Want to Compete With Amazon? Slate Has Some Advice

Slate has an article about the best way to beat the Kindle in the eBook market.  Their arguments are fairly compelling.  They compare the eBook market to mp3 players, as both represented the transition from traditional media to a digital form.  In terms of eReaders, the Kindle has the role of the iPod.  Both devices broke out early in their respective markets due to a cleverly designed service and smart marketing.  Since no competitor was ever able to touch the iPod, Amazon’s competitors need to figure out where Apple’s competitors went wrong.

The article comes away with 2 main suggestions:

1. “Beat the Kindle on features, not on price.”  The iPod stayed ahead by continually reinventing itself.  An eReader that completely dwarfed the Kindle in features would have a chance.  Maybe. Except for…

2. “Service matters more than the device itself.”  The Kindle beat the Sony Reader because it had the Kindle bookstore.  Any competitor will have to beat the entire platform.

2 thoughts on “Want to Compete With Amazon? Slate Has Some Advice

  1. I can’t compare the Kindle to the iPod. It wasn’t first or necessarily the best.
    But the interface and ease of purchase made it a winner.

    But lately the complete customer service blunders (deleting books, higher that $9.99 pricing, etc) make me not even pick up my kindle.

    When a new book comes out its most likely higher than $9.99 – sometimes higher than buying the book – at least until sale and popularity of the book is realized.

    The fact that Sony has struck a preliminary deal with a NYC library answers the call for me and EVERY person I’ve shown my kindle to (“Can I read a book from the library?”)

    I would and will switch in a heart beat.

    For the record. I’ve had 5 ipods and two iPhones yet only purchased 4 music albums from iTunes. I buy everything at Amazon or on CD.

    Competing with Amazon could be easy. Lets wait and see how Sony and the new ebooks at B&N work out… Not to mention the much rumored Apple tablet.

    Amazon is very far from owning this market.

  2. Sony was in the market with the Reader 500 many months before the introduction of the Kindle. I tried to see a sample, supposedly marketed by Borders, but not in my area. They were willing to sell me one sight unseen and no satisfaction guarantee. I was living near Spokane, WA at the time and the closest Borders was in Coeur d’Alene, ID. Also, I am an Apple user and the Sony didn’t support that platform. They were offering 100 bundled public domain books with the purchase, but if you were using an Apple, those were not available. I was still tempted to buy one. Then the Kindle was introduced. Apple support, or no computer required at all. Search capability, built in dictionary, a wider selection of fonts and a 30 day satisfaction guarantee caused me to order one. I got the distinct impression that Sony was not very interested in selling their product. This has happened with other Sony products as well. I think the failure of the Sony Reader over the Kindle was in marketing. They give the impression that they just don’t care.

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