon’s Kindle2

9 February 09

Meet Amazon’s just-announced Kindle2. The device is an update to the Kindle, which launched in November of 2007. The Kindle2 is, at its heart, very much the same device as its predecessor. The most notable difference in the updated model is a sleeker new form factor, which incorporates improvements to many of the details users used to complain about. For example, there are now two sets of page turn buttons on either side of the screen, allowing users to hold the device in either hand. Other improvements include faster page turns, improved battery life, and a text-to-speech option which lets users hear their books read out loud (albeint in a roboticized voice). The device still retails for $359, and all open orders for the original Kindle will be fulfilled with the updated model instead. Read the rest of this entry »

A Chat with Jeff Bezos

16 April 08

futurethink jeff bezos nyu

Last night, a couple of us at futurethink attended “A Chat with Jeff Bezos” at NYU’s Stern School of Business (my alma mater). The event was a Q&A discussion between Jeff (founder, President, and CEO of Amazon), and Kevin Maney (Contributing Editor at Condé Nast Portfolio Magazine).

It was pretty exciting to see the man who runs one of my all-time favorite companies up close. He spoke (somewhat) candidly about the history of Amazon – how the idea came to him and the changes he made in his life to make it happen. He was a little less forthcoming with some of the finer details of Amazon’s businesses, due to the upcoming release of Q12008 numbers. All in all, it was a great discussion. Here are some of my favorite tidbits: Read the rest of this entry »

Amazon Gives You Answers. Now.

31 March 08

futurethink amazon nownow

Amazon recently unveiled a new “Web” service, called NowNow, that allows users to find answers to any question via mobile email. When users post a question to NowNow, a team of human workers surfs the web to find the answer. Users will get an email response with up to three answers to their question within just a few minutes. In the Beta test, all questions can be asked for free, though Amazon will eventually begin charging a small fee for each question asked.

Read the rest of this entry »