Amazon Should Stick With Content
With the release of the Kindle 2 and the Kindle DX more people than ever are making the switch to a digital reading device. eBooks have been around for a long time, but what the market lacked was a delivery system. Amazon has endeavored to fill that void.
The Kindle’s price point still remains too high for anyone but technophiles to justify the purchase. While I have no doubt that Amazon is committed to bringing the highest quality product to market, it’s not a hardware shop. Jeff Bezos has turned online retail into a science and he’s done it by making it easy for people to find what they want. What he’s done with the Kindle is slightly more ambitious. Amazon selected a product with little demand, in this case digital books, and created a demand for them.
The book industry is behind when it comes to digital delivery. The music and film industry were/are resistant to digital content in an open web world; how are Putnam, Scholastic and other publishing houses going to handle the transition. Amazon was founded as a book retailer, so they are in a unique position to use existing publisher relationships to help ease the pains of digital child birth. Ideally the Kindle can serve as a transitional platform. It’s closed system makes it a little more palatable for publishers while they implement new digital strategies that take into account the inevitable shift to web revenues.
With sales of netbooks strong and persistent rumors of a new Apple Tablet it is doubtful the Kindle will be able to compete other than as a niche product. The largest advantage Amazon has is a valuable lead in content. The Kindle may never be a household device, but it’s popularity with the digerati has proven that digital books and premium content is a viable business. Amazon could best serve it’s business model by allowing the existing hardware companies to compete for the best reader and focusing on being the leader in digital content delivery.
Amazon has created a tremendous product, but like most products that serve only one function it’s usefulness will likely be short-lived. The genius of Kindle is not the device itself, but instead the method. Bezos created a market where there was none before. This act places him and Amazon among a very select few leaders in the industry that can impose their vision upon the consumer. The Kindle has caused the market to react and users to take notice. No matter the future of Amazon’s eReader, the eBook is here to stay.