Are Knols the Google Kindle?

Yesterday Google announced (see Udi Manber on the Googleblog) that it was developing and supporting a Wikipedia-like network of Knols which will provide us all with authoritative, collaboratively-authored, information resources. Here are some enthusiastic responses from John Batelle and Peter Suber.

Amazon announced that it was putting SimpleDB its enterprise-scale cloud-based database into private beta. Here are some enthusiastic responses from Nitin Borwankar and Erick Schonfeld.

Google and Amazon are two terrific companies. These both look like important announcements. But we wonder if they will both appear to be significant in 12 months time? My money would go on the SimpleDB service (though I am not competent to judge its technical plausibility). A cloud-based generic database, relational/object oriented, with scaleable and low metred access charges? Sounds like the way to go.

Google becoming a content publisher with a service to rival or complement Wikipedia? Hmm……I doubt that Google is the right environment in which to grow that project. For sure Google will be more concerned about the Amazon announcement than Amazon will be by the Google announcement. Google’s knol universe looks a bit like the mis-step to accompany Amazon’s Kindle. Some innovations simply do not work, even when they are launched by innovative companies.

On the basis of recent developments, one should be properly sceptical with any new product or service which begins with a ‘k’. Apple’s smart new touchscreen laptop/tablet will appear in January and it will not be called the Klamshell or the Kaboose. I will lay you long odds on that.

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