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Customer Review

on November 26, 2007
Update November 1, 2009:

My original review is now two years old, and I thought it's time for an update. Surprisingly nothing of consequence has changed. The Avantgo application that I refer to is no longer around. However I now just use the Times mobile site which has equivalent features; thanks to the Times for providing that service! I can view the Times' mobile site on my smartphone (which replaced my PDA) either thru wifi or over-the-air.

Like Avantgo the mobile site provides excellent color images. All-in-all the Times mobile site is perhaps even better than Avantgo used to be, the only downside is that it is 'streamed' in the sense that you must be on-line either with wifi or your phones data plan; you can't 'take it with you', like the Kindle edition. If you have an iPhone you will be even better off, since there is an App for that; using the App you don't need to be online as the content will be updated each time you open the App and cached on the iPhone.

One other informational note: many newspapers such as the Washington Post, London Times etc. have 'moble' sites now to capture the smartphone market. These are really excellent tools, since they are in large part advert-free, including just text and images. If you haven't tried them they are in many ways superior to the smartphone 'browser' experience being much faster and simpler to navigate.

Back to the NY Times Kindle editions: I have become something of a fan of single Sunday editions since the price is such a bargain, and I can read sections during the following week.

The Times web site has been vastly improved in many ways since my original review, so it is an even more compelling alternative setting aside the price (free). I'm pleased that the Times is evolving, we all have to root for their survival and success; I still maintain that their marketing dept should join the 21st. century along with their editorial staff.

--------- Original Review from 2007 follows ---------------

To put this review in perspective I've been reading the NY Times every day for several years on my PDA, as delivered electronically by [...]. That edition has been my 'gold standard' for e-reading because I can download it in just a few minutes as my coffee brews along with the Washington Post and London Times, and then read it as I have my coffee, or take it with me to read on a commute. (When I'm travelling I can get my daily dose of newspapers from avantgo as long as there is wifi nearby.)

NY Times recently made significant improvements to their avantgo edition, so it includes all the major sections of the paper. The articles are all text, no ads, and interestingly on the PDA the pictures are quite good and in color(!). But...although the main articles are included, many are not because of the format, space, whatever. Bottom line, there are still enough articles that I run out of time before I run out of articles. The only drawback (for me) is that the PDA form factor, while great for travel, is a little space-challenged. Nevertheless, as I mentioned, it's my 'gold standard' for electronic editions since I don't want to carry my laptop everywhere. And the avantgo service is free.

So I was pretty excited to compare the Kindle subscription edition with what I've been using. To cut to the chase I'm happy to report that, for me, the Kindle edition is far superior. There are many more articles, improved navigation and of course the form factor! I was overwhelmed with the Sunday edition which has the magazine and book reviews in addition to the regular news. All-in-all a great offering.

Now about the price of the subscription. I thought it was too high until I went and looked at the alternative offerings. Turns out it's half the price of the print edition, and just about the same price as the electronic edition. (Of course the web edition and avantgo are free in comparison.) So I can see where NY Times slotted this subscription, I have to say it fits in pretty well with the alternatives.

But...I'm afraid it won't succeed at this price. And that concerns me because I really want these Kindle subscriptions to be wild successes and stoke the Kindle experience itself. (Which is why I'm taking the time and trouble to write this review.)

The price point needs to be $9.95, or even $5.95 to get significant traction. People who will subscribe are not choosing between print and electronic, they are choosing between Kindle and free (web or PDA) electronic alternatives.

My claim here is that any income the NY Times gets from a Kindle subscription is incremental, and they are not going to capture these subscribers thru one of their other channels. In my own case I'm willing to go from a zero cost subscription to a paid subscription, but not at the current price.

I'm disappointed the Times doesn't seem to see the potential of e-delivery as offered by Kindle, at least as far as pricing their product to make it a wild success...
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