Amazon Revs Up Its Digital Bad Self

Buried in this New York Times article on the digital-ness of is a word or two about Kindle and a little prognostication about growth of the digital market:

The Kindle electronic book reader, now four months old, is another primary cog in Amazon’s digital strategy. Sales across the book publishing industry are flat; e-books represent one possible future. But the first priority for Amazon is actually getting the device into people’s hands. The company has experienced constant shortages since the Kindle went on sale in December.

“We obviously want to get it fully in stock as quickly as possible,” said Mr. Freed, vice president in charge of the Kindle.

Mr. Freed said that the Kindle was first and foremost a reading device, but that it could also serve as a platform for at least some of Amazon’s other digital offerings. The device can play MP3 files and audio books from Audible, the online audio book retailer that Amazon bought last month for $300 million.

In general, Amazon’s digital team expresses urgency but does not appear to be in a rush. Mr. Kessel noted that it took the company five to seven years to build many of its businesses — books, consumer electronics — to maturity. He expects digital offerings to follow the same path.

A few observations – I find it difficult to believe that Amazon will try to position Kindle as a multi-use device. Most people will use an iPod to listen to an audio book rather than tote around a device that’s easily three times that size. And while they didn’t mention the Kindle as “movie” ready, I’d hardly be convinced that Amazon wants to meet Apple head-on in this market. The future of the downloadable movie is the flat screen television in the living room, not another portable device.

The best thing Amazon can do is continue is find customers for Kindle. To do that, they must refine the hardware. Make it smarter, sexier, and more robust. Oh, and bring the price down too.

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Amazon, Digital Publishing, eBooks, Kindle

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