Amazon seems to have really taken the platform approach to heart. The latest move towards making the Kindle platform dominate every possible reading channel is Amazon’s partnership with Asus – starting today select Asus laptops and netbooks will come preloaded with Kindle for PC.
Gizmodo report on the Asus-Amazon Kindle tie-up and even like it –
Frankly, we’re not the biggest fans of pre-installed software cluttering up fresh screens, but this sort of partnership surely makes sense with certain devices — in particular, convertible tablets that you’d use to read.
You know what would also make sense? ASUS preloading some sort of Amazon application on its Eee Pad.
Asus sells millions of netbooks and millions of laptops and if the partnership goes well we might see Kindle for PC pre-installed on all of them.
What does Asus get out of this?
Companies usually pay good money to get pre-installed on machines. Some examples include –
- Anti-virus companies paying $40 to $50 per Anti-Virus subscription purchased (after the free trial).
- Toolbar companies paying $1 or more per toolbar install.
- Companies paying extra to get featured – For example via a page during the Install Process or via an icon on the Desktop.
Amazon are probably paying one of –
- 25 cents to $1 per laptop on which Kindle for PC goes out.
- $5 to $10 per Kindle for PC install on which user buys a book.
In addition to this nice bonus from Amazon Asus need to have Kindle for PC on their soon-to-be launched Eee Pad tablet. There are a non-trivial number of people buying the iPad for its reading abilities and most of that stems from Kindle for iPad. If the Eee Pad comes with Kindle for PC in-built, and perhaps even some bonuses, Asus balance out that iPad advantage.
Asus and Amazon’s take on the deal
The Press Release (at the Gizmodo link) has the usual Mutual Admiration Society membership pledge –
Kindle is something our customers have been asking for and by p copre-installing Kindle for PC on select long battery life products, we believe we are providing our customers an even richer PC experience.
Actually, Amazon don’t really praise Asus in the Press Release which is rather surprising. You’d think they’d mention that Asus started the whole netbook threat and scared the living daylights out of every laptop manufacturer in the world. The reason why every laptop company is now selling $1000 laptops in the $500 to $700 range.
The Asus models that will include Kindle for PC are –
- Asus Seashell Netbook 1005PE-U27 in Black, White, and 2 other colors. This retails for $372 and promises up to 14 hours of battery life.
- Asus ultra thin and light notebooks – Asus UL-30A-X5K and Asus UL30VT-X1K. The first retails for $649 and has up to 12 hours of battery life and a 13.3″ HD display. The second is $749 and includes a NVidia G210M graphics card with 512 MB graphics memory.
Asus and Amazon say that there will be more laptops and netbooks added to the list.
What impact could this have on Amazon?
There’s actually a huge difference in the use of software that is pre-installed and software that has to be downloaded separately. Anti-Virus companies are not stupid to be paying manufacturers like HP $50 per activation.
The power of the default dictates that people usually choose the default option. If Kindle for PC is the default ebook reading software on Asus computers then Asus laptop/netbook owners who want to read an ebook get to choose between two options –
- Spend 10 minutes to find a good reading software, another 5 minutes to install it, and if everything goes according to plan they have an eReader software on their PC. It’s a lot of time and uncertainty and making decisions and quite a bit of effort.
- Start off Kindle for PC and start reading in 15 seconds.
It doesn’t matter how much prettier another ebook reading software is or how well animated the page turns are – 15 seconds is going to beat 15 minutes every single time.
What moves might the Amazon-Asus deal trigger?
Well, actually this is a reactive move and not exactly a proactive one.
- Sony and Google have been in bed so long they’re beginning to find each other’s lovable quirks annoying. Google supplies Sony with free books. Sony promises laptops with Google Chrome. Google Editions is definitely going to be on Sony laptops.
- HP and Barnes & Noble signed up a deal where B&N now have a store on the HP site and it wouldn’t be a surprise if HP computers soon came pre-installed with B&N eReader software.
- Apple obviously has its various offerings which it can use to promote iBooks. iPhone actually gets iBooks very soon – in iPhone OS 4.0. Mac may get it soon after that.
What this move will do is get all these partnerships and Apple to move faster on their plans.
Is PC reading of ebooks finally becoming important?
It certainly seems so. There are a few very good reasons for ebook companies to take note of the PC –
- eReader software for the PC is the gateway drug to the eReader+eBook eco-system. Whether a user buys their first ebook to read on Kindle for PC or on B&N eReader is likely to determine whether that user buys a Kindle or Nook.
- Every ebook sale is an ebook sale.
- Apple’s arrival means soon Macs will come with iBooks preloaded making it imperative for Kindle and Nook to make inroads into PCs and offset that Apple advantage.
- Google’s arrival in ebooks will mean Google diverts as much book related traffic as they can to Google Editions.
- It’s possible that Kindle for PC is seeing lots of usage and Amazon wants to build on that.
Basically, the first eReading software that captures a reader has the best chance of locking that reader into its ecosystem and capturing all of that reader’s book purchases for the rest of her/his life.
It might seem like dramatization – However, the power of the default and early mover advantage are hard to overcome. Take even the biggest companies – Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple. The areas they’ve struck an early lead in and dominated are mostly out of reach for everyone else (including other behemoths).
It’s becoming clearer and clearer that the War is on and that it’s for the entire future of Publishing and Books.