I am impressed by how aggressive Amazon has become with promoting the Kindle.
Aside for their recent (and rather dumb) move of erasing some books people already purchased due to a copyright issue, Amazon has done a masterful job of supporting and extending their Kindle ebook reader ecosystem. I am starting to see far more Kindles on the trains and subways I take each days, and they seem to be appealing to a fairly broad demographic. I am also hearing more people talk about possibly getting a Kindle for themselves, a sign that it’s starting to move a little more mainstream than the original Kindle 1 ever managed to do.
Amazon’s Kindle library continues to grow, providing prospective buyers with a sense of confidence that their choices will continue to expand. On top of that, the recent Kindle price cut, bringing it down to $299, is another step in the right direction. Though I personally believe it will need to move below $100 to really start to gain mainstream traction, breaking below the $300 price crosses a psychological threshold that makes it easier to bring in that next level of interested buyer.
I have had the chance over the last several weeks to borrow my wife’s Kindle and use it on a daily basis. The device itself is incredibly convenient to carry and hold, and really does become transparent once you start reading on it. You just see the words without the hardware getting in the way.
Another great move on Amazon’s part was the introduction of a Kindle reader application for iPhone. Being able to read on the iPhone definitely extends the usefulness of Kindle ebooks for me. When I’m stuck on a line or waiting for a train, I can easily sync with the Kindle 2 and continue reading on the smaller device. It is even a viable reader without having a Kindle at all. Since I don’t actually own the Kindle myself, most of my reading prior to this has been on the iPhone. While certainly not as nice to read on as a regular Kindle, it is a more than acceptable experience. I have read four books (over 1500 ‘real’ pages) this way already, and wouldn’t hesitate recommending this to anyone who isn’t ready to purchase the physical reader yet.
What excites me most, however, is the new Kindle DX. Short of having a color e-Ink screen (which probably won’t be available for another two years or so) it is my ideal ebook platform. It is light and thin, making it easy to hold, but has a large enough screen that I can read it comfortably without my glasses.
Equally important, the Kindle DX includes a native PDF renderer. This means that I could use it to store the incredible number of documents – mostly technical manuals, journals, and brochures – that I end up carrying around with me for work. While being pitched more in academic circles as a device for textbooks, I think it shines as a reader that can address the needs of any technical professional.
Amazon is making all the right moves with new Kindle, and is really starting to build out the ecosystem needed to support it. The demand is there for Kindle, even if the devices are still a bit pricey for most people. As production costs for the readers fall along the natural technology price curve, Amazon should be well positioned to dominate in this space.
I continue to be impressed by what they have accomplished here.