Blog Post

Hey Mom, Even You Can Get a Kindle

{9392f75c-7287-4d03-a0c2-a2d8deb4ba7a}_kindleThe blogosphere is abuzz with the news that Amazon (s AMZN) is cutting the price of the Kindle by $40, to $259. Being an early adopter, I paid $399 for the device, which most of the time sits gathering dust, but is a constant companion when I am traveling, both locally and internationally. Sure, Amazon has brought down the price, but I still think the device is too expensive and needs to be cut by another $100, to $150, in order to make the reader truly affordable and mainstream.

Maybe that will happen sooner than later. Amazon says it’s going to start selling the device internationally and this new version will be able to download books in 100 countries. Some analysts have estimated that there will be about 6 million Kindles in the hands of consumers, and with these new international devices, that number could go up sharply, giving Amazon the scale it needs and thereby allowing it to bring down the price.

Forrester Research today increased its forecast for e-reader sales in the U.S. to 3 million units, up from a previous forecast of 2 million -– with 900,000 of them seen selling during the holiday season. “Lower prices, more content, better distribution, and lots of media hype are contributing to faster-than-expected adoption of eReader devices in 2009,” Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps writes in the new report.

“We expect sales to double in 2010, bringing cumulative sales of eReaders to 10 million by year-end 2010,” she continues. “If the category expands beyond E Ink-based displays in a substantial way, 2010 sales can easily surpass this projection.” Forrester estimates that Amazon will account for 60 percent of the e-reader market share, followed by Sony (s sne), with 35 percent, while other device makers like Foxit, Interead and IREX will account for approximately 5 percent of U.S. e-reader sales.

The new international version of the device is going to use AT&T’s (s T) 3G network, which utilizes the more popular GSM-based technologies. So far, Sprint (s S) has been the connectivity provider to Amazon’s WhisperNet and the company will continue to use Sprint for its U.S.-only edition of Kindle. There is a battle brewing between the carriers when it comes to providing communications for machine-to-machine networks. (Related Post: Amazon Kindles Good for Telcos, Bad for ARPU.)

Subscribe to GigaOM Pro for $79 a year, get this report.

I bet Amazon is going to see a big bump in the number of books downloaded over Kindle as a result of this global edition. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tells the New York Times that when both physical and digital copies of book became available, Kindle took in 48 percent of total book sales vs. 35 percent last May. “This has grown much faster than any of us ever anticipated,” Bezos told the Times. Amazon, it seems, is Netflixing (s nflx) its rival, Barnes & Noble (s bks). (Related reports from GigaOM Pro: Evolution of the e-Book Market & How Barnes & Noble Can Avoid Getting Netflixed.)

When I was in New York recently, I met with many large media houses, and they have all embraced the Kindle. In fact, e-books/e-readers are being viewed as a panacea for the beleaguered publishing business. As more content becomes available, the utility of e-readers is only going to increase. But as we have said in the past, standalone e-readers are a bridge to newfangled, all-purpose Internet devices that will do everything.

I can wait and give my mom one of those new super devices. Or I can bring her a Kindle the next time I go to see her in New Delhi!

13 Responses to “Hey Mom, Even You Can Get a Kindle”

  1. Do you see a convergence / competition path between Kindles and other e-readers, and netbooks?

    I’d like to have a Kindle kind of reading comfort on my writing device. Or if the Kindle, or another dedicated e-reader, had had a keyboard and supported browsing and writing, I’d have bought a Kindle instead of a netbook, for some upcoming writing.

    Netbooks could decimate dedicated e-readers if an e-reader app with spectacular rendering is developed (hello, Google?!) in parallel with a robust reverse hinge assembly, and the trend for lighter weights continues. A tablet-like or Apple-touch-device-like touch screen would be super for page turning, too.

  2. This comment, “The new international version of the device is going to use AT&T’s 3G network”, doesn’t make any sense. How can it use AT&T when the devices aren’t even in the US!?. Don’t you just mean that it will be using UMTS/GSM.

    Also from what I have read today, in some countries the wireless option is not even available.

    • Actually, I found the answer to my own question. I guess you meant “using AT&T” to actually mean they are using the existing roaming agreements that AT&T has.

      But that still doesn’t explain the gaps in the wireless support. I know, for example, both the main mobile operators in Finland have roaming agreements with AT&T, but there is no wireless support for the Kindle here. The table posted by “Blog Kindle” was quite interesting in this regard.

  3. Andy O.

    Don’t want to be perceived as an Apple fanboy, but I am definitely waiting to see where these devices (from Apple and others) go before biting the bullet.

    The price needs to come down, and the publishers/authors need to get their acts together. I had the big Kindle for a day, thought it looked great, but couldn’t justify the cost (tried to get my employer to pay for it, but it didn’t work).

  4. Anthony

    Meanwhile I go to the library and get books for free, as well as borrow and share books and magazines with family and friends.

    I still don’t understand why people will PAY for every book they read.

  5. this price drop seems to make the DX’s high price even more glaring. i wonder if they’ll drop it soon… i really need the PDF support for my O’Reilly books b/c their monospace & bold fonts in native books are pretty weak….

  6. If Kindle is going to be available in “100 countries”, would it mean that the ENTIRE Kindle library would be available to the residents of these countries? Is there any information available of this?