Step aside Harry Potter; after just five months of availability, Amazon’s newest Kindle reader just ousted you as the best-selling product in the company’s history. Amazon is touting the record sales of its Kindle device today, which speaks both to the growing popularity of ebooks as well as the $139 price point for a Wi-Fi version of the Kindle. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Amazon news is that there’s room for both dedicated e-book devices and multi-purpose tablets.
In today’s press release announcing the record sales, I noticed this tidbit buried in a quote from Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos:
We’re seeing that many of the people who are buying Kindles also own an LCD tablet. Customers report using their LCD tablets for games, movies, and web browsing and their Kindles for reading sessions.
Since Kindle is both a device and a platform, Amazon can see when a customer owns both a Kindle and a tablet, or other handheld, because the company wisely built a Kindle app for multiple platforms: PC, Mac, BlackBerry, Android and iOS, while a version for Windows Phone 7 is coming soon. One Amazon account used on both a Kindle and a tablet, for example, tells Amazon that this particular person owns both types of devices. It’s likely someone who owns both uses one Amazon account, enabling e-book content to be purchased once and read on both devices. Amazon’s Whispersync, which is also tied to the Amazon account, helps keep track of a reader’s place on multiple devices as well.
This “buy once, read anywhere” and bookmark syncing approach is enabling Amazon to succeed in both the e-book market through Kindle hardware and in the tablet / handheld markets through software. That’s a huge advantage over Apple’s iBook model, because e-book content purchased from Apple can only be read on Apple devices, thus limiting the appeal of iBooks. Although I sold my Kindle just days after purchasing an iPad back in April, I have yet to buy any content from Apple’s iBooks store for this very reason. Why would I want to limit my choices of where to read a book?
Even though I no longer have Kindle hardware, Amazon still has me as a Kindle customer, getting every one of my e-book content purchases. I often buy two or three e-books per week from Amazon, so I doubt they mind that I sold my Kindle device. The best part? Priced at $139, it wouldn’t hit my budget too hard if I snapped up a new Kindle for the eInk experience. As Jeff Bezos has noted, for many people, there’s room for a dedicated Kindle even if people already own an LCD tablet! Of course, as pointed out by this Penny Arcade bit from last year, some folks might even want a paper book in this digital age. How else can Harry Potter expect to compete when he hasn’t been magically digitized just yet?
Related GigaOM Pro Research (sub req’d):