Kindle Not Looking to Compete with iPad

Discussion
May 27, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Amazon.com’s CEO Jeff Bezos is looking to put the e-tailer’s
Kindle device in the hands of the 10 percent of the population that are serious
readers. Those consumers, Amazon’s logic seems to suggest, are not likely to
want to own an iPad.

Speaking to shareholders at the company’s annual meeting
on Tuesday, Mr. Bezos said Amazon was looking at Kindle to be an e-reader and
nothing more beyond that, a la the iPad, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

"There are always ways to do the job better if you are willing to focus
in on one arena," Mr. Bezos said.

Amazon, for example, is not looking
to add a color LCD screen to the Kindle. According to Mr. Bezos, readability
on the black and white Kindle device is superior to the color reflective screen
found on the iPad. Eventually the Kindle may move to color but the technology
is "not quite ready for production," Mr.
Bezos said.

Discussion Questions: What do you think of Amazon’s decision to not try
and compete with Apple’s iPad? Is the premise viable that "serious readers" would
prefer a dedicated reading device? With all the e-reader competition out
there, how do you see the market maturing?

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17 Comments on "Kindle Not Looking to Compete with iPad"


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Dan Desmarais
Guest
Dan Desmarais
10 years 11 months ago

Jeff Bezos and Amazon have been proving everyone wrong and going against the trend for fifteen years. He’s going to continue doing it.

The Kindle works because it’s thin, easy on the battery and it is not a toy or web browser. Adding color will mean a more expensive display and more power.

The goal of 10% of avid readers may equate to 20% or more of Amazon’s book volume. Take out production and shipping costs for 20% of your volume and you have huge cost savings.

Max Goldberg
Guest
10 years 11 months ago

Amazon is wise not to directly compete with the iPad…because they can’t. iPad is a vastly superior device in many ways. That being said, Kindle does one thing, and does it well–it allows one to read books on a portable device that has a screen bigger than a mobile phone. There is a group of consumers that only want that one thing, and want it for less than an iPad. This has nothing to do with whether or not one is a “serious reader.”

Dick Seesel
Guest
10 years 11 months ago

I agree that the Kindle is targeted sharply at the “high-consumption” reader, and it plays neatly into Amazon’s core brand position as a book retailer. I also agree that the prime audience for the iPad is probably the “multi-tasker” looking for a device that can bridge the gap between a smartphone and a netbook. Its principal appeal seems to be as a portable web browser and “app machine.”

However, as a satisfied Kindle owner and user, I do wish the product had more functionality beyond its main purpose as an e-reader. Its browser capacity is limited at best, and the appeal would be broader if the functionality were enhanced by a touch-screen. I wouldn’t doubt that Mr. Bezos is “playing possum,” to some degree, and is already at work finding ways to enhance the Kindle experience while staying focused on its core market.

Phil Rubin
Guest
10 years 11 months ago

Amazon and Bezos have proven time after time that they know their customers and start there, which is very different than Apple and Steve Jobs, who take product-centric approach. For this reason alone, I would not bet against AMZN.

The other fundamental support to this approach is that the Kindle was designed specifically for reading. The iPad was designed for a variety of functions and like so many other consumer electronics devices, the more functionality you build into something, the less it shines at any one dimension. N.B. smart phones, including the iPhone, not coincidentally.

The form factors are a similar contrast, particularly with respect to weight (the iPad is significantly heavier).

But most importantly, is the strategy behind each company’s device: one is selling books and periodicals; the other is selling apps and image(ry).

It’s a big market and as someone who owns both a Kindle (v. 2) and a number of Apple products, there will be plenty of demand for both and for good–and different–reasons.

Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
10 years 11 months ago

I agree. To try to compete with iPad is a mistake, he’s already way behind the curve. People that are avid readers and just want to prevent hauling books on extended trips will continue to buy Kindle for the price point, if nothing else. iPad is a much more expensive toy if all you want to do is read a book.

Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
10 years 11 months ago
I totally agree–there is no need for Amazon to compete against the iPad. And in fact, the Amazon reader was one of the first things that I downloaded to mine. Amazon is not in the consumer electronics business, they are in the media consumption business. Their CE device is merely a way to facilitate easy consumption. Personally, I find their reader better than iBook, the selection is better, and the merchandising of books on their Kindle site is better. Does Steve Jobs care? I think probably not–I had him with “iPad.” The real question is, what does Borders do? Barnes & Noble has their device, and they have a number of stores that is large enough that it could be worth it to invest in the Nook. Borders? Not so much. I know they’re coming out with their own device, but they are so late to the market…. I have to think that eventually all readers will go the way of the Kindle–there for the truly engaged (and with the Nook, the in-store benefits of… Read more »
Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
10 years 11 months ago

Amazon doesn’t appear to want to be all things to all people at any cost. It has expanded into Kindle, carved out a solid market for its participation, and now Amazon seems satisfied that it is serving a good purpose–profitably.

