For the past two weeks, the information technology world has debated what a mysterious device known as Ginger is. After inventor Dean Kamen's company DEKA Research filed a patent application, reports have filtered in of it being a motorized vehicle, similar to the scooters teenagers are zooming around on these days. Kamen isn't saying a word, and neither is Steven Kemper, the journalist writing a book about this device, which Apple Computer Inc.'s CEO Steve Jobs calls as significant as the PC.
Although few people know exactly what this device is, Amazon.com Inc. is offering to alert customers about its availability and has stated its intention to possibly sell the product. "'IT,' also known as 'Ginger,' has not yet been released by its inventor, but we'll be glad to notify you by e-mail when we actually know what IT is and if IT will be available for purchase from Amazon.com," said a release on Amazon's Web site.
The Ginger page, as Amazon executives call it, went up on Tuesday Jan. 23. The company however, has no count of the hits registered on the page, nor do they know how many people have signed up for e-mail notification of Ginger's availability.
"We put it up there because we've always offered the biggest selection," said Justin Osmer, public relations manager at Amazon.com. "So we thought it was appropriate to offer more information on this because the public's so interested in it."
Osmer does agree that the hype surrounding Ginger is unlike anything he's ever seen. "It's pretty phenomenal," he said. "Weve always said we'll work hard, have fun and make history. It's something we're having fun with. We want people to learn more about it, as we learn more about it. There's more news to come but we just wanted to help fuel the fire and help people have an outlet to get more information."
It comes as no surprise that Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos is among the few people who've had a sneak peek at Ginger. Like the others, he has been impressed enough by Kamen's invention to pump thousands of dollars into the product's development. Other investors include Jobs, venture capitalist John Doerr, managing director of Credit Suisse First Boston Corp. Michael Schmertzler, Xerox Corp.'s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Paul Allaire, and Vernon Loucks, a retired CEO of Baxter International Inc.
Bezos' staff hasn't been let in on the secret, but that hasn't stopped them from marketing something that might just turn out to be much ado about nothing.
"We don't have any idea to be honest," said Osmer. "We're excited about it and excited to see what it turns out to be."
Amazon.com Inc., in Seattle, Washington, can be reached at +1-206-266-1000, or on the Web at http://www.amazon.com/. Deka Research and Development Corp., in Manchester, new Hampshire, can be reached at +1-603-669-5139, or on the Web at http://www.dekaresearch.com/.