Kindle Phone, Kindle TV, Kindle Watch, Kindle Fire HD 2 thoughts

Kindle Phone thoughts

  1. What will Amazon do to handle Patent claims against Kindle Phone? The most recent twist in the smart phone and tablet Patent Wars between Apple and Samsung is that some older models of AT&T iPhones are banned from being imported into the US. The ban is over 3G essential Samsung patents – not a good precedent.
  2. IDC expects smartphones to grow 32.7% this year and surpass feature phones in sales. IDC thinks lower prices and the rise of strong emerging markets. which are expected to see 45.4% growth, will lead to this huge growth in smart phones. Kindle Phone will almost certainly be low-priced. The question is – Will it be US only? OR will Amazon also target emerging markets like China and India?
  3. Interestingly, 70.9% of all smartphones sold in 2013 are expected to be 3G enabled ones. If Patent cases are being won based on 3G essential patents, then what hope do new entrants in the smart phone market have?
  4. Is there a possibility that Amazon will sell Kindle Phone at super cheap prices and then sell profitable data and voice plans? Could it possibly have struck a deal to buy bandwidth and become a wireless provider itself?
  5. It becomes more and more important for Amazon to ship Kindle Phone in 2013. Of course, it has to be a very impressive device to make any headway in the ultra-competitive smart phone market.

Kindle Phone is perhaps the one Kindle device I’m most looking forward to.

Kindle TV Musings

  1. Amazon struck a deal with Viacom today for exclusive access to a bunch of kids’ shows like SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, iCarly, and Victorious. There are 3,900 episodes of TV shows from Nick Jr, Nickelodeon, MTV, and Comedy Central included in the deal.
  2. Everyone is talking about the new Amazon-Viacom deal being dangerous to Netflix (which apparently no longer has rights for these shows). However, what if all this is meant for Kindle TV?
  3. Side Note: Netflix now plans on spending 10% of its content budget on self-produced shows. An excellent idea.
  4. Microsoft’s Xbox One is shaping up as a terrific device. It will be a real challenge for Apple TV, Kindle TV, Roku, and other devices to compete with Xbox One. The price is rumored to be $399. There is also rumored to be a cheaper option if you get a 2 year subscription to Xbox Gold.
  5. Kindle TV might be free with Amazon Prime. The more you think about it, the more it seems that Amazon is going to go for a low price like $50 or, even more likely, a ‘free’ Kindle TV with Amazon Prime.

Kindle Watch Thoughts

  1. PVI eInk, the same company that makes the eInk screen for eInk Kindles, has announced a 1.73″ screen ideally suited to making smart watches. It’ll be called Mobius. It would be suited for Kindle Watch if Amazon decides to go with eInk. However, my hope is that Amazon goes with an IGZO LCD screen instead. The eInk screen looks super unimpressive.
  2. Sonostar’s Sono smart watch is the first watch actually using this screen. Bonus points for choosing an utterly drab name to go with the black and white screen.
  3. The big benefits of using eInk for watches – readable in sunlight, low battery consumption, this is a curved eInk screen so the watches can be curved, the display can be cut into different shapes,
  4. It’s a 1.73″ eInk display with 320 by 240 pixels screen resolution and 16 greyscale levels.
  5. Initially, it seemed eInk Mobius would be a good choice for Kindle Watch. However, the combination of low screen resolution and black and white display makes for a rather drab and uninspiring watch. Really hope Amazon goes with IPS LCD or IGZO LCD screens instead. Perhaps come up with some innovative way to recharge the watch based on movement or sunlight.

While everyone is previewing devices that aren’t ready to ship, Apple and Samsung perhaps have really solid wearable computing devices almost ready to ship. Fall 2013 or Spring 2014 is when we will get to see what they have to offer.