Now it’s up to Apple, America’s most highly-valued and perhaps the most innovative corporation, to continue to expand the magic uses of the iPad. With Apple’s clout and creativeness, Amazon seems to feel there is no real penalty for its prudence.

David Dorf
Guest
10 years 11 months ago

The iPad plays music, yet I’m not going to trash my iPod. The same logic holds for the Kindle. Just as the iPod is perfect for listening to music, the Kindle is perfect for reading books and why mess with perfection?

Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
10 years 11 months ago

I’m just trying to recall any company that has won over the long term by choosing not to compete and frankly I can’t.

Kindle’s toast.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 11 months ago

There are two issues that I see from the start: First, it is a wise decision not to compete with the iPad because Amazon will come up a far distant second, at best. Not competing and targeting a specific market is a good decision for Amazon in this specific case, because it tells those serious readers this is the best device for them because it is specifically designed for only one thing.

That brings me to the second point, and with some reservation because it might sound like a contradiction to the above. Has there been a company or product that has been successful having a device that is designed for only one purpose in today’s technological environment? And, has a company been successful when they announce they are not competing? That said, Amazon will continue to be successful. The brand is built around that.

Mark Johnson
Guest
Mark Johnson
10 years 11 months ago

Competition is good, but the Nook is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much better of a product than the Kindle. NOT EVEN CLOSE.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
10 years 11 months ago

It is going to be an integrated device world. There will be one technology that provides everything that a user needs or can think of. It will cross readers, smart phones, iPods, net books, at-home television and at-home phones.

Amazon is right to not try to compete. They can’t. In the end, Kindle users will migrate to a more sophisticated device. What Amazon should focus on is to be the primary supplier to every more sophisticated device. With regard to reading books, a device that will provide the user a convenient read on the subway or on the beach, to project on the TV or a larger computer screen at home, or to plug into their car and become an audio book.

Bill Hanifin
Guest
10 years 11 months ago

Phil Rubin wrapped it up very well above.

One caveat that I note is price point. Amazon must maintain a significant differential from iPad in order to protect its “avid reader” market. Even the serious readers that Amazon is targeting with the Kindle will consider buying the iPad if they think they can get a nearly equal reader with other functionality.

We’re a nation that likes to trade-up and super-size. Amazon should continue its focused effort on making the best reader in the market but also be mindful of the fickle nature of the American consumer.

James Tenser
Guest
10 years 11 months ago

Both Jobs and Bezos know in their guts that over the long haul, the device won’t matter nearly as much as the content it delivers and the tasks it enables. Tablets and readers will be semi-disposable supplies, like our office computers and cell phones – used for a couple of years and then discarded for the next update. I tend to believe the trend favors a general-purpose device, but it will need to be light, cheap, connected and able to access a wide array of apps and content.

Kai Clarke
Guest
10 years 11 months ago

Jeff Bezos and Amazon are clearly ignoring the obvious. We are in a connected world, and wherever a single device can replace multiple devices, it’s a superior product.

Amazon cannot succeed by telling the market what Amazon feels it wants, but instead it should listen to what the market is telling Amazon. Millions of iPad owners cannot be wrong, and next year will allow for Apple to provide for an even greater feature set, at a lower price, to consumers who want to do more things with their iPad.

Andrea Ramirez
Guest
10 years 11 months ago

If you’re a reader, the readability on the Kindle is better, and you can read in direct sunlight. You can’t do that on the iPad. Serious readers don’t have to read serious subject matter–they just want to enjoy their hobby of choice without the eye strain.

MELISSA ROWE
Guest
MELISSA ROWE
10 years 11 months ago

Prior to the iPad I coveted the Kindle, especially when Oprah touted the revolutionary aspect of it.

I just picked up my iPad yesterday, however, and compare it to my very first Barbie with her own case and wardrobe I received on my 5th Christmas. My brain is overwhelmed with all the options I’ve been able to explore thus far and will lose sleep again tonight, I’m sure, as the incredible amount of functions available are still boggling my mind.

I truly believe Kindle’s popularity will wane as the iPad becomes more mainstream. I equate it as the answer to all of us that lug around too many tech devices now. WHY? This little bad boy has it all!

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