Monday, August 23, 2010

WikiReader -- good enough technology?

Last month I was in a big box store and came across this product -- the WikiReader. It offers offline access to 3 million plus articles from the english version of Wikipedia. It does this without a wifi or 3G connection. But rest assured, you can get updates via a computer that will let you update an SD card. The whole thing runs on a few batteries that last about a year.

As I sit in my office surrounded by a laptop, iPhone and iPad - I think the product is kind of silly but maybe it has utility for some. For example, before the Apple/Gizmodo stolen phone brouhaha came up, the term "apphole" referred to one of those people who was always checking their phone to answer questions that came up in coversation. Maybe peoplie like that would buy it. In a similar vein, I read years ago that the Guinness Book of World Records was devised to resolve bar bets. Perhaps the WikiReader may serve the same purpose in watering holes without wifi or 3G.

Perhaps this is the device version of the "just good enough" competition we sometimes see in the content space. Users will trade off cost for a cheap or free version because what they need is not mission critical. I don't think this business is all that scalable in that no one wants a slew of extra devices connected to their belt but maybe they can find enough of a market somewhere.

If you are interested, you can buy one from Amazon for $73.58. I'll be sticking with my iPad.

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