Kindle Fire HD 2 Musings

  1. The single biggest thing Amazon could do to make Kindle Fire HD 2 sell well? Add in all the little things that don’t lead to people buying things at Amazon i.e. camera and app, video camera app, a very good email app, better support for the big social websites.
  2. What could Amazon do to make Kindle Fire HD 2 better for reading? It’s interesting that ‘Reading Tablets’ from B&N and Amazon are not really any better for reading than general tablets. There’s a lot of talk of anti-glare screens and such. However, the software and usability is where the real improvements in the reading experience can be made. No amount of anti-glare film (or mention of such) can lead to LCDs being readable in sunlight. So just focus on stuff that ACTUALLY helps.
  3. Cut down on the Marketing Overload. It works for Apple because they spend insane amounts of time polishing things. It’s not going to work for Kindle Fire HD 2 made for economy Tablet buyers. Just focus on the Actual Strengths. The one exception is comparing your $199 Tablet to Apple’s premium Tablets. Those comparisons are great because the Press are so in love with Apple they can’t resist attacking Kindle Fire HD (and thus giving it free publicity).
  4. Launch internationally, if at all possible. Amazon loses a lot of sales with every device launch by doing these massively staggered launches. Kindle Fire HD 2 for US in Fall 2013, and for rest of the world in Spring 2014, would just be bad strategy.
  5. It’d be good if Amazon focused on the core Tablet Use Cases. It’s strange how Amazon still doesn’t seem to be willing to admit that the main Tablet use cases are things like browsing, email, reading, taking photos.
  6. It would be great if Amazon didn’t do yet another iterative Kindle release and instead added some big, important things in Kindle Fire HD 2.

It’s hard to say what direction Amazon will take Kindle Fire HD 2 in. It’s dangerously close to turning the Kindle Fire HD into a stunted Tablet. Things like hiding the camera app and adding Ads as screen savers just walk in the opposite direction of ‘The Best Tablet … at any price’.

Amazon’s Advertising Secret Income Stream

  1. We’ve talked about how advertising is a promising new business for Amazon. Apparently, according to eMarketer, Amazon is set to make a massive $835 million in advertising revenue in 2013. Of course, Amazon is hard at work trying to build some extra data centers and find other capital investments – lest most of this $835 million turn into profits.

Kindle TV or Kindle Phone – Which will arrive first?

Firstly, let’s be clear that there’s zero proof whatsoever that Amazon is going to release either a Kindle TV or a Kindle Phone in 2013 or 2014 or later.

Secondly, let’s go through exactly why both a Kindle TV and a Kindle Phone are inevitable and why Amazon is almost certainly working on both.

Why a Kindle TV is inevitable

The living room is a big focus area for nearly all major technology companies –

  1. Microsoft has a bit of an early lead with all the Xboxes it has sold which double up as Netflix and Movie providing set top boxes. It has also made other efforts like Windows Media Center.
  2. Apple is rumored to be working on an Apple TV. It also has the little Apple TV thingie that can stream movies to your TV. You could even argue that the next logical step in the iPod to iPhone to iPad evolution is an iTV.
  3. Google already has partnerships with Samsung to ship Smart TVs. It is also trying lots of different things including providing Internet and TV services to one lucky city.
  4. Facebook wants to replace TV. Or so people claim. That would mean its planning on replacing the Internet, Google, the Casual Games Industry, and TV. If you want to think, you might as well think Big.
  5. Sony is using Playstation much in the way Microsoft is using Xbox. Sony went so far as to include a Blu-Ray player in the Playstation itself. That’s just a ridiculous amount of commitment to becoming the living room ‘one device to rule them all’. Sony literally risked losing the console wars to try and win the living room wars.

Those are just a few examples. There are lots of other companies that want to take over people’s living rooms and the associated revenue streams i.e. Movies, Games, TV, Internet, Phone, etc.

Amazon makes most of its revenues from sales of electronics and sales of media. Within media the big income streams are books, movies, and music CDs. Let’s consider how Amazon sees the transition to digital in each –

  1. Books – Here we have the transition to Kindle eBooks and we have Kindle and Kindle Fire as delivery channels.
  2. Music – Here Amazon hasn’t been as successful. However, you can see with the focus on Dolby Sound and High Quality Speakers in Kindle Fire that it does want to control the delivery channel here too.
  3. Movies – Here we see Kindle Fire becoming Amazon’s delivery device of choice.
  4. Electronics – Amazon here is gradually adding its own products. Kindle, Kindle Fire, branded cables and such.

Whether you look at preservation/strengthening of the Movies revenue stream, or you look at preservation/strengthening of the Electronics revenue stream, owning the Movie delivery device makes perfect sense. That’s why Kindle Fire HD comes with HDMI streaming. That’s why a Kindle TV is very, very, very likely. Hopefully they don’t name it the Kindle Volcano with Plasma Screen and Ash Black Contrast.

If Amazon can own the store, if it can own the device through which movies are streamed, and if it can own the device on which movies are played – then why not?

The Main Reason a Kindle TV is inevitable

Eventually, the device on which the service is used/utilized controls the revenue stream. Sooner or later we are going to have Smart TVs become commonplace and the ‘DEFAULT’ movie services on these Smart TVs will rule.

