Kindle Fire: So Hot, It’s Sold Out

If you have a high-speed Internet connection at home (either DSL or cable Internet), you’ve probably set up a Wi-Fi home network so you can connect all around the house on your laptop.

You may also use your home Wi-Fi network to browse the Internet with your smartphone or tablet.

But there’s another device that’s great to use with your high-speed Internet home network, and that device was in the news this morning.

Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet

Sold Out...But Stay Tuned.

It’s Amazon’s Kindle Fire (which lets you browse the Web whenever you’re connected to Wi-Fi).

So, why is the Kindle Fire in the news today?

Because Amazon announced earlier this morning that the Kindle Fire:

  • is the most successful product launch in Amazon.com’s history
  • has earned over 10,000 5-star reviews
  • has been the #1 best-selling product on Amazon.com since it was introduced about 9 months ago
  • has captured 22% of tablet sales in the U.S.
  • is now sold out

That’s right: sold out. As in, no more Kindle Fire. Forever.

But don’t fret if you’ve been putting off buying one.

Amazon is holding a press event in Los Angeles next Thursday, September 6, and there are lots of rumors about Amazon announcing a new line of Kindle Fires.

PCWorld.com has a list of 5 things that would make the new Kindle Fire a big hit.

Do you have a Kindle Fire or other Kindle? Are you thinking about buying one? Or are you a fan of another tablet? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments section below.

Does Someone Own the Interactive Web?

Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn invented TCP/IP and are considered the “fathers of the Internet.” But they don’t own the Internet.

Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. But he doesn’t own it. He also designed and built the first Web browser and Web server. But he didn’t patent them and gets no royalties from those world-changing inventions. In fact, he founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in order to create standards and recommendations for the Web that were freely available to the public without royalties or other payments.

But plenty of other people have patented – and profited off – various Internet and Web innovations.

Interactive Web trial - Gavel PhotoThis Wired article reports that there’s a high-profile and potentially momentous trial under way this week in Texas brought by a man who claims he invented – and patented – the interactive Web by creating the first Web browser that supported plugins. His company claims that its patents cover extremely common Web technologies such as online video, search suggestion pop-ups, and interactive ecommerce technologies.

The man is Michael Doyle, and his company, Eolas, is seeking royalty payments from some of the biggest names on the Internet, including Google, Yahoo, and Amazon. Eolas had previously received a settlement from Microsoft in a similar patent case.

Many in the tech world fear that the suit, if successful, will stifle Web innovation. Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee himself testified for the defendants in the trial earlier this week and had previously signed a letter sent by W3C to the patent office claiming that upholding the Eolas patents would cause “disruption of global web standards” as well as “substantial economic and technical damage to the operation of the World Wide Web.”

A jury is set to determine if the Eolas patents are valid. If it does, three other trials are scheduled to determine damages. We’ll let you know the results. You can read more details now on Wired, CNet, and The Daily Mail.

Time to Speak Up – Speech Recognition a Hot Topic

EarthLink was founded way back in 1994 as an ISP (Internet service provider) determined to make the Internet easy for people to use.  And that’s been our mission ever since.

So we’re always looking out for things that may make the Internet easier for you.

One trend in the news lately that looks promising is speech recognition. Speech recognition software allows for a simplified, hands-free experience of your computer, smartphone or tablet.

It’s not that speech recognition is new. Mac computers have for years offered built-in speech recognition (look in the System Preference if you’re curious). Windows Vista and Windows 7 do too, but you need to set it up first. Industry leader Nuance has been making its critically acclaimed Dragon Naturally Speaking software since 1997. I can tell you from personal experience the latest version is very good: I’m actually using it for this post. Android and iPhone OS have also included voice controls (Google calls them Voice Actions) for some time.

So why the buzz now?

iPhone 4S featuring Siri speech recognitionThe launch of the iPhone 4S, staring Siri. Siri is the embedded speech recognition and voice control system (personified as your own virtual assistant) embedded in Apple’s new iPhones.

While speech recognition has been getting better and better (yes, even in the dreaded automated voice response systems virtually all big companies use to route calls), it hadn’t yet really taken off with consumers because of previous limitations: the difficulty of recognizing speech variations and the requirements that users follow relatively rigid rules to use the systems. You couldn’t just talk naturally.

Siri is different because it excels at natural language recognition. You can speak to it much more freely and normally, like you would to a real person you were asking for help. And it works, though of course not 100% of the time. You can’t ask it anything (yet). Currently Siri responds well to questions or commands in 15 pre-defined areas, such as finding and sending email, searching the Internet, getting directions, playing music, answering factual questions, creating calendar entries, and more.

The good news is that as good as Siri is now, it’s only in Beta. The expectation is that its speech recognition quality and the range of subjects it can deal with will increase dramatically in the coming months.

But don’t worry if you’re not an iPhone user. Google is widely expected to push even harder now to improve its already good voice search and Android Voice Actions to compete with Apple. Apple may also open Siri up to developers looking to enhance a wide range of products. And just yesterday, news broke that in September Amazon had acquired a company called Yap for its voice-recognition technology, so you can probably expect to be talking back to your Kindle or your Amazon shopping search in the not-to-distant future.

Apple and Android phones and tablets have taken off in large part due to the usability advantages of touchscreens, which offer users a simpler and more natural way to interact with tablets. Speech recognition will be the next stage in this evolution, adding hands-free convenience on top of increased simplicity in your Internet experience.

Sounds good to us.