I wonder about the Kindle

A picture named kindle.jpgIn the background of all the hype about the iPad is the question about the future of Amazon’s Kindle. But I wonder how much Amazon really cares about it.

A few thoughts.

1. I own a Kindle, but I have no idea where it is. I’ve read a few books on it, marveled at my ability to carry a small library with me as I traveled, and then reverted to carrying a book. But I expect at some point someone will make a device that works better and I will stop carrying physical books. Maybe. But I still go to the movies, even though I can watch movies on my netbook. Who knows. Regardless, sorry, but I don’t like the Kindle enough to travel with it.

2. Isn’t Amazon making their money selling books? The Kindle sure looks like a loss-leader to me.

3. Doesn’t Amazon’s software run on the iPhone? Doesn’t it seem likely that they will port it to the iPad? I don’t doubt that Amazon would choose to not sacrifice their healthy business selling books to protect their healthy business selling hardware, but what about Apple? Given that Apple has rejected podcatchers because they conflict with functionality built into the iPhone — maybe Apple won’t be so open-minded about Amazon porting their software to iPad? Maybe they want to be the exclusive distributor of books for the iPad?

4. Amazon is a funny company too — their EC2 and S3 businesses must generate a lot of money and don’t seem to have anything with being a store. So maybe Amazon has a reason to want to be in the Kindle business? With Amazon there’s always a bit of mystery as to why they’re doing what they do.

It’s just not as simple as some of the analysts seem to think.

But I wouldn’t bet against Amazon coming up with a new Kindle that’s competitive with Apple’s iPad. And I wouldn’t bet against Apple being a major bottleneck and trying to keep competitors like Amazon off their platform.

PS: I continue to hold Apple stock, the only tech company I am currently invested in. As I hope you can see, it does not in any way color my analysis. Probably should buy some Amazon too. I think both companies are great investments, even if I don’t always like what they do to the ecosystem. smile




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