I was touched by the crisp and thoughtful strategy presented by Jeff Bezos recently on Charlie Rose ( also covered by Techcrunch) .
Why?…… well the questions that Charlie Rose asked recently on this interview, have been no different from what any New York Times, Techcrunch or other Media have asked recently; ” How are they going to compete against the tablet hype of the today, i.e. iPad”. I felt that that really missed the point entirely. Jeff Bezos did explain this quite well on what is needed for optimized book reading and a device that is focused clearly on that experience. What he missed in my mind is drilling down into the real genius behind what Amazon has been doing with access, conversion and fufilling a business model for the old media world in a new media era . Many ask and compare the product and the category to the iPad, when it is categorically totally different. It is like comparing a bicycle to a bullet train as if they were competing products? Well you can bring your bicycle onto a bullet train, like you can get book titles onto an iPad or iPhone, I guess, but the key is in the usage and the experiences are totally different. eBooks are carving a way to bring centuries of literature into readable 21st century form. Reading hours on end is clearly an area in user experience that must be optimized. There are those that gravitate to something new ( such as in new media), and those that cherish and gravitate toward something in the past ( centuries of long-form media for reading). As Jeff Bezos put it, - You want the hardware to disappear and for the user to experience the book.
Collecting and consuming media on devices is like an antique collector vs. a Ferrari collector, I guess. In this case, the News Media has been digging at the core of what is special about the creation of ”New Media” and business models, when we have something incredible powerful going on here. The eBook trend is now at the tips of our fingertips to give us the ability to get access to all of the past readable media more readily…. like having those wonderful antiques to experience right by your side. As Amazon is now 600K titles strong, how long will it take to get to the 10′s of millions.
According to Wikianswers “How many books exist in the World”, the answer comes out to be 3.5Billion. Most of these books are part of the “old media” and they are not “new media”. Bringing them to live on an electronic device suited for reading can be a very powerful thing. When we think of “New Media” we might compare that to 700Million Websites ( A statistic I recently learned from a colleague at Google). The books of yesterday may have charts, pictures and have color, but fundamentally they are content in long-form for researching and for sizable reading periods. During the 1900′s with the growth of other media such as Radio and Television, the old media of books was paralleled by 20th century new media, but the amount of recorded songs or TV programs does not even come close to the number of 3.5Billion books. For instance, the library of congress has over 18M books, alone. So bringing this legacy of information, knowledge is like bringing the worlds libraries to not only access immediately, but to consume in the way we have done for centuries….simple book reading.
So the Kindle as the showcase product of the category “eBooks” is bringing that “old media” into a more efficient way to consume and access. This was very close to the original vision of Google ( Access to the worlds information) that has seemed to morph quite significantly with their obsession for “new media and advertising as well”. As we now see Google chasing the iPhone and iPad with their Android strategy in many ways they have become ” me too” in their strategy of new products evolution in a category that has been called the ”Multimedia Computer”. Maybe we will see simplified Google Android devices that will go head-to-head with the Kindle for purposes of reading as the main design priority. This will be a very interesting addition to Google Books and Google Print, but it has not yet happened.
As Amazon grows with the Kindle, so will the tendency to migrate the mass numbers of literary form into simple eBooks. It is clearly a unique additional convergence device worth having to take reading to the next level.
( See Next post on the categories of Personal Screen Media)