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Posts Tagged ‘jeff bezos’

Amazon Says Print is Dead, Long Live the Kindle (Not so fast…)

In Entertainment, Media, Technology, Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 9:27 am
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Image by Yoshimasa Niwa via Flickr

So, earlier this week Amazon put out a press release singing the glories of the Kindle.

It has been a tough few weeks for the Kindle as things have looked up for the iPad while they’ve been caught in a bit of an e-reader price war.

So, you really can’t blame Amazon for putting out a release that trumpets their device.

“Kindle Device Unit Accelerate Each Month in Second Quarter; New $189 Price Results in Tipping Point for Growth” says the release’s headline.

Well, geez. Wow. That’s great, huh? They must be selling gazillions of Kindles by now. How many? Well, let’s look at the release again. Hmm. It’s not there.

How about in The New York Times story about Amazon’s announcement?

Wait. It’s not there either though the Times does repeat Amazon’s claim that “the growth rate of Kindle sales tripled after Amazon lowered the price of the device in late June.”

The problem is that unlike Apple — which regularly touts how many iPads it’s selling — Amazon has never released exact sales figures for the device. paidContent.org has quoted Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos saying they may never release those figures.

So, when they say that growth has tripled… from one to three? Seven to 21? One million to three million? Who knows?

Now, let’s look at the rest of the release: “Amazon.com Now Selling More Kindle Books Than Hardcover Books.”

Again, wow. The previously mentioned New York Times story refers to this news “as a day for the history books — if those will even exit in the future.”

And reading the release, you can’t blame them.

Amazon claims that “over the past three months, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 143 Kindle books. Over the past month, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 180 Kindle books.”

Again, wow.

But…

Since they don’t give us actual sales figures (other than the fact that James Patterson has sold 867,881 Kindle books, one of five writers to sell more than 500,000 KIndle books; the others being: Charlaine Harris, Stieg Larsson, Stephanie Meyer and Nora Roberts), we really don’t know what that means.

Yes, it’s a lot — based on those five writers alone — but how much? And what does it really mean?

Is it that — as Bezos claims — “the Kindle format has now overtaken the hardcover format.”

Is it that e-readers, whether they be Kindles or iPads, are the way things are going?

The second is more likely.

At the same time, as great as the devices are, as I’ve pointed out, e-readers will only really be the future when we figure out how to get them to everyone. Otherwise we need to keep helping libraries and schools make sure they have regular, old, printed books for kids.

Print may not be quite as robust as it used to be but it’s far from dead.

Amazon's New Kindle: Still Too Close to the iPad?

In Entertainment, Technology on July 1, 2010 at 1:11 pm
Kindle DX and Kindle 2

Image via Wikipedia

Starting today Amazon is taking orders for its new Kindle DX and while I have no doubt that people will buy it, I really have to wonder just how many.

First off, the device — which ships July 7 — is priced at $379, which is really too expensive to be considered an impulse buy.

And it’s only $120 away from an iPad and it seems to me that’s a little too close.

What makes it a little more confusing is that just last week, Amazon seemed to recognize the importance of lowering the price, which they did with their slightly smaller version.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has frequently claimed that the iPad and the Kindle aren’t really competitors; they’re different devices intended for different people. The Kindle, he says, is for readers unlike tablets, which are for, I guess, everyone else. He said it again just the other day.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty of great things about the Kindle particularly, as cnet points out, that the thing is incredibly readable in sunlight, unlike the iPad.

Still, the thing is if you have a choice between the $189 Kindle and the $379 Kindle, why get the more expensive one? I guess if you really want a device that is really just a reader, it is your answer. But if you’re going to spend the money, why not just bump it up a little and get a device that does so much more?

I think Amazon’s great but I sort of sense this is a stumble for them.

On the plus side, one bit of really good news is that Amazon has finally released Kindle for Android devices.

As I’ve pointed out, Kindle isn’t just a device — it’s software that runs on many devices. I use Kindle on my iPad on a regular basis — and Android has pretty much been the final frontier for them.

Kindle’s great software. The device — at $189 — is great. At $379 — overpriced, I suspect.

Krossroads for Kindle or Running the Table(ts) Before Apple's Unveiling

In Uncategorized on June 5, 2010 at 8:49 am
Image representing Amazon Kindle as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

So, it’s not exactly a secret that Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference gets underway next week in San Francisco and the newest iteration of the iPhone is expected to be released.

There’s also all sorts of rumors about other things that may or may not be unveiled.

A new version of MobileMe?

An updated Mac mini?

And while it’s beginning to seem increasingly unlikely that a Verizon iPhone will be a part of the mix at this point, Apple CEO Steve Jobs promises people “won’t be disappointed.”

It also seems that there won’t be any major announcements related to the iPad, which may or may not be the leading tablet device out there but certainly has the perception of setting the bar.

