Monday, September 7, 2009

"Gadget Makers Can Find Thief, but Don’t Ask"

This New York Times story focuses on the frustration of some owners whose Kindle reader was lost or stolen. According to the article, Amazon won't work with customers to locate missing or stolen Kindles unless the owner can get a subpoena from the police. Owners are understandably irked that Amazon won't even deactivate the device, which would make it useless because the thief could not register it and get new e-books. It seems like a self-serving move because if a thief, or an honest person who finds a lost Kindle, registers the device, Amazon can continue to sell through that device.

I'm a Kindle owner and this news makes me wary. I'm probably not the only person who has a sense of loyalty and even gratitude to the companies that make and support my favorite devices, and I do associate the pleasure I derive from my Kindle with Amazon. Being reminded that Amazon is a business, and that customer service is important to most businesses only insofar as it helps the bottom line, is distasteful. But then, real life is often distasteful.

Be that as it may, as portable and pervasive IT devices become more common, and we grow more dependent upon them, we are likely to see more of this kind of problem. Amazon has one good argument for its stance: They don't want to deactivate any Kindle's by mistake. How can they know how the device changed hands? If it's too easy to get a device disabled, pranksters will have a field day.

With a reading device, this is a nuisance. With future technologies, it might be a life-or-death matter. Wouldn't it be nice to forestall problems like this?

Ken Pimple, PAIT Project Director

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cool post as for me. I'd like to read a bit more about this matter. The only thing I would like to see on that blog is a few photos of any devices.
Jeff Karver
Cell phone jammer