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Old 06-10-2009, 11:12 AM   #1
Gideon
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Wired Reviews the Kindle DX - Good, but Expensive

Wired.com | Supersized Kindle DX Makes E-Reading Easy for a Supersized Price

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The most glaring hindrance of the DX is its price. It costs $490 &mash; more than the original Kindle cost at its launch 19 months ago. Even Apple, which operates on a premium pricing philosophy, typically introduces its improved models at the cost of the previous one. You'd expect the DX to come in at $400, with the Kindle 2 tariff (which remains at $370) dropped to $300. That's plenty for a device that sends you directly to the manufacturer to buy books.

By elegantly supersizing the Kindle — and ramping up its ability to read files — Amazon has improved the best all-around e-reader available. But the hefty price tag doesn't fit Jeff Bezo's stated philosophy of getting the best value for his customers.

WIRED Big-screen device that's even more readable than the original Kindle. PDF support is a welcome addition.

TIRED High cost of admission. Pivot mode has hair trigger. Southpaws will find the reader cumbersome.
The review is essentially very positive, except on the matter of price. And the price is high, of course, but not for an eInk screen like that.
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Old 06-10-2009, 11:29 AM   #2
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I don't think the newness of the technology is a good justification for a sky high price. Think what a premium this is putting on the 'convenience' of reading.
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Old 06-10-2009, 11:36 AM   #3
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But that is the price. eInk screens this big are expensive and so the device is expensive.

That doesn't mean it doesn't suck that it's expensive, or that Amazon should have subsidized it or whatever, but the expensive claim to me only means something in context.

Someone has a $2000 laptop you can say it is expensive because it's a known quantity - you can get a laptop for a few hundred bucks. When the only existing eink screens this big were almost twice the price of the Kindle DX, it is not expensive at all.

New tech, high prices. None of us buying one would do so if we didn't feel the value was worth it - we could wait a couple of years when the price is much lower.
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Old 06-10-2009, 11:37 AM   #4
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As far as I'm concerned buying a good eInk reader is like buying a good chair or mattress. If you read a LOT then its worth getting a good one. I read a lot of articles... this thing will save me money just in ink cartridges!

And, of course, I'm also selling my Kindle 2 when I get it so I'm actually only paying about $100.
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Old 06-10-2009, 12:03 PM   #5
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Amazon launching early - and expensive - is a splendid marketing move. Not only have they beat Apple (the other traditionally expensive hardware vendor) in 2009, but they are well in time for textbook adoption for fall classes. Plus the DX will be out & well tested by the Christmas season.

And the hideously expensive price will help lock customers into their market. For most people, after dropping $500 plus accessories for a large-screened PDF reader, even if some other vendor launches a reader with more features or better screen -- whatever -- they aren't going to be as willing to adopt new hardware. Rather they will wait for Amazon to improve the firmware on their existing DX. This is a sizeable investment for this economic climate.
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Old 06-10-2009, 04:34 PM   #6
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I don't think launching so expensive was necessarily the best move, because the DX is not going to move many units at that price. To lock consumers into your market, you have to sell them the hardware first. At ~$500, even hardcore readers will stay on the fence.

I guess it makes business sense to soak the early adopters when you have the only large-screen model on the market (not counting Irex), but they are going to have to drop the price, perhaps significantly, when competition arrives within a year. Where are the education & newspaper subscription subsidies? They may face early adopter backlash if the DX is $199 with a NYTimes subscription by this Fall.
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Old 06-10-2009, 05:19 PM   #7
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I really doubt they're soaking us with that price. I would imagine they're making a profit but not an exorbitant one. The whole razor-and-blades analogy that we're used to doesn't really apply here since they're taking a loss on their most popular books. I think the price is too high but I think it's not going to be reasonable until the price of the tech comes down and the publishers learn how to rework their business for the new paradigm. If they took little or no margin on the reader and little or negative margin on their books, they wouldn't be able to sustain for very long.
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Old 06-10-2009, 05:46 PM   #8
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The price of the tech is a problem because you have basically one provider of e-ink screens. I don't think that the manufacturing cost of the screens is really as high as is reflected in the retail price, but because there is no competition, there's no incentive to reduce the markup, let alone sell it as a loss leader.

