Two timely e-book/Kindle related articles in this week’s Economist – the final paragraph of the first:
Amazon clearly has designs on this market with the Kindle, even though it is primarily intended for reading e-books. But Apple is arguably in a much stronger position. There are already millions of iPhones and touch-screen iPods in circulation, and the company has long been rumoured to be working on a larger “tablet” device. Selling e-books and newspapers via iTunes, which already has millions of paying customers, would be simple. True, Steve Jobs, Apple’s mercurial boss, has expressed scepticism about e-readers, claiming that “people don’t read any more”. But Mr Jobs has a record of insisting that Apple is not interested in making a particular product (a video iPod, a mobile phone)—right up until the moment when he unveils one. Might e-books soon be the next example?
The second article, “Well Read”, includes:
Newspapers and magazines are on the same trajectory. Their paper editions are in decline in most of the developed world, as readers opt for the web versions on their computers and laptops, or on smart-phones such as the iPhone. The Kindle could accelerate that shift since it also lets users subscribe to news publications, which are automatically delivered.
All this has led to a new phrase in the book and newspaper industries: Is this the “iPod moment”? It is a layered and loaded analogy. On the one hand the iPod, Apple’s now legendary music-player, and its associated iTunes store opened up a new market for legal digital-music downloads. On the other hand, the iPod accelerated the decline in CD sales and shifted power from record labels to Apple. Will the Kindle similarly put Amazon in a dominant position, while weakening publishers?