What’s Next on the Grid (Healthcare Edition)

There is a lot of activity in the Smart Grid space these days, particularly in the buildout of the infrastructure necessary to get going on at the least the initial vision of the Smart Grid whereby utilities will monitor home and commercial building energy consumption to optimize the generation and distribution of energy during times less stressful on the same generation sources, distribution networks, and ultimately pocketbooks of those purchasing the energy. However what is beyond the infrastructure and what are truly new services that can overlay or be completely new experiences for the end users and monetization opportunities for the service providers, which may include the utilities but not be exclusive to them? I argue that these new services need to be thought of in terms of the target “consumers” of the services and new lifestyle attributes created from these services. As the first in the What’s Next on the Grid series, this article will discuss at a high level how Healthcare is one of these many new services and lifestyle impacts that the Smart Grid++ will create.

What do Healthcare and the Smart Grid have in relation to each other, apart from the fact that the same end consumers of the Smart Grid services are all human beings (Ed.: machine-to-machine applications on the grid notwithstanding) that need to lead healthy lives? At first glance, pretty much nothing in common. However let’s look at a few characteristics that the two have in common.

  1. Both use wireless technologies. In Smart Grid, AMI is implementing Zigbee and Home Area Networks (HANs) are implementing several wireless technologies such as WiFi. In Healthcare, hospitals and clinics are implementing WiFi for voice and data communications (and other proprietary wireless) and the Healthcare vertical has been an early adopter of wireless technologies due to complexities with running wired infrastructure for connected devices.
  2. Both are connecting their devices. Meters, appliances, thermostats and TVs connected to a network is the first step to monitoring their energy consumption. Similarly connecting X-ray machines, home dialysis machines, medicine carts, patient tracking badges and in-home heartrate monitors are the first steps to creating anywhere, anytime patient monitoring.
  3. Both see mobile devices and technologies as game changers. Whether it is iPhones, iPads or other mobile Internet devices and displays, remote and on-the-go manageability is an absolute need for doctors, nurses, building managers, or utility operations personnel. We’re seeing the traditional closed NOC center become more and more distributed as mobile becomes pervasive.
  4. Both are seeing significant innovations in the cloud. This dimension is more of a When and not If it will happen. But also How it will happen. Scalability and reliability of the cloud has been proven time and time again. However both Smart Grid and Healthcare have requirements for privacy of consumer/patient information, massive data management of petabytes and exabytes of detailed data (real-time energy consumption data from dozens of devices in a home to large MRI and other diagnostic imaging data from radiology departments), and strict regulations of who can access this data.

Rather than looking at each of the above dimensions individually and in a vacuum of minutiae, let’s look at them from a couple of fictional usage scenarios centered around how they benefit the lifestyles and livelihoods of the users. Fictional only in that I’ve not heard they’ve been actually implemented but technically very feasible.

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up

Babyboomers are the largest new segment of the population entering their “golden years” but with both financial capability and a desire for wellness not just visit their doctors when they catch a bug. Many are staying proactively healthy with exercise, activities and good dietary habits. Imagine their stationary bicycles and Stairmasters connected to a converged wellness management system that also gives them suggestions or implements automated rules that reduce their energy spending. The stationary bicycles send their physicians and dietitians real-time and historical information of how they’re exercise program is going, their heartrate range from at-rest to peak performance, weight, etc. If the users also included some anaerobic cardio such as swimming in their programs, wouldn’t it be nice if the pool heater and pool pump energy consumption were activated according to the people’s schedules? If there were changes to the schedule, they can enter the new schedule via their mobile smartphones or simply via their locations the schedules can be altered.

Code Blue in Room 305

There are many critical systems within a hospital environment such as the intensive care wards, radiology departments, patient and asset tracking systems, access to medical records and so forth. Some, but not all, hospitals have backup generators to weather through power outages but the rise of renewables such as solar and other alternatives could make the hospital environment its own micro-grid with these various power source subsystems that can be tapped and utilized in optimal times and conditions. However a holistic view of all the critical systems WITH the available alternate power subsystems implemented in a Critical Intelligence and Rules service ensures that all of the patient care and hospital management systems are available at all times in the most efficient manner. The MRI machines draw a lot of power so they wouldn’t necessarily be switched to a battery bank while the 900 MHz Asset HAN can easily operate on duty cycles conducive to drawing from the batteries during peak tariff periods.