My prediction is that you are suddenly going to see cost reductions due to "volume" or "process improvements" once a viable competitor/alternative to e-ink tech emerges.
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Old 06-10-2009, 06:01 PM   #9
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Since I keep most (and close to all) of my client files in PDF, which I don't particularly enjoy reading on a backlit screen (really bugs my eyes after awhile), I didn't have to think twice about buying a DX. I won't be putting any Amazon content on it .... just my own PDFs, but since it weighs much less than even a single file in paper form, and has a larger screen than my netbook, it is going to be perfect for me.

For light reading, there are my K1s. They are perfect for that. The DX will be perfect for work. Especially for those case files that are in the hundreds to thousands of pages.

I'm so looking forward to it!!
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Old 06-10-2009, 08:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teddman View Post
I don't think launching so expensive was necessarily the best move, because the DX is not going to move many units at that price. To lock consumers into your market, you have to sell them the hardware first. At ~$500, even hardcore readers will stay on the fence.
Amazon doesn't need to lock a large number of consumers; they just have to capture the right group, namely the high-volume readers. The customer does the math, determines if and when they would save money (due to the lower prices and no shipping fees), and calculates that into whether or not an e-book reader will work for them.

However, it's clear to me that the DX is currently aimed at a premium slice of the premium group. Namely, students and professionals who really need technical manuals and PDF's. Students might break even or wind up a little ahead, if they realize substantial savings on textbooks. Professionals will get soaked, but at the same time, $500 isn't quite as bad if it's a tax deduction or if your employer pays for it.

I agree that the K2 and DX are a tad expensive, but I don't think it's quite the barrier to adoption that everyone assumes. A survey recently indicated that only about 9% of potential e-book buyers are waiting for price drops -- not bad in the middle of a major recession, IMO. (About 65% of the public have no interest in an ebook reader at all, btw.)
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Old 06-10-2009, 09:09 PM   #11
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I agree completely with the Wired review, although I'd add that the PDF support is "limited" and if it doesn't improve through software upgrades, the DX may ultimately be seen as a lackluster device. I'm also not pleased that they changed the buttons from the very nice K2 ones back to something more like the K1 buttons, and removed the buttons from the left side.
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Old 06-10-2009, 10:42 PM   #12
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When the only existing eink screens this big were almost twice the price of the Kindle DX, it is not expensive at all.
Absolutely true.
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Old 06-10-2009, 11:07 PM   #13
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I'm not happy about the button thing myself, I tend to use it a lot (and I'm a righty).
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Old 06-11-2009, 04:37 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teddman View Post
The price of the tech is a problem because you have basically one provider of e-ink screens. I don't think that the manufacturing cost of the screens is really as high as is reflected in the retail price, but because there is no competition, there's no incentive to reduce the markup, let alone sell it as a loss leader.
Price has to reflect not only the actual cost of manufacturing, but also has to repay all the development costs, capital investment, and so on, as well as leave a reasonable profit margin. The price seems entirely reasonable to me.
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Old 06-11-2009, 08:21 AM   #15
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Just because it costs a lot to manufacture doesn't mean it's a sensible price. Imagine I could build you a nuclear powered car that would never need refueling, but costing $4,000,000. You could understand that the price is high because nuclear powered cars are new technology. Does it make it worth $4,000,000 when you can buy a good petrol car for on hundredth the cost? I'd say no. The market for $4,000,000 cars is limited because it's not worth the premium to the vast majority of drivers.

Similarly with the DX, you're charging people $500 for the convenience, but the alternative option is a $400 laptop if you want to read electronically or a $5 book if you don't mind carrying around your current reads. In context, I think that's a very high premium on a relatively small value add. In some markets (for instance offices where there are very large numbers of documents produced), it makes sense. For most leisure readers and even many 'serious' readers, I'd question it.
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