Archive for the ‘books’ category

Amazon Not Afraid to Play with Fire

April 27th, 2009

Amazon recently announced financial results that virtually any company would die for, and it’s hardly a surprise. This is a company that possesses not only a crystal clear vision but an exceptional ability to execute. But for all the well-deserved praise they’ve received over the years for being the world’s most innovative online retailer, I don’t think they’re receiving all the praise they deserve for their bold launch of the highly innovative Kindle and Kindle 2 wireless reading devices.

I don’t own a Kindle (yet), and I realize that it has its critics, but I also know a lot of people who are head-over-heels in love with their Kindle. One of the most impressive aspects of the Kindle story is the fact that Amazon didn’t wait until the products were perfect before launching them. Rather, they gave it their best shot, introduced it to the market, listened to user feedback, and acted on it. As a result, the Kindle 2 represents dramatic advances over its predecessor, and I have no doubt that the same will be true of the Kindle 3.

It takes a lot of audacity to launch a product as technologically challenging as a wireless reading device, especially when you make a good part of your living selling paper-based books. Amazon, however, clearly realized that sooner or later someone would launch such a product, and it’s far better to cannibalize yourself than to let someone else eat away at your market share. Moreover, given the deep insights Amazon has into into its customer base, I suspect that they felt the Kindle would increase overall book readership rather than merely cannibalize paper-based book sales.  And from some of the reports I’ve read, it appears that Amazon was right.

While I doubt that I would have come up with “Kindle” had I been given the naming assignment for this innovative new product (given that the name is associated primarily with igniting fires and bearing offspring), I think the name works quite well. It has a pleasant, comfortable feeling to it, and congers up images of cozying up to a warm fire with a good book. Or maybe even a good wireless reading device.