Check On Grandma

Many of us having aging parents and grandparents who we’d like to be able to check on from time to time, given our very active lives with traveling, taking care of kids or running companies. In comes the mobile phone as the portal to many of these personal facets of our lives. I can see to ensure the temperature is comfy for Grandma in Miami because there happens to be a major cold chill sweeping through the area and she doesn’t know how to work that new programmable thermostat the utility installed. At the same time I can see that she’s up to date on her heart medication because she’s been taking the pills at the same times every day (RFID on the pill container with an integrated alert) and her in-home heart check monitor is giving me a green indication stating all is well. I’m on vacation in Europe with the kids so I sleep much better knowing this. We’ll give her a call tomorrow after the gondola ride.

Summary

There are no lack of opportunities where the Smart Grid is more than just a grid for distributing energy at the right time of day. The ultimate uptake by consumers will be in the many layered ways they perceive these services touch and improve their lives. Some parts will be slower than others but beyond the infrastructure, the services need to be developed in a very user and customer-centric manner if they are to make good business sense as well.

Wal-Mart and New Age MVNOs

Wal-Mart recently its new MVNO wireless brand called Wal-Mart Family Mobile. This is a great move for what is undeniably the largest retailer in the world and has unfettered access to a tremendous customer base. While the plan is not quite optimized yet (new lines are $25/line and a bit too expensive, phones are locked to the Wal-Mart service, among others) I’m sure they’ll learn a lot after launch, marketing and selling the service. In fact, they’ll find out that as they rollout into international markets, i.e., outside of the US, the requirements and behaviors from those local markets will be different. Details of the plan are outlined below:

“The service, called Wal-Mart Family Mobile, will run on T-Mobile USA’s network and will cost $45 per month for unlimited voice and texting; additional lines can be added for $25 per month. Interestingly, there is also a prepaid component to the plan: Users who want mobile data can pay into a prepaid account that can be pooled for an entire family, and the data does not expire. The first 100 MB of data are free, and come pre-loaded on all of the phones using the service. Customers can buy more data for an extra charge: $10 for 200 MB, $25 for 500 MB or $40 for 1 GB.

Importantly, Wal-Mart’s plan does not have a contract for customers to sign or come with early-termination fees. However, phones for the offering will be locked to Wal-Mart’s service, and will not be able to work on other networks or even under a T-Mobile plan.”

What are the most disruptive of this are: big brands launching new mobile services, and who owns the customer. Best Buy Mobile is marketing and selling many devices across many carriers. When will they actually launch their own service under their own brand? They are one of the largest CE and appliance retailers, not quite on the same plane of existence as Wal-Mart but in a different one (Ed.: Stephen Hawking may chime in here). Or LVMH in France? Or Boots or Tesco in the UK? It’s just a matter of time as costs of smartphones (or tablets or other interesting devices) come down and infrastructure-based carriers, especially tier 1.5 or 2, are willing to open up their networks to other big brands. Of course Amazon has been doing this since the launch of the Kindle and is very successful though hard to tell if Sprint or Qualcomm are making money on leasing their infrastructure to Amazon/WhisperNet.

The longer term and most disruptive impact will be ownership of the customer relationship and ultimately wallet. Prime example is the iPhone. Does Apple or ATT own the customer relationship? Some may disagree but I think it’s Apple, hands down! They own the AppStore, all extensibility of the device, upgrades, and most of the profitability of the value add elements of the device. ATT charges for the 3G service voice and data pipes. I don’t trivialize this but it’s a matter of who you think of when you think of iPhone. Case in point. Yesterday as I was trekking down University Avenue in Palo Alto, CA, I noticed an ATT store right across the street from the Apple Store. ATT store was desolate…Apple Store was booming! As always.

What do you think of the future of the convergence of MVNOs and big brands with big customer bases? I think it only has one direction: up and to the right.

Floating Among the #Cloud…#Services

The importance of device characterization, content adaption, and cloud services is absolutely critical to a positive Always Connected User Experience (ACUE). Today I bounced back and forth between my iPhone and Kindle 2 reading snippets of The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (GREAT book so far, as usual from the author of The DaVinci Code).

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Without getting verbose, these were the essentials of my positive Always Connected User Experience while waiting for my car’s oil change.

