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Verizon predicts Kindle copycatting

If only people will make more phone calls

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Verizon's head of device certification expects to see rivals to Amazon's Kindle launching on Verizon's network during 2009, once he has time to certify them.

Verizon started certifying devices for connection to its network last year following complaints of monopolistic control. Twenty-nine rather boring single-function devices have so far made the grade; including an electronic dip stick amongst others. Consumer products are taking longer, Verizon's Tony Lewis told Reuters, because their multi-function nature makes testing more complicated; but apparently lots of such devices will be certified, and launched, during 2009.

While the volume of calls and messaging continues to rise, the income it generates for network operators stubbornly fails to increase. This is putting pressure on the operators to find more innovative ways of using their bandwidth. Kindle is a masterstroke as most users don't even know it sports a mobile phone, connected to the Sprint network, though which it acquires published content over the air. That airtime is paid for by Amazon, who make up the income from the margin on books and magazine subscriptions, all managed by software from Qualcomm.

Operators would love to have more devices connected to their network, ideally without them having to bill users - at least not directly - so Lewis's endorsement of Kindle competitors is no surprise. What's more surprising is how long it's taking to get approval on consumer devices, given Vodafone's familiarity with the process in Europe and elsewhere.

Lewis is certainly in no doubt that a new generation of devices is on its way, citing the seven-week wait that anyone ordering a Kindle is expected to tolerate as proof of an unmet demand for electronic book readers - though those lacking an Oprah endorsement might not prove quite so popular. ®

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