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 Buy.
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.
The Kindle announcement follows closely on the heels of Barnes & Noble’s decision to offer its Nook device through Best Buy, which will also preload Nook e-reader software onto a selection of its PCs and smartphones.
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 segment.
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.