Amazon must understand this. It has an incredible amount of insight into what devices people buy, what movies people buy, and patterns in electronics and movie rentals. It makes perfect sense for it to leverage that to make a TV that is ideally suited for TV Shows and Movies.

More importantly, if it doesn’t make its own TV, then sooner or later Apple with iOS powered Apple TV, or Google+Samsung with Google Android powered Smart TVs, will take over the living room.

Of course, we also have the threat of Xbox and Sony Playstation.

Amazon has to move now or it might get left behind.

My Thought: Amazon has been working on Kindle TV since 2010 or 2011.

My Prediction: Kindle TV by 2014 at the latest.

Why a Kindle Phone is inevitable

First, consider what Amazon Wireless is – It’s a giant store selling wireless phones and plans.

Amazon is gathering up an incredible amount of information on what sells phones and what sells plans and user habits and trends.

This might not seem relevant to our topic i.e. Why a Kindle Phone is inevitable. However, it’s very relevant because Amazon is learning all the secrets of the industry. It’s realizing a lot of things that make a Kindle Phone seem more and more important and necessary to Amazon’s future.

Second, let’s look at why a Kindle Phone is inevitable from a ‘it’s just absolutely necessary standpoint’.

Phones and Smart Phones have taken over the world. They are reaching customers that computers never did. They are always on the person. They are the perfect device for a company that aims to sell everything to everyone.

However, each phone platform comes with its own ecosystems. Some ecosystems are completely closed off. Some ecosystems ask for a 30% tax. Some ecosystems have defaults from rivals.

That means that Amazon is at other people’s mercy. That’s not a very good position to be in because those people tend to suck out all the profits.

Amazon’s only choice is to make its own ecosystem. That is why Kindle Fire isn’t ‘open’ and doesn’t use ‘open and free Android’.

That (the need for an ecosystem it can control) is why a Kindle Phone is inevitable and imminent. We’re creating a world where phones are ever present in our lives and everything is shifting to mobile. Amazon’s survival as an ecommerce giant depends on adjusting and adapting to this world. Its own phone is absolutely critical. It can’t keep giving its profits to the phone ecosystem owners.

My Thought: Amazon has been planning out and working on a Kindle Phone since the day iPhone came out i.e. 2007.

My Prediction: Kindle Phone out by 2013.

Why Kindle TV in 2014 is not a Fantasy

  1. If Android powered Samsung TVs or the next Xbox or the next Playstation or Apple’s iTV take over living rooms then Amazon will be unable to sell digital content to those users. With digital media all the infrastructure advantages Amazon has (warehouses, logistics, distribution) just disappear. Everyone has their own Cloud.
  2. The success of the Kindle must have gotten Amazon started on other products. There are only so many directions – Tablets, Phones, TVs, Computers. Tablets we’ve already seen in the form of Kindle Fire. Phones we might see soon in the form of Kindle Phone. TVs make a LOT of sense.
  3. Kindle TV becomes the delivery channel for everything – shopping services, movies, TV shows, games, surfing the Internet. It slots in perfectly with Kindle and Kindle Fire and Kindle Phone.

Why Kindle Phone in 2013 is not a Fantasy

  1. Amazon is probably tired of being one app out of a million in other ecosystems. Of seeing B&N and Apple and Google sell books and movies that Amazon could be selling. With its Kindle Phone and with its own ecosystem Amazon could take 100% of book sales and movie sales and music sales on its devices.
  2. Amazon Wireless is a great experiment – to collect all the data Amazon could need to sell its own phones. Perhaps even to sell its own data services.
  3. Kindle Phone allows Amazon to get more people into its ecosystem. It leads to more Kindle Fire and Kindle sales. It leads to more Amazon sales.
  4. A Kindle Phone is a 24-7 shopping device in users’ hands.
  5. Amazon can control the entire experience with Kindle Phone and get an incredible amount of information – what stores users go into before buying from Amazon, what stores users buy from after browsing at Amazon, buying patterns, data usage patterns, browsing information. It can use a Kindle Phone to even mount assaults on Google’s Search and Apple’s iTunes. If you control the device and the ecosystem you can subtly shift ALL the profit to yourself.

Fundamentally, Kindle Phone and Kindle TV are Amazon’s future. Without them Amazon is at the mercy of Apple and Google – neither of which are dying to see Amazon thrive. With Kindle Phone and Kindle TV Amazon gets two big huge pieces to add to Kindle Fire and Kindle and it becomes much, much stronger.