Amazon launched Kindle November 2007 following its predecessors much trodden path. It uses the Sprint EVDO network to read over 110K Books + Newspapers, magazines & blogs. Immediate to its release “Kindle” grabbed enormous attention in the blogosphere – which weaned in the subsequent weeks. Surprisingly, kindle was out of stock in only few days after its launch.
This May, Citigroup Analyst Mark Mahaney claimed they expect that Amazon would generate between $400 million and $750 million in revenue from the Kindle by 2010, or 1% – 3% of Amazon’s total revenue.Citigroup backs their predictions partly by reviewing the public data as provided on Amazon’s customer reviews.One can clearly throw doubts on the value of customer reports on Amazon, the exclusive retailer selling Kindle. So whats’ the truth about Kindle? If the blogosphere can reflect a success – and we believe that it most certainly does, one can observe the low vibes Kindle is generating since its launch.
To generate a better understanding on how kindle is being perceived by the public, and to unfold the mysterious kindle phenomena, we have presented this observed trend at forums dedicated to e-book readers and tech & gadgets hard core users. Note that our questions concerning Kindle were not focused on the products characteristics, rather we intentionally kept that open to free flowing discussions.
Once again we were overwhelmed by the amount of valuable information we received. Evaluating the responses, we wondered who are kindle’s true competitors: palm based PDF readers? Sony reader? Or is the iPhone crossing territories once again?
We have categorized the responses according to the core feedbacks
- Visibility, Convenience and Design Factors
- Technological Factors
- General Feedbacks
A. Visibility, Convenience and Design: E-book experienced readers reported the convenience of reading books using palm size devices. Kindle with its large screen holds a distinct advantage. Most of the critiques we observed primarily wails on its poor design and Kindle as a single purpose single source device (versus the iPhone).
1. Screen Size – Visibility :
“The Sony Reader is much easier on the eyes if you’re going to do a lot of reading but can’t beat the convenience of something palm sized when you’re standing waiting for the train.”
” The screen [ iPhone ] is rather small for an ebook reader, however, I find it works great for me.”
“…the iPhone is a poor e-book reader because the screen is too small.”
2. Convenience on the go, multipurpose devices
“Before my iPhone, I used a PDA. I find the iPhone to be significantly better. I have not used or even considered any of the dedicated ebook readers such as Sony’s or Kindle simply because they are too big. If I wanted to carry something that big, I’d care the actual book”.
” A Sony or a Kindle being as big as the book, the advantage is that it is as big as one book, but can hold dozens. So if I am going to spend, say, 3 months in China I can take all of my books in the space needed by one book…OTOH, when spending 1/2 hour standing on a NY (or Beijing) subway the PDA or iPhone is much more convenient. “
” Today’s wired or is it wireless, world prefers the convenience of a single device containing all the technologies that users require in terms of social networking, business tools (outlook, excel et al) and entertainment. So, give me facebook mobile, my pictures, videos and cool im/text messaging on my iPhone and I’m golden “.
3. Design & Product Attractiveness:
” It just seems that the ‘promises’ of “ease of use”, space savings,e-book outlet etc are not enough to overcome it ‘s somewhat unattractive shape and the ‘love for the real thing’ (i.e. book) that people have…”
” poor product design “
” problems with the design of the Kindle hardware “
” (1) accessing menu items & turning pages is a bit slower than on the Palm TX I was used to, (2) difficult to read in dim light so like a real book, (3) the cover is poorly designed in that it presses the scroll wheel when closed “
B. Technological Factors :
Going by 2007 most popular e-book format PDF is the most downloaded E book format. Kindle currently does not support PDF nor can their conversion service change it to a compatible format.
“It’s lacking some key features that are preventing me from purchasing one, namely the ability to natively import and display PDFs as well as potential DRM challenges”.
“The strength of the Kindle is its e-paper technology (granted, not unique to the and the free & widespread wireless access”.
“Since all of the Kindle ebooks you purchase from Amazon are in their proprietary DRM format , you are not able to share them with friends, there is no way to move them to another device or a computer. You are locked into the Kindle and you are locked into Amazon.”
“It’s weakness is DRM, DRM, DRM.”
“Kindle is a rather static device as opposed to the iPhone which is hacked a new way every month.”
C. General Feedbacks:
“inadequate vision, poor product design and lack of adequate marketing strategy led to the creation of a mediocre unsuccessful product.”
“Kindle is a neat device. Everybody likes it but nobody needs it. And nobody buys it. Kindle’s doesn’t address any need that paperback and hardback books don’t already address perfectly well. And books don’t require a reader device that costs a lot of money, eats batteries, and will be discontinued some day, rendering your entire library obsolete….Good idea .. just a little too late in my opinion”.
Evaluating by the responses, it emerges that Kindle could not get associated into an iPod / iPhone- like emotional bonding with its potential users. Even among the existing users – we found constrained reactions. The fact that the overall discussions were focused on technological features and design critiques, hardly on the fun and experience can teach us that Amazon will have to work hard to raise the excitement it needed as part of the brands promise.
Kindle 2: What’s next for Kindle?
While skepticism was heard right from the start concerning the potential of a new e-book reader to exit its small niche. Kindle has enjoyed the power of the press, following what “the One to already build a better bookstore” has to offer. Acknowledging Amazon’s ability to embrace the brand, we feel that the Kindle has much more to offer. Kindle 2, may improve not only by design but also by embracing more openness, by its ability to support multiple formats (pdf), and by providing multiple reasons to its users to carry the device around (Nokia?).
To match up to Citygroup prediction – Kindle has miles to go!!