Even before the iPad was officially announced, so-called pundits and tech-prognosticators were declaring that Apple’s long-rumored tablet device would “destroy” Amazon’s Kindle. Amazon, I’m sure, doesn’t see the iPad as a challenge to the Kindle, but rather as yet another portal through which Amazon can sell products. Notice that I’m not just talking about ebooks here. The iPad, thanks to the full Safari-sans-Flash experience, will be an excellent way to browse Amazon.com and purchase all kinds of items. Just like the iPhone and iPod touch are. Even if there weren’t a browser built in, Amazon would simply do what they’ve already done with the iPhone and iPod touch and build an Amazon Store app (which is undoubtedly coming for the iPad too).
If you look at the strategic approach Amazon has taken towards these two devices, you have a pretty accurate looking glass into the future as to how Amazon will react to the iPad: Amazon will build apps for the device that will help Amazon sell more products. Amazon is not an ebook reader manufacturer. Amazon is a retailer that happens to manufacture an ebook reader. Amazon is also a company that wants a major share of the ebook market. Many people seem to regularly forget that major distinction.
Today’s Media Memo from Peter Kafka, continues the doom and gloom predictions with a slightly new twist. The article notes that Amazon is working on an iPad version of its Kindle Reader. The doom and gloom comes in the slight tinge of worry casting a shadow on the entire article that the Kindle for iPad app won’t be ready for the launch of the iPad. This is no surprise, for two reasons: First, developers don’t have iPads to test their apps on yet. Second, it’s not the way Amazon operates. Keep in mind an iPhone / iPod touch version of the Kindle has been available for a long time and Amazon also offers the Kindle software platform in Mac and PC flavors. None of these versions were ready for the launch of any of the devices on which they run and yet they are wildly popular on these platforms, something that Kafka avoids mentioning. Also, Kafka entirely ignores that the current Kindle for iPhone app should run nicely on the iPad until the native iPad version of the software arrives (with a reading experience more customized for the actual device).
Why would Amazon compete with their own Kindle device like this? Well, because Amazon doesn’t give a damn if the device is wildly successful. Rumors say Amazon is even debating giving away Kindles for free. Why? Well, to sell more books of course. That’s Amazon’s endgame strategy. Anyone who loses sight of that isn’t really paying attention to the space. And from the looks of the space, that includes most of the people writing about these things these days.
Everyone has iPad fever, because there’s lots of interest in the unreleased iPad, so there’s lots of traffic and pageviews to be had. People love drama and false fights too, so let’s phrase all our reporting as a doom and gloom battle to the finish between Amazon and Apple. That’ll garner even more traffic!
Whatever. At this rate, I think new media and old media are both doomed to fail, because the latter is following the bad patterns of the former. We need a new new media. An honest media that peers deeply into the context surrounding every story and actually reports on the truth to be discovered there.
Too bad everyone seems to think there’s no money in the truth these days and that their time is better spent prognosticating faux-controversial, fabricated nonsense.
UPDATE: Also rather telling that Amazon’s post about this is focused on Kindle for Tablet Computers (not just the iPad).
UPDATE ON APRIL 5TH Good to see that several weeks later, everyone is suddenly agreeing with me.