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Books

Why Amazon's Kindle Should Use Open Standards 315

Tim O'Reilly wrote in Forbes a while back that he thinks the Kindle only has another two or three years of life left, unless Amazon wises up and embraces open standards. He came to this conclusion, in part, because of his experience deciding how to publish documents on the web back in the mid-1990s. "You see, I'd recently been approached by the folks at the Microsoft Network. They'd identified O'Reilly as an interesting specialty publisher, just the kind of target that they hoped would embrace the Microsoft Network (or MSN, as it came to be called). The offer was simple: Pay Microsoft a $50,000 fee plus a share of any revenue, and in return it would provide this great platform for publishing, with proprietary publishing tools and file formats that would restrict our content to users of the Microsoft platform. The only problem was we'd already embraced the alternative: We had downloaded free Web server software and published documents using an open standards format. That meant anyone could read them using a free browser. While MSN had better tools and interfaces than the primitive World Wide Web, it was clear to us that the Web's low barriers to entry would help it to evolve more quickly, would bring in more competition and innovation, and would eventually win the day."

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