  1. The page sync is automatic between the 2 devices so I never have to worry about remembering where I was. It wasn’t always this seamless…back in the stone ages of Kindle 1 I had manually sync many if not all the time.
  2. The adaptation of the content is performed to the device’s capabilities (screen size, display technology, I/O, dynamic features such as accelerometer). Obviously Apple (obvious, I think) would not have approved the Kindle for iPhone app if it had not met the specs for what they typically consider as a stellar user experience. In a nutshell, it just works!
  3. Yes, the content does in fact reside locally on both devices, so it’s not what I’d call a classical “connected cloud service”, but the content originates and remains available in the cloud no matter what I do locally on the devices. If I wipe my iPhone, I just reload the app and book, and I’m right back to the same page I left off on.

One key element of the overall ACUE equation is the transport media, but since the content is cached locally on the device (probably always will be) this is not as important other than the time to download. Where this becomes important is when less of the content resides locally and what the device side gets is rendering of the content. So if Amazon were actually rendering the book content and pushing me each page as I flip to the next page, I will be begin to care very much whether I’m connected over HSPA, WiFi, or EDGE. I’ll also care about the quality of the connection if I’m moving. Imagine the sorts of outages or failed calls on the iPhone in some of the dreaded “coverage holes” in the San Francisco bay area when I’m immersed in a really good publication or book.

There are many other items such as security, authentication, e-commerce, and so forth that I’m leaving out and of course must be built into the equation. But from the non-technical users perspective, once they signed up for their account on Amazon and purchased their Kindle, they just want it to work without needing any knowledge of an unreliable cellular network, fading, channel congestion, or roaming.

Are we there yet? Ehh, kinda sorta. We’re definitely getting there as users push the capabilities of the applications, services and devices. Apps, services and devices push the capabilities of the network. And the networks push the capabilities of the carriers to react innovatively and expeditiously. Do you agree or disagree?

SocioConnectitis: Addicted to #Connected #Media

Mobile devices and technologies have afforded us mere mortals the ability to communicate with each other, answer practically any question, access practically any media or content available on the Internet, and entertain ourselves in ways never thought possible 10 years ago.  Since the advent of data communications over cellular technologies such as GSM/GPRS, EV-DO, and HSPA enable the immediacy of these desires.  The air interface alone, however, is not enough to allow flesh and blood to engage and interact with the digital media in that virtual netherworld.  We need devices.  Blackberries, Droids, Symbian devices, and my favorite, the iPhone, bridge the chemically and electrically induced emotions and needs for digital “connectedness” and the digital itself.

But the ways our brains are being rewired where we grow accustomed to checking emails in the kitchen, updating our Facebook status in the bathroom (yeah, could be gross), following our Twitter community sitting in front of the TV, or posting a new vid to Flickr standing in front of the BBQ while grilling some steaks (hey, the thick ones take a while) is taking the “attractiveness” of mobility to all-new heights.

BTW, I’ve personally done all of the above on my iPhone while at home NOT sitting in front of my Mac.  In fact I’ve caught myself pulling out my iPhone to open up TweetDeck or WordPress WHILE I’ve been sitting in front of my Mac with TweetDeck or WordPress already open.  WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME?!?!

Nothing and everything, depending on your generational or conservative persuasion.  If you’re reading this blog, or especially if you’ve gotten to this post from a bit.ly shortened URL, you are likely also suffering from SocioConnectitis.  Defined as: “the insatiable and irresistible need to engage and interact with our social digital media and content. This is sometimes accompanied by narcissism (how many mentions did I get today?), paranoia (why haven’t those friend requests been accepted yet?) and a false sense of urgency (I really, really need to upload those Flip MinoHD vids to Facebook because I’m sure they’ll be helpful in curing cancer).

Where is all this headed?  For sure this second nature (soon to be first nature) act of interacting digitally won’t even be differentiated from breathing or waking up in the morning someday soon.  This is the case not just for industrialized societies, but even the poorest countries and regions are experiencing this.  Maybe not iPhone-class urges yet, but they get the notion of connectedness and those are the seeds of SocioConnectitis. And the device vendors want to cash in this growing behavior with the QUE, more Droids (someday they’ll be sentient beings), iPhone 4G (whatever that is), iSlate, Kindle DX x 10^8, and so many other windows into this digitally delectable world.

Now what? As Andrea True Connection says, “More, More, More.” Or Britney Spears says, “Gimme More.” I’m loving this disease.

