Friday, October 30, 2009

Kindle goes International - a revolutionary step!!

Amazon is definitely an amazing company. When they launched the Kindle a couple of years back, the reaction from the publishing industry was rather muted. Well, the Sony ebook reader was already available and there were not many users. The industry was rather skeptical about Amazon's move - can a internet retailer develop and sell and consumer electronic product? Who will buy ebooks? After spending hours in front of a computer screen would professionals want to spend even their leisure time with another electronic screen? However, Amazon proved everybody wrong - not only did they keep improving the Kindle, but they built up their ebook collection quickly and steadily (now at over 350,000 titles) and continued to put pressure on the publishers to reduce the prices of the ebook versions. It became clear that the users loved the Kindle - especially the cellular wireless feature that allowed them to download the books from anywhere in the U.S, without a computer or an internet connection. I wonder how a consumer product giant like Sony could have missed out this feature!!

The Industry finally took notice - Barnes & Nobles announced the launch of the ebook reader (called Nook) with all Kindle features and more (part color LCD screen below the e-ink screen, book lending feature etc), Sony announced their next version with wireless, Plastic Logic and many others are now coming with their own products....

But that is when Amazon launched the bombshell - an international version of the Kindle which will work in 100 countries!! The rest of the pack now sits around with egg in their faces.......

Why is this move by Amazon revolutionary? Amazon had been concentrating only in the U.S as far as the Kindle is concerned. People knew they would eventually move into other markets - but that would typically be one country at a time - right? - you would think they would need country wise telecom connectivity & approvals, local marketing, support, regional rights for the content and so on. Well, I am not sure how they are handling all this - but they definitely managed to upstage everybody with this clever move of a simultaneous launch in 100 countries. And just like they did in the U.S in sticking to a online sales model (Kindle is not available through any retail stores in the U.S), they are doing the same internationally. You can order online at the Amazon web site from any of the 100 countries and they will ship it to you from the U.S. They will handle the customs duty and provide you with an estimate total cost upfront.

Is the product worth it? Absolutely!! In India the landed cost will come to about $400, and the price of ebook will be perceived as high - since paperback publications in India are available at normally 20% of the international price. But still if you normally read business books and other international publications (which you can get only at U.S prices), the Kindle will not only provide you immediate access to these content but also reduce your costs by about 50%. And think about the access now to the thousands of books that are normally out of print!

I am sure in the next couple of years, Amazon will sell many times more the International version of the Kindle than they have sold the U.S version. Though U.S remains the biggest single market in the world, we will now be able to see the effects of globalization and this will become a classic case study of how innovative U.S companies can leverage the global market without wasting time on building local outlets across the world - even for consumer products.


Arulmurugan said...

Kindle for pc is released no Kindle required. Mac version yet to come.

S (Sam) Santhosh said...

Yes, I saw that; did not check it out yet. Can non kindle users download and use it?

Arulmurugan said...

Yes non kindle user can download and use it.

"Kindle for PC is the perfect companion application for customers who own a Kindle or Kindle DX," said Ian Freed, vice president, Amazon Kindle.

Sony's eBook Store and are compatible with a Mac or a PC, while Kindle for PC is compatible with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.