Unlike so many e-readers that came before it, the Amazon Kindle captured consumer attention by combining a nice reading experience with a convenient distribution platform through the Kindle e-book store.
In many ways, Amazon's strategy with the Kindle followed Apple's iPod strategy: build a device that people want and make it easy for them to get content onto that device. It worked. And today, the Kindle is the leader in the e-reader market.
But all that can change in a week. When Apple CEO Steve Jobs takes the stage at his company's press event next week to reportedly announce the launch of his company's tablet PC, a new computer that some believe will jumpstart the tablet market, it's possible that Amazon will be affected.
As tablets revealed at CES have shown, tablets, especially Apple's design, could provide the most realistic book-like experience on the market. It supports color. It can potentially work with Amazon's e-books. And most importantly, it can provide a more robust experience than the Kindle. In short, Apple's tablet could be a Kindle killer. Here's why.
1. It's about color
Amazon's Kindle doesn't support color. When reading a novel with no pictures, that might not be a problem. But consider the fact that universities and enterprises-two key sectors of the market-rely on color and it becomes blatantly clear that the Kindle is lacking. Apple's tablet won't suffer from that issue because the device will be able to display e-books in full color.
2. Web, apps and much more
The Kindle does one thing and it does it well: reading e-books. But Apple tablet could offer an e-reader, while throwing in access to iTunes, the ability to use apps, Web surfing, checking e-mail, and much more. Simply put, the Apple design could be a full-featured product. When it comes to value proposition to the consumer, that might mean more than anything the Kindle offers.
3. The e-books are easy to come by
Although Amazon's Kindle Store is a key reason for its success, it likely won't be hard for Apple to get e-books on its device. The iPhone already reads e-books from Kindle's Store, which means that service could be available on the Apple tablet. Allowing Apple's device to work with Kindle e-books would be a smart move for Amazon, since it still can generate revenue from the sale of e-books in its store. But what does it do to the Kindle? Chances are, Amazon's device will quickly turn into the also-ran.
4. It's Apple
Let's not forget which company Amazon is battling against. Apple isn't Sony or Barnes & Noble. Apple fully understands what it takes to make a tech gadget successful in an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace. It also knows what the customers really want from a tablet device. Amazon's Kindle could be facing a tech juggernaut that leaves just scraps for the competition. It's a scary proposition.