Too Strong to be Weak

I’ve always been intrigued and fascinated by technology and how technologies are adopted by people. In the past I’ve written about the concepts of strong-specific and weak-general. These concepts are not mine (I wish they were). Instead they were originated by Bill Buxton who is currently a researcher at Microsoft Research. I first learned about Bill while reading a book called The Invisible Future: The Seamless Integration of Technology Into Everyday Life.

The reason for this momentary occurrence of awakedness (don’t know if this is a word) to the strong-specific and weak-general concepts was from an article I recently saw in FastCompany called Tracing the Evolution of Consumer Electronics. What’s Next? The article is really more of a set of family trees showing the apparent origin of certain products back in the days right after the primordial ooze. For example, the Kindle 2 traces back to the original days when, ahem, paper books and book presses were the hot thing…can you imagine that! There are many other interesting lineages for the iPhone, Blackberry, Wii/PS3/Xbox, and other devices.

The core question presented by this article is: will a single device ever unite them all? In my most humble opinion, NO FRIGGING WAY! I could be wrong on this and I’m sure there will be technological innovations that we can’t even conceive of or imagine today.

I have an iPhone (3 in fact), Kindle (2 in fact), iPods, netbooks, media center PCs, PS3, laptops, Macbook Air, Razr’s, PDAs, a drawer full of cellphones and smartphones (the graveyard of those that didn’t pass muster), digital picture frames, cordless telephones, LCD TVs, LCD monitors, other MP3 players that came and went, and I’m sure a few other devices that I’m forgetting.

I believe the primary reason for why we will ALWAYS possess an array of strong-specific devices and NO ONE device will do all of what the FastCompany article devices do is due to how we interact with the devices and applications on those devices. For example, the way we interact (and expect feedback and interaction with us) with a music player is very different than how we interact and expect interaction with our senses with a cellphone. Granted, while the iPhone is supposedly a convergence of these functions and an adaptive screen and UI will present the varying forms of interaction, I’m one of many that will state the iPhone isn’t much of a phone. If I wanted a real phone, I’d use my Razr. The iPhone is more of a weak-general device and we all know its weaknesses.

The size and Mobility Quotient are defining factors as well. If the size is larger than my cellphone (my Kindle for example) then I won’t be taking this everywhere with me so don’t bother putting music functionality (yes, it’s in the Experimental section) or voice calling into it. If the Mobility Quotient is high, then I will generally interact with it on an on-demand, “snacky” basis rather than a more dedicated, in-your-face manner as I am doing right now on my Air. While I can write this blog entry on my iPhone, only large doses of mind altering drugs will compel me to do that.

‘Nuf said. But am I all wrong on this? Can flexible or rollup displays create a truly useful weak-general, one-size-fits-all device? Can voice, gesture, or Vulcan Mindmeld new interaction models solve the “keyboard barrier” that so many devices suffer today? Are we headed towards a Nebulous Future, per the FastCompany article, where it’s not about singularly and vertically designed devices but rather a distribution of functions that collectively create the experience? For example, the compute and connectivity is always in my wristwatch, but depending on what I am intending on creating or consuming the connectivity may be vectored towards a large display or interaction modality that matches my “intention”. Who, what, or how will that “intention” be determined?

Who knows. For now, I’m just content to speculate about Apple’s tablet device being announced around CES…I MUST HAVE ONE!

Catching a Phish with a Smartphone

There was more news today in Dark Reading on the vulnerabilities of the Apple iPhone, RIM Blackberry, and Palm Pre as a result of spear-phishing tests using a phony LinkedIn email. The impact of this social engineering threat is two-fold:

1) There are so many people using their smartphones to view corporate and personal email that it’s hard to guess whether anyone is safe from this sort of attack.
2) Social networking is becoming one of the killer apps on smartphones, especially when coupled with location (such as GPS) and the real-time web (such as Twitter). The attack preys upon the insatiable need to be connected to our communities, even though I have idea why Bill Gates would want to connect over LinkedIn.

According to Joshua Perrymon, CEO of PacketFocus, “he was able to get his spoofed message through 100 percent of the time.” 100%!!!

How do you fix this? According to the article, “The trouble with socially engineered, targeted attacks is that there’s no real “patch” to protect products and users from falling for them. Email authentication technologies like PGP are not widely adopted, and it’s difficult for vendors to spot spoofed email messages, experts say.”

The only resort is to rewind to the stones ages of landline and pen/paper. Highly unlikely so I foresee we’re in for quite the Tsunami of Insecurity with infected mobile devices by the millions and billions.

