I wanted to do a little thought exercise around Kindle 2, Amazon, and Zig Ziglar’s quote -
You can get Whatever You Desire if you get enough other people What They Desire.
Let’s take a look at all the stakeholders in the Kindle Ecosystem that Amazon is building -
Obviously. Amazon has made a significant investment into the Kindle and its beginning to pay off. The biggest risk for Amazon at this point is for a competitor to come in with a better offering and capture this emerging market that Amazon basically created.
I really feel the biggest challenge for Amazon is keeping their customers and other stakeholders happy. As we go through the other stakeholders, I’ll talk about what I see their stake as and their importance to Amazon and to the eco-system.
Readers AKA End Users
Users are obviously the most important part and they’re looking for quite a few things -
- Great selection of books at bang for the buck prices.
- Other great content, and again at great value.
- A very convenient device and a very covenient experience – easy purchases, great reading experience, good usability, etc.
- Freedom and Flexibility.
- Many more things.
The way Amazon is building out the Kindle ecosystem it’s a precarious balance between getting customers what they want and also keeping the walled garden safe. The walled garden is going to become tougher and tougher to guard as time goes on.
The biggest imminent challenge I see is the $9.99 pricing issue. I’m not sure how Amazon intends to keep publishers from shooting thmselves in the foot by raising prices – however, it better do it fast. I’ve been amazed at the number of comments in regards to pricing and at how angry people are, and I feel justifiably so. Publishers’ big excuse about cost of converting to different formats is a bunch of nonsense.
As I see it – publishers are looking for a bailout plan. They really are 10-15 years behind technology and are scrambling for something that buys them time – perhaps even a lot of time. They are in some ways seeing Amazon as an uninvited guest and trying to figure out how best to work with Amazon. Look for them to do stupider and stupider things as Kindle 2 and Kindle Mobile become more and more successful.
I really don’t have any sympathy with publishers who don’t see the opportunities – guys, this isn’t a free internet model. You’re getting paid for your books. You are self-sabotaging by trying to raise prices. You really need to figure out the long term implications of not supporting lower priced ebooks and of killing the only books related market segment that is seeing healthy growth.
Authors for the most part like the changes – they are still figuring out how best to use the Kindle and the accompanying opportunities. Some better than others. I feel that Amazon isn’t really doing much for authers at this point – the DTP and 35% profits is great. However, there needs to be an end to end solution.
This is one of the biggest opportunities I see – providing services to authors. There are in fact several different opportunities and no one has a market lead in any of them. In fact some potential opportunities don’t even have anyone serving them.
Newspapers and Magazines
Newspapers and Magazines get a new distribution channel – and one that makes them money. Its amazing to me to see how few newspapers and magazines have taken the jump so far. I think Amazon has done a pretty good job here, and that its not exactly their fault that this segment hasn’t quite taken off. The product currently available from newspapers isn’t up to par.
The biggest challenge for newspapers is to look at their distribution costs with the new model, contrast it with their prior distribution etc. costs, and then, if it makes sense, figure out a way to spread the new model as much as they can.
A huge opportunity I see here is for entirely new newspapers born of a completely different mindset. You’d literally need just 3-4 good bloggers and 1-2 editors to come up with a very high quality online newspaper. I may very well be wrong – However, I see it as an idea worth testing out. I’ve been thinking about it myself and I wonder what it would feel like to run a super efficient, super small newspaper.
I’m torn here – I haven’t submitted my blog because I don’t like the idea of asking people to pay. However, there is a very strong future here. I’d actually prefer this avenue over paid advertising. I think bloggers are well served. Subscriptions are a much better way of earning revenue than things like advertisements and asking for beer money and donations. Down the line, once Kindle Mobile takes off, a lot of bloggers are going to be happy they went with Amazon.
Kindle Specific Sites + Bloggers.
I’m obviously biased – however, I feel that blogs and sites focused on the Kindle provide services to Kindle owners that Amazon either currently does not (full blown out forums, socializing) or simply cannot (a different perspective on the Kindle). Blogs in general are also critical to Amazon to get the word out and capture people’s imaginations. Online – people trust their favourite blogs more than newspapers and other sources.
Amazon has a good associate program to reward sites and it works for the most part. I might have an update on that soon.
What I’m pretty unhappy about is Joe Wikert leaving Kindleville – it was a blog I checked regularly and him losing interest in the Kindle doesn’t bode well at all. I have a mental picture of what I consider the top 3-4 blogs and how they help enrich the ecosystem, and seriously – if they all stopped blogging about the Kindle, I might too.
I’m sure Amazon has thought about the whole Kindle EcoSystem much more than I have. However, I feel there are two categories of stake holders Amazon is missing -
- Developers that would jump in if an App Platform were to be created.
- Companies that would participate in providing services if there were a better support system and infrastructure for authors and for marketing various types of content.
It’s simply amazing to me that it’s been over a year and there is no site or Amazon store for self published authors, that there isn’t yet a big company focused solely on authors, that no website has become a very popular Kindle related site (I mean >100K users). Perhaps we’re just a few months away from all of these.
Amazon has a big advantage with WhisperNet and WhisperSync – if they can supplement that with a strong EcoSystem where the stakeholders are fully vested and well rewarded, they would be very well prepared for the Kindle 2 Vs Apple iBookReader, Kindle Store Vs Google Books, and Kindle 3 Vs Plastic Logic wars to come.
Filed under: thoughts | Tagged: kindle, kindle ecosystem | 2 Comments »