On the eve of what could be a momentous launch of digital gadgetry - the release of the Apple iPad - I received the strangest email from Amazon regarding my Kindle. It invited me to spend anywhere between $84.99- $119.99 on a sleek Kindle cover by Cole Haan.
I'll tell you what - the coolest cover in the world isn't going to make my Kindle look modern. In fact, I've been thinking a great deal about just how Amazon is going to respond to the iPad, which sure looks like it has the potential to redefine the digital reader market, along with perhaps even laptops.
I'm thinking that by the end of the year, you'll be able to buy a Kindle for $99, and that this once-breakthrough product that has been dominant in this new category, could go the way of Yahoo, MySpace, and other "first-in products" that were ultimately usurped by something cooler, smarter, and simply superior.
The other piece of this conversation has to do with radio. I know that every time a new device - or in this case, a new platform - is launched, there are radio people who start thinking, "Oh great - now I have to spend more money to participate in this space." Or "We're not going to do anything in this space until we can pay for it." Or my favorite: "Let's wait a while to see if this thing catches on."
But perhaps a different view is to consider that radio - through the development of apps - can be a part of the hottest new product launch since the debut of... the iPhone. The ability to be able to participate in a piece of technology that everyone's buzzing about is an incredible opportunity for a medium that can't seem to understand the importance of elegance, aesthetics, and the cool factor, not to mention the fact that pure AM/FM radios are rapidly disappearing from households, apartments, and dorms.
I want my medium to be able to share in some of the excitement that creates lines outside of the Apple store, covered by every news organization on this planet. This new class of devices has the ability to spawn the release of scores of other gadgets that make it easier for consumers to enjoy print media, as well as music, video, and other content.
The iPad isn't an albatross. It's an opportunity.