For those unfamiliar with Kindle, it is basically an electronic book (e-book) computer appliance launched by Amazon.com in late 2007. It uses an electronic paper display, reads the proprietary Kindle (AZW) format, and downloads content over Amazon’s proprietary Whispernet, which uses a mobile phone type wireless connection, and thus does not require the user to be near a hot spot.
The Kindle can be used stand alone without a computer and can hold up to 200 non-illustrated titles. It does not fully support Portable Document Format (PDF), but Amazon provides conversion to the native AZW format and users may also convert PDF files to supported formats using third-party software.
It uses a facile, tangible user interface. Page turning is simple, thanks to the side buttons that allow you to turn forward and backward within the text you’re reading. Other commonplace options, including the scrolling select wheel, are simple to use on your first try. So far some 115,000 tiles are available on Kindle and that list is growing.
Although many have predicted the rise and fall of e-books, however the business case is what is being missed here. Just like carrying around an iPod doesn’t mean throwing away all your CDs, using the Kindle does not imply that one wishes to replace it with paper-based books. iPods are for archival and travelling purposes, and so, in the same way are e-books.
When Kindle debuted in November last year at $US400, it sold out in hours. The device went back on sale in April. One US investment bank estimated that the market for the Kindle is worth between $760 million and $4.5 billion in the US alone.
Amazon won’t say how many people have bought Kindles, but those who do buy them tend to buy also more books, the company noted.
And the company will also not commit to saying whether Kindle will go international or not, but many analysts have gone on record and said that if sales in the US keep climbing, then Amazon will have little choice but to take sales to the rest of the world.
As one analyst put it, “Amazon may have actually out-Appled Apple”.