Biggest Security Threats to Federal Agencies

Today an article in Dark Reading titled Federal Agencies: Online Collaboration, Cyber Terrorism, Mobility, Web 2.0 Their Biggest Security Threats outlines the results of a survey by the Ponemon Institute on what ails our government’s agencies the most in terms of security threats and concerns. The survey of 217 senior-level federal IT executives yielded some pretty extraordinary findings.

Of particular concern to me is the results of the survey regarding wireless, “Wireless devices were the most serious target in their organizations, with 57 percent pointing them out as such..“. I haven’t read the report yet, but the cyber threat potential by the fast growing security threat to information, privacy, and national security since the Internet is showing no signs whatsoever of slowing down. The Mobilization Effect on every organization (business or governmental) on the planet is affected by the increasing and insatiable desire of people to be mobile, free of location specificity, yet maintaining access to all the same information when they were tethered.

This goes both ways. The legitimate AND illegitimate or malicious doers are taking advantage of the runaway adoption of wireless devices and technologies, in particular cellphones. This week there was increased coverage of a worm affecting unlocked iPhones apparently having started in Australia but now making its way around the world. Why would that matter to an IT security professional? These same iPhones (and the growing population of unlocked iPhones with SSH holes) are accessing organizational email, being connected to PCs/laptops for charging or tethering, storing and sending documents, having access to LDAP databases through ActiveSync, storing huge caches of contact information, on and on. Not too long ago these were some of the same reasons used for securing desktops then laptops afterwards. Yet the awareness or acknowledgement of the mobile problem, or Tsunami of Insecurity, is in an early stage…albeit growing rapidly!

What’s the solution? Stay tuned for the next post on this topic…

Mob-Armageddon or Sign of the Times?

Last week there were a couple of particularly interesting articles in Dark Reading relating to the emerging apocalypse of mobile bots and the potentially hundreds of millions or billions of infected cell phones conducting malicious activities on behalf of their hacker masters.

The first article discussed a warning issued by the US Computer Emergency Response Team (or US-CERT) on a new free and commercially available application that transforms a Blackberry into a bugging or listening device with no warning to the user. The article titled, US-CERT Warns of Blackberry Spying Application, quotes PhoneSnoop and the developer of the app, Sheran Gunasekera, as having been “surprised US-CERT identified his app in an advisory.” In Sheran’s defense, he appears genuinely interested in getting the word out regarding the vulnerability of the Blackberry mobile devices and its potential for abuse. This abuse can lead to incredible breaches of security and confidential/classified communications occurring in board rooms, government facilities, financial trading floors…anywhere.
The second article was focused around the vulnerability of smart phones, their rich web browsers, and how social engineering can open huge holes in their security. The article titled, iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Pre All Vulnerable to Spear-Phishing Experiment, describes an experiment conducted by PacketFocus with an opted-in group of users across various organizations. A spoofed LinkedIn invitation message made to look as if it came from Bill Gates was sent to all the users in the experiment. According to Joshua Perryman, CEO of PacketFocus, “the trouble with socially engineered, targeted attacks is that there’s no real “patch” to protect products and users from falling for them.” But the ONE thing that is the scariest to me (no post-Halloween pun intended) is that Joshua was successful in getting the targeted users to accept the spoofed LinkedIn message 100% of the time! How do you protect against that?
Indeed, how does an organization protect against these vulnerabilities affecting most of the increasingly popular and purchased smart phones on the market? I think there are a few things that can be done, for now:
1) Have full visibility and collect analytics on where these devices are within your organization and how they are being used. Why? You can’t protect what you don’t know is there.
2) Establish security and usage policies for these devices, especially when they are not necessarily used for business purposes.
3) Work with vendors and service providers to implement security and authentication mechanisms to at least minimize the impact of important information being lost or compromised.
In an increasingly mobile and connected society, this is certainly a sign of the times.

Mobility and Productivity…Enemies or Allies?

Enterprises and government agencies are mobilizing at both a brisk and alarming rate. The adoption of mobile devices and applications by end users is far outpacing that of the IT and InfoSec organizations to certify or validate the information assurance and regulatory compliance with respect to the entirety of their respective enterprises. There are devices and services such as from Research In Motion that are more mature in the complexities of enterprise security and intranet application mobility. But at least as far as the press buzz is concerned (I’m sure data will support the buzz), rapid adoption of devices that were not designed with an enterprise security focus (such as Apple’s iPhone) or mobile applications which have nothing to do with enterprise productivity or security (YouTube, Twitter clients, Facebook, and many social networking apps and services) will present ever-increasing risks to security and workplace productivity.

