Originally Posted by DuckieTigger
Kindle already is "the Premium reading platform". Would be interesting to have an insider from Amazon reveal just how many Kindles are beeing sold. Amazon should consider selling epub books as well, but leave the library and most of their discounted and free books Kindle exclusive. Nobody would ever need to go anywhere else when it comes to buying ebooks.
Re: Kindles already being "Premium" Priced - yes and no.
Outside NorthAM where competitor volumes are low and prices high Kindles are by far the low cost leaders. In NorthAM, where volumes are high and B&N has been low-balling the market and driving unsubsidized prices to KSO levels, Kindle pricing is slightly higher that equivalent rivals. And since they're on the only ones still doing 3G-capable readers, they are by default the only ones with a "Premium" product still in their lineup. But they aren't actually charging substantial premiums for equivalent features. KTouch prices, for example are not much higher than Kobo Touch or Sony's pre-xmas sales T1. And the K4 pricing is due to cost-reduction engineering and stripping out features more than aggressive pricing. As I said above, the evidence says Amazon sells Kindles at low margins but not a loss. (For them. Given that their overhead is unusually low, Amazon's pricing probably is lower than *some* competitor's costs.)
re: Selling epubs - With all the flack Amazon takes for allegedly trying to monopolize ebooks (which they clearly aren't) why would they invite governmental/bureaucratic meddling by doing exactly that? The *business* case against epub these days is pretty extensive and growing bigger by the day. It would take an entire thread to list all the ways generic epub is a bad business to be in but let's just focus on two:
1- Amazon could setup a generic ADEPT epub ebookstore parallel to their own. That means paying Adobe for using their DRM, authentication serves, and back end services (whether directly or through somebody like Bluefire). Aside from the fact that outsourcing sales is what got Borders in trouble in the first place, how would this make the Amazon epubstore any different that all the other ones out there? All the advantages of the Kindle ecosystem come from Whispernet which is incompatible with the Adept ecosystem. And with the added costs, Amazon epubs would have to be more expensive than their azws. Who is going to buy Amazon epubs without the guarantee of amazon customer support (ADE problems are Adobe's responsibility, not the ebook vendor's), the convenience of Whispernet, or the lower prices?
2- Now, assume Amazon sells generic epubs using their own DRM wrapper and their own back-end servers to equalize costs a bit (never mind that they'll be doubling their file storage and tracking needs) and offer up epubs through whispernet. To whom? No hardware out there does epub with Amazon DRM. To apps? Fine; they do a KindlePub app that gets epubs from Amazon. How is this any different that getting Kindle azw files from amazon? They still won't work anywhere else. Amazon doubles their operating costs to achieve what?
Folks who want Amazon to do epub usually want access to Amazon's Kindle ebook catalog at Kindle prices. But they also want it on non-Kindle hardware. And that just won't fly; Amazon is not going to spend money supporting a commpetitor which is what using Adept comes down to; paying Adobe fore something they already do on their own and do it better.
Thing is, in the NorthAmerican market the verdict is in: consumers buy ebooks, not ebook formats. Azw or epub is a plumbing matter (copper vs PVC) not something that impacts the reading experience in a way that matters to the consumers. Generic epub's calling card is supposed to be interoperability but the numbers say that consumers don't care about interoperability: Kindle own 50% of the US Market; Nook, 30%; Apple, 10%; Kobo claim high single digits so let's say 8%. That leaves 2% for Sony and the other ADEPT ebookstores. 90-98% of the market is buying their ebooks from walled garden, non-interoperable vendors (depending on whether you think Kobo's kepubs are interoperable or not).
Amazon is going to double (or more) their ooerating costs to go after a 2-10% market? One that is centered on Amzon-haters that wouldn't do business with them on any terms?
Sorry but that doesn't make business sense.
Amazon started Kindle before there was an epub. (They bought Mobipocket in 2005, remember.) The first Kindle came out in 2007, a year before epub went live. They had already built their entire business around Whispernet and the mobi format. Switching at that point was dangerous. (Look what it did to Sony.) So far, the market has done nothing to make them change their mind.
And the way epub is fragmenting into incompatible DRM camps and now even incompatible implementations (Kepubs, ibooks for starters, with epub3 variances to come) even the illusion of epub interoperability is starting to fade. Amazon is best served staying away; at least nobody can blame them for "meddling" if epub collapses in the next few years.
When your oppossition is fighting themselves it is generally best to keep your distance and let them settle it themselves. Then you can focus on the survivors.
Things may change but until they do it is prbably wisest to simply look for ways to widen their lead; with the free library, better magazine and rich-formatting content, and better functionality. And always, more content than the opposition. Those are better uses for their money.
Edit: as for how many Kindles have been sold, it is definitely north of 20 million, maybe as high as 30 but not higher. No other competitor has yet cracked 10 million with precious few getting past 2 million *B&N, Sony, maybe Kobo). The last two years have been pretty good to Kindle with sales averaging about a million a month. And with Brazil and several more european markets on the horizon, 2012 should be pretty good too.