Multi-touch Raises the Bar

There’s been an awful lot of commentary about Amazon’s new Kindle. It’s clearly lived up to its name, and ignited a lot of discussion and excitement about the new possibilities of the always-on electronic book.

I wanted to add one more piece of fuel to the fire. But it’s not about ebooks, or even much about the Kindle. It’s about the way that the iPhone has changed my expectations of electronic devices. When I picked up my first Kindle, I immediately began to stroke the screen. Nothing happened. The device felt curiously inert, almost dead. It took me a moment to remember that the controls were on the side.

I share this as a small bit of “news from the future.” It’s hard to imagine that by this time next year, portable devices without multi-touch screens are going to feel very old, and very quaint.

It’s interesting to me that simple touch screens don’t create this effect. But once you’ve worked with a multi-touch device like the iPhone, it’s hard to go back.

Here’s a question: how long after Apple brings books to the iPhone (or its successor) will it be before Amazon brings multi-touch to the Kindle?