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August 28, 2009

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Kindle 2020 Playbook

I like Farhad Manjoo’s approach in this piece about Kindle competitors. Not: “Here, then, is a survey of the market!” but rather “Listen boys… this is what ya gotta do.”

Posted August 28, 2009 at 11:00 | Comments (1) | Permasnark
File under: Briefly Noted


My favorite is Lesson #1:

"Beat the Kindle on features, not just price. One of the reasons the iPod managed to stay on top for so long was that Apple was constantly innovating. Its rivals would match its features—stylish design, unbeatable interface, ever-better capacity—but by the time they got there, Apple had invented some newer, better, smaller, sleeker iPod, and its old version was now passť. Eventually there seemed to be only one reason to buy a rival device—it was cheaper."

Well, this is actually an open question: hammering away at the iPod on price didn't work, but maybe it would for e-book readers. If Costco or Wal-Mart started selling a solid $99 ebook reader tomorrow, maybe it would kill. Who knows?

What seems certain is that it's HARD to match Amazon on features and beat them on price, because Amazon captures so much value from its vertical integration - the device, the store, etc. Amazon didn't need to spend a ton of money on external marketing -- itself is a giant marketing space for the Kindle. Nicholson Baker's article actually got that this was part of the success of the device: everywhere you turned, you were offered a chance to buy a book for the Kindle, to bug the publisher to put it out on the Kindle, to buy a Kindle, to Kindle Kindle Kindle Kindle.

Also, this is also (covertly) a message to Amazon, a shadow article embedded in this one, titled "How Amazon Wins." The lesson is: keep making the device better. Don't let anyone beat you on features, ever.

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