After my gripe yesterday that Amazon and Visa should work out a kink in their billing plans, I heard from a lot of readers who'd had the same problem. (Gist: Amazon charges 15 or 30 cents for Kindle-related fees; Visa flags these micro-charges as likely fraud and freezes your card.) Here's a sample reply, which also includes a sensible fix:
"The charges are doubly surprising, because for that small rate I suspect Amazon pays more in Visa fees than it gets in money.
"I'm surprised they aren't doing what Apple does in the iTunes store. For a $0.99 purchase, Apple pre-authorizes your card for something like $10 and then, once your purchases accrue to a reasonable level, they actually run the larger charge on the accumulated purchases. The only way they will end up running a 99-cent charge is if you buy a track and then don't buy anything more until the pre-authorization is about to expire."
After my claim a few days ago that we were still a long way from the day of the "all in one" electronic device -- camera plus phone plus e-reader plus netbook plus personal groomer etc -- Derek Thompson elaborates on his views, and a reader writes in, to similar effect:
"It's a debatable point, for sure, but I think your time horizon is a little short and have missed some recognition of how much the era has already arrived.
"Only a few years ago, no digital camera could match a 'real' camera, and we're already at a point that consumer point-and- shoots rival film cameras from 5 years ago, aside from the lens flexibility that most people don't need. Give it a few more years and you'll see 10 megapixel cameras in cell phones. And while you probably will never want to put a cellphone photo of mom hanging over the mantle, we've already reached the point where cellphones are rivaling dedicated cameras and camcorders for the *volume* of photos and videos taken.