Skip navigation

The Lessons From the Kindle’s Success

As I've often noted here, I love the Kindle. I realize it's still too expensive, but it's an amazing eBook reader, with daily newspapers and other periodicals that are automatically downloaded to the device, a pervasive wireless network and device-based online store, and the best collection of content ever seen on such a device. Is it successful? I suppose in the realm of eBook readers, it's a stunning success. As a mass market consumer electronics product, maybe not so much. But my favorite NYT blogger says that Amazon's device is selling faster than expected. And that's good news all around, especially if you're a fan of reading as I am.’s Kindle is not the flop that many predicted when the e-book reader debuted last year. Citibank’s Mark Mahaney has just doubled his forecast of Kindle sales for the year to 380,000. He figures that Amazon’s sales of Kindle hardware and software will hit $1 billion by 2010.

Amazon hasn’t confirmed these numbers, but the e-commerce giant has said that of the 150,000 titles it now sells for the Kindle as well as in paper, more than 10 percent of the sales are in Kindle format.

Anecdotally, I know several people who are absolutely gaga for the Kindle. They happen to be exactly the sort of people for whom Amazon said it had designed the device: heavy readers who want an easy way to carry several books around with them. These Kindle fans are also delighted by how easy it is to shop for and download books onto the device using Amazon’s wireless store.

I think there are a few lessons from this. First you can’t underestimate the miracle that happens when you make something really easy for people.

The second lesson is, to quote a cliché, it takes all kinds. Steve Jobs dismissed the e-book market because “people don’t read anymore.” That may be true broadly, but there could well be a $1 billion business for Amazon serving the tiny share of people who read a lot.

For others — me, for example — software to read Kindle books on an iPhone would be great.

That would be great. Another thing that would be great is a software utility for Windows that would do the same: I'd love to be able to access my Kindle content from a laptop or Tablet PC while traveling.

Anyway, I'm ecstatic it's doing well. The Kindle is one of three technologies that have arrived over the past 12 months--the other two being Windows Home Server/HP MediaSmart Server and Live Mesh--that have really had a measurable (and positive) effect on my life.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.