One thing that is for sure is that the new iPhone will give users access to Apple’s iBookstore. It was something that was announced as part of the preview of the phone’s new operating system and that has been driven home in recent press reports.

What makes that tidbit especially relevant is that a report came out last week basically saying that advances with the iPad, the iPhone and other tablet devices that allow users to read books among other things are going to severely limit the growth of the dedicated e-reader such as the Kindle.

“This is a real wake-up call for e-reader vendors and will force them to improve their products and their communications about the benefits of owning a dedicated e-reader,” said the report from Informa telecoms and media. “We believe this ill cause the market to segment into two different groups – low price, low feature and high price, advanced feature models.”

Informa believes that dedicated e-reader sales will peak in 2013 and then start to fall.

First, let’s just dismiss the second part of their assertion about the market segmenting because saying that there’s going to be high end and low end devices… well, geez. Really? Would have never figured that.

In fact, I would suspect that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos would agree with the high-end and low-end reading devices concept except he would say that his Kindle is the high-end reading device and things like the iPad that do other things are the low end in his book.

Bezos says that unlike the iPad, “the Kindle is all about reading” and that serious readers are happy to have a device geared toward them pointing out that high-end cameras are still relevant despite the prevalence of camera phones (the Kindle is the high-end camera in that equation).

This sort of thinking seems to also be reflected in the latest announcements about the new version of the KIndle coming out this summer.

Bloomberg reported last week that Amazon will introduce a new, thinner Kindle in August with a more responsive screen and sharper picture. It will also be about half as thick as the iPad.

One thing that it won’t have is color and that’s okay with Bezos who says it’s “still some ways out.”

Meanwhile, Android-based tablets are proliferating.

There’s the  Dell Streak and the Samsung Galaxy .

And, as IDG News wrote, at the Computex Tapei 2010 Show, there are more than a dozen Android and Windows rivals to the iPad coming out.

The problem with all of these new tablets (except, obviously, the Kindle) is that, for now anyway, they are lacking as e-readers.

Obviously, they can’t read stuff from the Apple store and, Amazon has yet to release Kindle software for Android devices, though that’s expected to finally change this summer.

The bottom line is that I think that Amazon’s going to be okay especially since Kindle isn’t just a device, it’s a software platform that will soon be on many more devices.

Last November, a report from Gartner predicted that this is going “to be the year when e-book readers really beomce popular consumer electronic devices” and I suspect they’re right.

Auletta, Amazon and the Death of Publishing

In Entertainment, Technology, Uncategorized on April 22, 2010 at 10:19 am
Image representing Amazon Kindle as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

Back in the early 1990s when I worked for The New York Post, there was a sense that The New York Times daily coverage of the city wasn’t all that it could be and what they did — which drove competitors crazy — was they might ignore a story for a couple of days and the come out with these long, comprehensive pieces that included everything, including the kitchen sink.

And that’s kind of how I feel about Ken Auletta’s new piece in The New Yorker that asks the question, “Can the IPad topple the Kindle and save the book business?”

If you haven’t read it, it is worth the time because even if he doesn’t have a lot that’s new, he pretty much has everything that others (including me) have written.

Reading it, though, I realized that I think it might have been a more interesting read if Auletta had taken the opposite track — asking not whether Apple can save publishing but exploring whether Amazon can kill publishers.

Auletta quotes a “close associate” of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as saying,”What Amazon really wanted to do was make the price of e-books so low that people would no longer buy hardcover books. Then the next shoe to drop would be to cut publishers out and go right to authors.”

It’s not a new concern.

Last December when Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People announced he was shifting his digital rights to Amazon from his traditional publisher, Simon and Schuster, for a year, the New York Times led off by saying:

“Ever since electronic books emerged as a major growth market, New York’s largest publishing houses have worried that big-name authors might sign deals directly with e-book retailers or other new ventures, bypassing traditional publishers entirely.”

Then, in January, Amazon announced a plan allowing authors who give their exclusive e-book rights to Amazon to earn 70 percent royalty.

That was followed five days later by Ian McKewan shifting the e-rights to five of his books to Amazon, doubling his usual royalty as became the first big-name British author to sign on.

And, of course, there’s Stephen King, the kind of author who perhaps symbolizes the greatest threat to traditional publishers.

When the second version of the Kindle was announced, King read from a novella he wrote specifically to be distributed through the device.

It was such a success that a couple of weeks ago, he released a second story, created just for the Kindle.

And it’s not just the big names like King and Covey.

Galleycat, the publishing blog, recently interviewed mystery writer JA Kornath, who is making quite a nice living selling for the Kindle.

So, will Amazon prove to be the death of publishing? Will the IPad save it?

Probably no and no, though they are already clearly having an effect.

And, as I’ve pointed out before, until we figure out how to make sure there are enough devices for every student in every school to be able to get one, we need to make sure there are printed books out there for people to read.