Amazon.com's Kindle e-reader will debut in Target stores starting on April 25, representing an escalation in the online retailer's competition against not only other e-reader manufacturers such as Barnes & Noble, but also Apple's bestselling iPad. Both the iPad and Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader are sold through Best Buy. Amazon's release of an SDK (software development kit) for the Kindle, and the acquisition of a company that specializes in touch-screen technology, also demonstrate that the company is looking to hold and grow its share of the increasingly mainstream e-reader market.
Amazon.com's Kindle e-reader will debut in a limited number
of Target stores starting April 25, before rolling out to more of the
retailer's locations throughout 2010. The announcement underscores the
increased competitiveness between the Kindle and other e-reader devices such as
Barnes & Noble's Nook and the Apple iPad, both of which are offered at Best
Amazon's decision to distribute the Kindle outside of its
Website also suggests that the market for e-readers is continuing to evolve
into the mainstream, months after the devices became one of the "must-have"
items of the 2009 holiday shopping season. According to an April 21 report on
Reuters, the Kindle will retail for $259 in both the retail and online arenas.
Originally thought to be a niche product by analysts,
e-readers eventually emerged as a bestselling tech item by the end of 2009, in
turn leading to a price war that drove the prices of both the Nook and Kindle
to $259. Perhaps in response to that growing market, a number of smaller
companies debuted e-readers at January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las
Vegas. While many of those devices attempted to put their own spin on the
traditional e-reader format, with features such as touch screens, both Amazon
and Barnes & Noble have leveraged their size into dominating the market
But Apple's iPad, which includes an e-reader application,
presents a major competitive threat to the other companies within that space.
The iPad's full-color screen allows it to offer more complex layouts and render
images in a way beyond traditional e-readers' grayscale screens. According to
Apple, the iPad sold around 450,000 units during the five days following its
April 3 release.
Both Barnes & Noble and Amazon have issued e-reader
applications for the iPad. In a March 11 posting on the official Barnes &
Noble blog, Paul Hochman, manager of content and social media for
BarnesandNoble.com, wrote that their version of the application would make more
than one million e-books, magazines and newspapers in the Barnes & Noble
eBookstore available to users of the Apple device.
Meanwhile, Amazon has also responded to the prospect of
increased competition by releasing an SDK (software development kit) for
building applications on the Kindle, as
well as recently acquiring a company specializing in touch-screen technology.
Those developments represent a likely bid by the online retailer to design
future editions of the Kindle that operate more like a tablet PC, with various
functionalities in addition to simple e-reading.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.