only certain "lendable" books ("lendability" being determined by the publisher) can be lent at most one time, only within the United States, for a period of exactly 14 days.
So, they've got that going for it. I thought Big Media was learning its lesson about DRM, that it only hurts customers not copyright infringers (who get around the DRM); I thought this was the normal 2011 but I must be wrong. In this alternate 2011 in which we're now living, DRM is back and higher prices for artificial scarcity is back. Between this new Amazon Fire Tablet and the expensive, restrictive, limited-option Netflix plans, I'd bet BitTorrent gets a boost over the next few years. MAFIAA Big Media has been set back by its own lack of vision and inability to maneuver in this new marketplace, where Free is the new Cheap, and Cheap is the new Everything. They're blinded by previous profits in an unsustainable business model, and their only hope on this current path is to convince the US Government of their value and to have that government push other governments around until the whole world is ruled by US Copyright Laws, and then they can sue everyone at once.
OK, so anyways, the Kindle Fire: Amazon took the Android 2.1 software, which is what my phone runs, took out most of the Google stuff (including the Market), stuffed it with Amazon apps designed to get you buying, and has released it on the RIM PlayBook hardware. This is great!
Ok, let me clear this up: I am not a proponent of BigCorp controlling us or collecting our data. I just recently got a PayPal account, a good 15 years late; I don't have FaceBook; Apple iDont.
But the idea that the Free Software produced by many of us, that you and I tested and reported bugs and put through the paces in our daily lives, and that software is out there for anyone to use — that is a powerful idea. Amazon saw this, took the Android 2.1 software and made it their own, and now we can decide if we want to use it. Personally, I am waiting for CyanogenMod version of Android to be released for my phone, so that I can upgrade MY software on MY device. I would imagine this will be released for the Amazon Kindle Fire as well, eventually.
So we have Free Software, capable of being customized and deployed anywhere: Fantastic. The two drawbacks to the Free Software movement are due to greedy vendors and we must vote with out wallets; I am guessing no one will get the message. The drawbacks are that vendors release their software, that you and I helped to build, but they don't release the code allowing us to build that software. Google has been doing this with their more recent Android releases: only their changes to the Linux Kernel will be released, per that license. The rest, we're screwed. The other drawback is that, in trying to keep their secrets about our software, hardware has now changed so that we cannot install our own software onto our own hardware. TiVo started this trend and caused the Free Software Foundation to release the GPLv3, but it hasn't been enough because customers aren't exercising their rights and we're getting more and more locked out of our hardware.
The Amazon Kindle Fire did what they could: took a 10-release-behind (!) version of Android and made it their own. I wonder if that version, Android 2.1, already had the needed drivers for this hardware. Or maybe they're that far behind in the product development. Or maybe, its all Google would let them have of the software that you and I built.