Amazon Kindle has been around for a couple of years now. The device has come a long way since its early days. And while it has a long way to go before becoming anything close to a perfect e-book reader, it does have a considerable following around the U.S. In the past few months, a lot of e-book reader makers have taken blow from the Amazon Kindle, and some are now fighting back. Sony Reader, which was the original leader in the e-book reader market, is working on new e-book reader models to challenge the Kindle more effectively. iRex, too, is finally expanding its business in the U.S. by coming up with a brand new model. Most of these models have improved upon significantly in comparison to their predecessors, but they are not Kindle killers just yet. But what do they have that Amazon Kindle doesn’t? Third-party distribution.
Sony could have taken the same approach that Amazon is taking with the Kindle. But that wouldn’t be such a smart idea as Sony store is not anywhere close to Amazon.com. iRex is also taking the same approach as Sony when it comes to distribution. Both devices will be available at BestBuy, so people can actually walk to a store and pick up an e-book reader on their way out. These companies have their device available on Amazon.com as well, so they are essentially getting the best of both online and offline worlds. So why is it that Amazon doesn’t offer the Kindle through Bestbuy or Walmart (like Apple)?
Apple has been very sensitive about how people go about activating its phones. After all, it doesn’t want people to find a way around the process and avoid getting into that 2 year agreement with at&t. Amazon doesn’t have that problem with the Kindle. There is no monthly wireless service to pay for, so it’d be easier to offer Amazon on third-party retailer stores. One should be under no illusion that working out a deal with companies such as BestBuy and Walmart is not that straightforward, and a lot of details need to be worked out before the move can take place. At the same time, Amazon is doing the Kindle injustice by leaving it off the shelves in these stores. There is no reason for the average Joe not to have heard of or seen a Kindle in 2009.
Amazon may have to lower its prices a bit or sacrifice some of its profit to get Kindle available in Bestbuys and Walmarts around the U.S. Or it could just offer Kindle 1.0 in those stores. The device could be sold for $149 or some low price to not only get more people to try the Amazon Kindle but also get more people to upgrade to the last generation Kindle over the long run. If Amazon is treating Kindle as a long term venture, why not offer Kindle 1 or 2 for less in return for customers who will most likely upgrade to Kindle 3.0 in a year or two? As mentioned above, dealing with retailers such as Walmart is not easy at all. Apple went back and forth with them for month, and that could be the case for Amazon. But wouldn’t be nice to see Amazon Kindle offered in BestBuy or Walmart?
Your take: would you prefer trying and buying your Kindle in an offline BestBuy or Walmart store?