Kindle Christmas? Review of Kindle’s Chances

Is it going to be a Kindle Christmas? The international Kindle release and the Kindle 2 price drop mean Amazon is serious about having the Kindle dominate this Christmas and Holiday Shopping Season.

Let’s start with a free kindle christmas book as the Kindle Store is already in festive spirits – The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson. It’s a feel good Christmas story and its rated 4.5 stars.

Will this Christmas Season be as good as Analysts are predicting? Will Kindle and Sony sell a lot this Christmas?

We’ve already looked at Sarah Epps of Forrester who’s changed her prediction from 2 million eReaders sold in 2009 to 3 million.

The Financial Post combines that prediction with a Retrevo survey (of 760 people) to write a post on the coming ebook boom -

 one in four men and one in six women intend to buy an ereader before the end of 2009.

The article ends with a great quote from Sriram Peruvemba of eInk -

E-Readers may seem like a small opportunity from a consumer electronics standpoint. But replacing books, replacing newspapers … if you get even a percentage of that, it’s huge.

While combining an analyst prediction with a 760 person survey is not the most reliable way to gauge the future there’s little doubt that this Christmas Kindle (and eReaders in general) are going to be a hit.

  1. Lower Prices – $149 refurbished Kindle 1, $199 Sony Pocket Edition, $219 Refurbished Kindle 2, $259 Kindle US
  2. More Awareness – There are somewhere between 1 million and 2 million Kindle owners in the US walking around getting people interested. Perhaps half a million to a million Sony Readers (half of them in the US perhaps).  
  3. Lots and lots of stores (BestBuy, WalMart, etc.) are going to have Sony Readers and people get to see what an eReader is and how good eInk is for the eyes and how simple to use they are. By the way, those people are definitely going to compare in-store eReaders with the Kindle i.e. do research online before buying.
  4. Lots of new devices – iRex, the rumored B&N and Plastic Logic eReader, the new Sony Readers. All the marketing these companies do and the coverage they get translates to more interest in eReaders.

All of this bring us to one big question – the title of this post.  

Will it be a Kindle Christmas?

Let’s look at 5 important aspects -

What eReader has the most buzz?

This is easy – it’s always Apple that gets the most buzz. If they release their iTablet/iReader they win this easily.

However, if they don’t, it’s the Kindle that will have the most buzz. We might even see Oprah Kindle Part 2 at the end of October (or something similar).

It’d be interesting to find out if Mr. Bezos and/or Amazon could get a Obama Kindle appearance (or perhaps even an endorsement).

One additional factor – When any product in a niche is advertised, the leader in the niche benefits the most. All that eReader marketing and publicity helps Kindle simply by virtue of it being the market leader.

Which eReader provides the best Reading Experience?

My Kindle 2 Review covers this in detail – However, the Kindle has the best reading experience.

Lets set aside whether your eReader can cook you coffee. The core function is reading – How good is the screen? How intuitive is the device? How well does the device disappear into the background? How well does the device let you focus on reading?

The Kindle beats every other eReader handily. Amazon are so focused on getting us to focus on reading, they won’t even let us have Folders (if you think about it, time spent organizing books is time spent not reading).

Which eReader or eBook Store has the most books and makes it easiest to get books?

It’s definitely going to be a Kindle Christmas if range of new books is what we look at.

  1. Amazon has 350K+ books. Even if you factor out the 50K or so of those which are public domain, independent, etc. we are still left with 300K books.
  2. The closest current competitor is Sony with just 100K new books.
  3. If B&N get their Plastic Logic Reader out before Christmas they might have something close – However, Kindle will still have the most books.

Most importantly – on the Kindle you can get every book in 60 seconds.

Sony won’t have wireless downloads until December and then only on their $399 Daily Edition. Meanwhile you get free wireless downloads even on refurbished $149 Kindle 1s.

What eReader is the best value for money?

This is a loaded question.

If you factor in book prices, the Kindle wins by a huge margin. $9.99 Kindle Edition books means any one who buys a lot of books is definitely going to prefer a Kindle this Christmas.

If you’re looking just at the device, and will live off of public domain books – its close. The prices of eReaders are going to change before Christmas and who knows where Sony, iRex, B&N, and the Kindle will stand.

What eReader has one or more killer features?

This depends on what you consider a killer feature -

  1. Wireless Book Downloads and WhisperSync (syncing across devices) – Kindle. 
  2. Touch – Sony Touch Edition (although it does mess up readability).
  3. MultiPurpose Capability – Apple iReader/iTablet if it’s out. iPhone if you can read on the tiny LCD screen.
  4. iPhone App that syncs with your eReader – Kindle.
  5. Read To Me Text to speech feature – Kindle (although it is sometimes turned off by Publishers). 
  6. Unbreakable screen – Plastic Logic and B&N eReader (if it’s out on Oct 20th).
  7. Large Screen Size – Plastic Logic and Kindle DX.

Will it be a Kindle Christmas? When you consider that most of the ‘killer features’ point to the Kindle, it might very well be.

My Thoughts – Yes, it will be a Kindle Christmas.

Unless Apple crashes the party at the last minute, Amazon and the Kindle are set to dominate Christmas Season.

All the Kindle Killers aren’t focused on the core things that people want in an ereader i.e.

  1. A great reading experience. 
  2. Lots of books available.  
  3. Very, very simple and disappears.

People who read aren’t looking for a fancy gadget that can do 27 different things. There’s an iPhone for that.

We just want something that’s a good replacement for books – and that would be the Kindle.

Kindle Christmas – but which Kindle?

Here’s the twist in the tale – our good old Kindle is getting competition from an unlikely source – the Kindle US & International version.

It certainly seems that Amazon is focused on selling Kindle US & Wireless (at the cost of the Kindle 2 US) -

  1. The main page of Amazon either lists an ad showing the International Kindle (Kindle US & International Wireless) and Kindle US side by side or only the Kindle US & International version.
  2. While the Kindle US & International Wireless gets a box and an image on the Kindle US product page, the Kindle US only gets a single line in return.
  3. On Amazon’s Kindle links – the Kindle US & International Wireless is first.

Could Amazon phase out the Kindle 2? Is the $40 price drop a way of clearing out stock?

  1. For just $20 more it’s quite a huge value proposition to be able to travel worldwide with the Kindle.
  2. Seriously – Is $20 worth giving up on International WhisperNet (even if it is rather costly with the $1.99 per book download charge)?

Kindle US may be on its way out – perhaps by Christmas we only have one 6″ Kindle. Perhaps we still have both.

What do you think – Kindle US or Kindle International or Both – Which combination makes a Kindle Christmas most likely?

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