In a recent article in The Economist titled Big Brother Bosses, it is yet another chapter of how companies are concerned about what their employees are up to from an online perspective. Is it helping my company make money? Is it saving my company any money? Is it making the particular employee do his/her job better so there is a benefit to the company and its shareholders? In the case of a YouTube app streaming cool music videos on an employee’s iPhone while they’re taking an impromptu “break”, the answer is no.

There are many perspectives to the mobile impact towards workplace productivity, information security and regulatory compliance.

The CFO: Am I getting the most from my workforce? How do I subsidize and who do I subsidize with implications of corporate liability exposure to whatever these employees do on their mobile devices? Mobility is intuitively a huge productivity enhancement, but only if I ensure that the RIGHT employees are using these types in the RIGHT way.
The CIO: How do I support the mobilization of my enterprise without sacrificing security and productivity AND not turn my infrastructure and management upside down? This includes both the mobile phones and mobile desktops (i.e., laptops and netbooks).
The CSO/CISO: Might be same as for the CIO, but usually with a stronger and deeper focus on security now and moving forwards. (Ed.: BTW, CIO CSO CISO).
The Employee: I want to be able to do my job anytime, anywhere, and on any device. But I also don’t want my privacy intruded upon.
The HR Manager: How do I implement corporate policies that clearly articulate the right and wrong usages of mobile devices, services, and applications? More importantly, if we speculate there are issues, how do I enforce it without exposing the company to lawsuits by employees?
The Regulator: I know how to craft Sarbanes-Oxley et al requirements to the various corporations (public or private) that are bound to comply. But as perimeters break down, the IT network edge morphs, and mobile/wireless adoption continues to increase, how do I audit and verify compliance to the same regulations?

So what is the solution? There is no one-size-fits-all in terms of technology, rules of thumb, architecture or policy definition. It is literally the “it depends” answer. But here is what I recommend:

– Speak to your peers in other organizations about what they are doing about it?
– Get some free consulting from some of the private security consultants who are active in your industry/vertical?
– Ask your vendors for their opinions, but have a big grain of salt on the side.
– Read…a LOT! There are tons of information, white papers, blogs (like this one), trade rags, analyst reports, news/press, etc. Get informed so that you can refute or agree with the opinions you’ll have blasted at you.

– Develop a strategy and solution that are end-to-end viable. What I mean by this is don’t take an overly facility-centric viewpoint. You need to account for mobilization, information security, and regulatory compliance for when employees are BOTH on premise and on the road.
– Don’t get enamored with technology religion and be flexible, but innovative. Take an inventory of what are the devices, services, and applications that are impacting me. Yesterday it was WiFi and hotspots. Tomorrow it’s going to be mobile broadband and the “anywhere office”…in a BIG way!
– Don’t forget common sense! This is self explanatory.

I would love to hear your comments, flames, rhetoric, opinions, and general feedback on these topics.

Kindle v2.0

New Kindle is coming out! Yay, or neh? Somewhere in the middle. It’s lighter, faster, better battery, and has a cool new “Read to me” feature which will turn it into the biggest iPod ever (READ: can’t I just use the audiobook version of a particular book instead of a robotic voice?). Although it’s not necessarily cheaper at $359. So hurry up and get your order in…they’ll start shipping February 24th.

A couple of really, really nice-to-have features would include: color display and touch screen. Apparently there is no color for eInk technology (though, read the article from eInk), though the new display goes from 4 shades of grey to 16. But touch screen would be such a great feature to more mimic the actions of flipping pages on a book, use a multi-touch gesture to zoom in and out…OH WAIT, isn’t that the iPhone/iTouch without the big screen?!?! Somehow it always digresses to an iPhone discussion.

And yet, Amazon announced they’ll be making Kindle content available on smartphones, like the iPhone. I’m not sure the “user experience” of reading a book on a 5 inch screen would be an enticement to buy more content, but the rest the iPhone has going for it. The Holy Grail of ebook reading and consumption hasn’t been cracked yet, IMHO. While I own a Kindle and love it, I love it more for the _connected_ experience hence readily available selection of tons of content. It’s all about the connected experience, isn’t it? If the iPhone were not connected, wouldn’t it just be an iPod?