Kindle – market mini-analysis

OK, I just got it. The Kindle does have a market. Bezos is correct of course that the reason books persist in the digital world is their ergonomic appeal. With the Kindle he’s working to maintain that book advantage while adding the digital improvements modern technology can offer – that is a library of Alexandria at your fingertips.

Yet the obvious challenge here is what I’ve noted before – laptop users won’t switch to a device that offers ergonomic improvements but less functionality and more cost, and non-tech people won’t adopt tech approaches this quickly. So, who does that leave in the Kindle market? Jeff Bezos is one person, and I think he’ll buy one. I’d probably buy one if I had money to burn on a redundant but somewhat better device for my reading.

So the Kindle market will be heavy duty book readers who *also* like technology *and* have a fairly high threshold of disposable income. This is not a trivial number of people, though it’s probably only in the neighborhood of about 1-2% of the US population. Let’s assume that the number of people who are heavy readers and would like a Kindle and can afford a Kindle are 2% of the US population. That’s a potential market of 6 million people, which does not seem all that problematic. If they can penetrate 10% of this market and sell 600,000 devices along with the many books people will buy at 9.99 maybe it won’t lose money, and perhaps even could evolve into a device with broader appeal.

But I wouldn’t bet on this.

3 thoughts on “Kindle – market mini-analysis

  1. Sorry to say, but in my opinion this is the Microsoft Bob of tech devices to date. Bezos, with all due respect, is out of his mind on this one – surrounded by NYU grads looking for new projects at which to throw money, not unlike Microsoft. I worked at MS Research for a while, and we had tons of projects floating around just like this (even a device not unlike this, 8 years ago). The only difference was, when the rubber hit the road, Bill and company were smart enough to pull the plug 90% of the time. What happened to Jeff?

    Seriously…the big problem with this (beyond the obvious loss of the tactile experience of reading a physical book), was pointed out in the Motley Fool’s review: If you are an avid book reader, odds are you will have no problem taking your 8.95 new paperback novel to the poolside and leaving it there while you take a dip, and only being mildly annoyed when the pages get stuck to your mai tai. Are you going to do that with a $400 device? Maybe. But not me. my Freebie MP3 player from E3? Absolutely, but not a $400 dollar paperweight.

    More questions…Are you going to jam it in your checked bag at the airport to make space in your carry-on for that bottle of tequila? Toss it on the bed from the table to make room for your laptop? Stick it under the corner of a table with one leg two short? Use it as an impromptu pillow on that unplanned layover while the fog at JFK clears?

    The other beauty of a real book? Regardless of the impressive battery life, the fact is I NEVER have to plug in a book to be able to read it, or (gasp) fold down a page for lack of a bookmark, or write a note in the margin. The practical uses of a “real” book boggle the mind. Oddly, the reasoning behind the Kindling (j/k) does too.

    I applaud the thought, and maybe we’re (being one of that 1-2% target market) all ready to plunk down $400 for this, but I doubt it. If this were a $30 dollar device used to get books to students who don’t have them, then maybe.

    Of course, I would have choked if you told me that people would pay $595 for a game console 5 years ago…

  2. Oh no Metroknow, it can’t be a MICROSOFT BOB! Several good points above. I hadn’t thought of the challenge of damaging the thing and theft, which are trivial issues with books but a significant problem here. “Honey, the kids ran the Kindle through the washer”….

    It’s a loser. I’ll be *floored* if they sell even 100,000 by Christmas and I assume they’d need many times that to make it viable.

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