What did Amazon want to achieve with the Kindle Reader? Did it want to own the e-reader space? I would wager that it doesn’t care about e-readers, so long as they can access Amazon distributed ebooks.
Amazon’s goal was to sell electronic books. In November 2007 when the first Kindle was launched, there were very few devices available for reading electronic books and none had a great market share.
Hence the solution for Amazon was to create its own e-reader that would create enough market share. However since 2007, the number of devices that are capable e-readers have exploded. The iPhone, iPod Touch, Android Phones, not to mention the iPad have all provided an excellent platform for consuming e-books.
Amazon made the sensible decision to create a platform for its Kindle service, so you can read ebooks on whichever device you own, be that a Kindle e-reader or an iPad. So when you’re buying an ebook, you know if you buy on Kindle, it will always be available to you. Is that the case for some of the competitors?
Both the Nook and Kobo have the backing of Barnes and Noble and Indigo/Chapters respectively, but one has to question their longevity. Would you want to build an ebook collection with a provider that may not be around in five years?
Given the pace of technological change, and the vast array of new tablet devices that will be hitting the market, it’s hard to see how the Kindle e-reader will survive. Devices such as the iPad beg for a more colourful and interactive experience, and the Kindle’s technology just doesn’t seem ready to provide that anytime soon.
However this won’t matter, Kindle is already installed on iPad users’ machines and Amazon can continue selling books to their customers with or without a physical e-reader.
With hindsight, one of the biggest roles the Kindle e-reader has played is as a marketing ploy to make e-books accessible to a large audience. Now that e-books are hitting mainstream audiences, with their array of devices, that role is no longer required of the Kindle.
Its legacy, however, will be an amazing multi-device platform for the consumption of ebooks.