It takes some doing to unseat the final Hogwarts adventure, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as Amazon’s top selling item in its history. And its own Kindle 3 e-reader was just the gadget to do it.
In what’s become tradition, Amazon is once again reporting gangbusters sales of its Kindle e-reader. This is in the wake of a holiday season that not only saw a refreshed version of the device, but also competition from Apple’s iPad. The latter had some industry watchers worried about the Kindle’s prospects.
Apple’s iPad handles a variety of multimedia, including iBooks e-books. Combined with massive sales, it looked like Kindle’s days were numbered. Following deep price cuts and an update that brought a slimmer form factor and a better screen, it looks like the Kindle’s doing just fine — despite Amazon’s reluctance to furnish concrete sales figures. According to Amazon, consumers like stand-alone e-readers with e-paper displays that sip power and make reading for hours on end a reassuringly dead tree-like experience. Even iPad owners (presumably) are digging the Kindle, it appears.
“We’re seeing that many of the people who are buying Kindles also own an LCD tablet. Customers report using their LCD tablets for games, movies, and web browsing and their Kindles for reading sessions,” states Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com’s CEO and founder.
He adds,” They report preferring Kindle for reading because it weighs less, eliminates battery anxiety with its month-long battery life, and has the advanced paper-like Pearl e-ink display that reduces eye-strain, doesn’t interfere with sleep patterns at bedtime, and works outside in direct sunlight, an important consideration especially for vacation reading. Kindle’s $139 price point is a key factor — it’s low enough that people don’t have to choose.”
He can count this writer among them. While the iPad is a fantastic device, the Kindle is better suited to reading for long stretches. And in its newest iteration, it approaches Apple-like levels of product design and construction — a far cry from its oddly proportioned first generation model.
The question is, can Amazon keep it up? Maybe…
There have been rumblings that Amazon is buddying up to Qualcomm, which pioneered the low-power, color e-paper-like Mirasol display technology that can refresh fast enough to handle video. The addition of color and a fluid screen would help the device bust out of its monochromatic shell and embrace full-color books, magazines and interactive experiences. Add touch capabilities, and who knows where things can lead.
Regardless of what the future holds, beating out Harry Potter — at its own game, in a manner of speaking — spells good news for e-books, and the forests that will be spared as a result. Now, about that lending feature…
Image credit: Amazon