Excerpts from the blog Amazon's Kindle shared the limelight with the iPhone this week after an analyst Monday doubled his sales forecast...

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Excerpts from the blog

Amazon’s Kindle shared the limelight with the iPhone this week after an analyst Monday doubled his sales forecast for the e-book.

Citigroup’s Mark Mahaney predicted Amazon.com would sell 380,000 of the electronic-book readers, up from his earlier expectation of 180,000, pushing Amazon stock up nearly 10 percent.

I’m not so sure version 1 of the $359 device will be a blockbuster, especially since it has at least one crucial shortcoming, in my opinion — the lack of an illuminated screen.

It’s hard to read a Kindle in the shade, and you can’t read it at all in dark places — like in bed — unless you have an external light source. Yes, you need a light for real books, but the Kindle’s an electronic gadget so you expect it to have its own light source.

Amazon must have been thinking the same thing, because it recently received a patent for an accessory reading light for the Kindle. The gadget is described as a “stowed reading light” and has the Kindle’s angular style.

It was designed for Amazon by ATL Technology, a Utah designer and manufacturer of electronic components. An executive there told me the light was designed for Amazon’s e-book.

The patent was filed in March 2007 and granted last month, but it’s not clear whether Amazon plans to produce the Kindle light. I’m waiting to hear back from a spokesman, although I’m not expecting a lot from the secretive company.

Also unclear is where you would stow a light on a Kindle, since the reader doesn’t have any obvious cavities.

But it’s intriguing, especially from a business perspective. Even if Amazon doesn’t sell as many Kindles as some expect, it could grow the business by selling accessories.

Or it could do better than analysts like Mahaney expect, if accessories supplement device sales. Mahaney was talking about just the device and content when he predicted Kindle will be a $1 billion business for Amazon in 2010.

Or perhaps Amazon is being cautious about the light. By selling an external reading light, it would be highlighting the Kindle’s lack of illumination.

It might also tick off buyers who believe a light should have been included in the first place.

Amazon will probably offer Kindle accessories eventually, but maybe we’ll hear first about Kindle 2.0. By the holidays, perhaps?

Zillow steps up local realty ads

Zillow’s announcing a new local advertising service for real-estate agents, banks and service providers.

The company’s providing a self-service console for advertisers to target ads by ZIP code.

It’s already been offering the “EZ Ads” since April 2007, but this upgrade adds tiered pricing and the ability to buy some or all of the ads targeting people searching Zillow for homes in a particular ZIP code.

Also being announced is a national ad program called Zillow Home Direct.

“Zillow is committed to offering local professionals affordable and easy-to-use tools to get in front of our large audience of consumers interested in real estate and buying and selling homes,” Zillow’s vice president of ad sales, Greg Schwartz, said in the news release.

Seattle’s best-funded Web startup is also partnering with 282 newspapers, so they can sell ads on Zillow as well as their own products.

That may give the papers a little more revenue, but doesn’t it seem a huge risk that papers will lose the real-estate shoppers and vendors inhabiting their classified pages to flashy Web services like Zillow?

Maybe I’m too paranoid. Papers still reach far more than Zillow’s 5 million monthly visitors. U.S. newspaper Web sites had 63 million monthly viewers as of December, and daily newspaper readership is 154.3 million, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

Georgia on the map

Microsoft Live Search Maps was the only major Web mapping service to provide good details about South Ossetia, showing Google and Yahoo how it’s done, according to an illustrated comparison on SearchEngineWatch.

Meanwhile, Google’s trying to tamp out speculation about its Georgia maps. They’re lacking because Google doesn’t have the data yet, not because of censorship or a Web attack by militant Russian hackers.

This material has been edited for print publication.

Brier Dudley’s blog appears Thursdays. Reach him at 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com.