Amazon (s AMZN) has announced a new Kindle that most bloggers are calling Kindle 3. The new device seems pretty awesome, both in features and price. It’s important that we declare both devices as winners in their own right and set some things straight for anyone calling iPad (s AAPL) a Kindle killer or the other way around.
Kindle as a service
Kindle is a service that allows consumers to buy books from anywhere in the world as long as there is an Internet connection. Books can be purchased via any device with a modern web browser and you can read those books on any device that supports Kindle software like your Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, Android and Amazon’s own Kindle hardware.
[inline-ad align=”right”]Amazon’s strategy is different from Apple’s. Apple developed the iTunes Store as a service to drive the sales of its hardware. Kindle software and hardware was created to drive the sale of books and other downloadable content. Kindle is huge for Amazon because going digital isn’t just convenient to the consumer. It’s great for Amazon because it doesn’t have to keep a stock of books and worry about paying to ship those books and the consumer wins by having that book accessible across multiple devices instantly. All Amazon has to do is ensure its selection of books is higher and its price is lower than the competition.
Kindle and iPad finally coexisting
Until today’s announcement, Kindle as a device was scrutinized against the Apple iPad, because while you could read books on both, the iPad was only $150 more than the smaller Kindle and a few bucks more than the larger Kindle DX.
Amazon aggressively slashed prices on the device in a way that made everyone think they were just being defensive and fearful of iPad but today, that all changed.
Kindle 3 is priced at $139 (Wi-Fi only) and an International version with 3G is only $189 (3G via GSM). TechCrunch Reports:
In addition to the price and screen change, the redesigned body is 21% smaller and 15% lighter, down to about 8.5oz. If their press release is to be believed, it’s also got twice the storage (4GB) and significantly improved battery life over the old Kindle.
Kindle is priced so aggressively that true book lovers can buy the new Kindle at a price that’s simply a no brainer considering that Kindle books cost considerably less than real books and you’re saving on shipping and the pesky 3-7 days it takes for a book to arrive at your door. No longer is there a decision to make between buying a Kindle device or simply paying $150 more and having an iPad that does books and so much more.
Amazon is finally showing the industry that it doesn’t want to make millions selling Kindles. It’s about the sale of digital books.
Apple and Amazon are both winners
When you’re just talking hardware, Apple will continue to sell millions of iPads to people who want books, games, movies, apps and the web and the Kindle will continue to sell in the millions for book lovers. This is a huge win for consumers because our decision is made for us and bloggers can stop comparing both devices like they’re the same. I’ll be buying a Kindle for my sister who reads books every day and an Amazon gift card so she can buy a few books to get started. It’s a much easier gift than paying $499 for an iPad that she’ll mostly be using for books, anyway.
So who are the losers?
Basically, everyone that’s not Apple or Amazon. For now and the foreseeable future, Amazon has done a phenomenal job getting Kindle on millions of computers, phones and other handheld devices. Its goal of selling books by the truck load is working well as it just announced Kindle books are now outselling physical books after only three years. The losers are Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Sony’s E-Reader, and any other devices that don’t either work with Amazon or have their own book store. B&N has a fighting chance but Amazon’s user base of passionate book buyers will stay true to Amazon and Apple has over 100 million accounts with credit cards who will dive right in to iBooks. Sorry, but it’s clear who the winners are in the digital book sales space.
What about iBooks?
Amazon and Apple may not be competing when it comes to Kindle hardware versus iPad but they’re still competing in the book sales space. I’ve been meaning to write this for a while but I won’t buy a book via iBooks outside of the free section. The reason is that Apple hasn’t convinced me that my digital DRMed books are safe with them. In the same way that my iTunes movies and music (prior to iTunes Plus) are not playable on other hardware other than Apple’s. Amazon has displayed the right strategy that any device or platform that comes out in the future will eventually get Kindle software and those digital books I bought in 2007 will sync to that device without fail and Amazon is a large company that I trust. iBooks may win me over eventually but for price, selection and compatibility, Kindle (the service) has me hooked.
Kindle versus iPad is a dead argument. You’re both winners. No one is arguing the iPad isn’t better hardware for much more than books but that comes at a price and, even on the iPad, Kindle is just one tap away via its own app.
Related GigaOM Pro Content (subscription required): Evolution of the e-Book Market