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The Partnership Continues: Apple iPad Now Available from Third-Party Sellers on Amazon

We’ll say it again: far more than they are competitors, the real bottom line is that Amazon and Apple are partners. We’ve already discussed the primary ways in which Amazon will make millions (and eventually billions) via the iPad, and here are some more.

Third-party sellers are now selling Apple’s new iPad on Amazon’s website, but at least for now it’s no “Big Deal.” The lowest third-party price for the base 16GB wifi model, as I post this note, is about $125 higher than the price at which the same model is available in the Apple Store. Even if you add in $6.49 for shipping and subtract sales tax in a back of the envelope comparison with the price you would pay directly to Apple, you would still be out a hundred bucks or so. Nearly all of the third-party sellers offering iPads at prices between $600 and $1,000 are low-volume or “just launched” sellers, and they may be hoping for some arbitrage profit if Apple happens to run out of iPads.

However, I’ll be watching closely to see if Amazon itself becomes an iPad seller, which I do expect to happen soon. Amazon has been very successful at selling the various iPod Touch models, usually at prices slightly lower than those available from Apple. Even if an Amazon offering of the iPad were to be priced at par with the Apple Store’s offering, the combination of a sales tax differential and Amazon’s no-hassle 30-day return policy could make it a better deal for many prospective buyers.

Meanwhile, the Amazon Store may already be the best place to shop for iPad accessories like these:

Targus Hughes Leather Portfolio Slipcase Designed for 9.7 Inch Apple iPad TES00701US (Brown) (left, $59.99)

Apple Wireless Keyboard – $69 – I’ve been using one with the iPad for a couple of days and loving it

13-Item Accessories Bundle for Apple iPad Tablet Wifi / 3G skin case, sleeve, earphone, screen protector, crystal case, FM transmitter, speaker, cable + more


 Be.ez 100884 LA robe Allure Sleeve for New iPad (Red Kiss) (left, $29.99)

Apple iPad Car Charger (White)

Scratch Defense Neoprene Sleeve for the Apple iPad

Belkin F8N277tt Pleated Sleeve for iPad – Black

Marware Sport Grip Pro for iPad Black/Black (left, $34.99)

Macally MSUITPAD Silicon Protective Case for iPad

Shade Anti-glare Film for iPad

Hard Candy Cases Sleek Skin for Apple iPad – Orange

Marware Eco-Vue for iPad

The Kindle 3 is Out … It’s Called the iPad, and This is No Nightmare for Jeff Bezos

Let me repeat that headline.

The Kindle 3 is out, and it’s called the iPad.

My iPad was delivered Saturday and I have been putting it through its paces. There will be plenty to sort out in the realms of device and content pricing, features, definition of purpose, and openness to content, which are not small things. But the bottom line is that the iPad is a terrific device with such amazing and elegant hardware that users, content providers, developers, and Apple will figure all that stuff out in waves of creative explosion over the next couple of years. You may well be skeptical about where an iPad’s price, features, and uses could ever fit into your life, but after having used my iPad in a variety of ways over the past 48 hours I suspect there is a good chance you will decide, sometime in the next year or two, to try out an iPad and perhaps to buy one.

The frequency of such test drives and the likelihood that a high percentage of them will turn out positively suggests strongly to me that by the end of 2011 there will be an installed base of over 10 million iPads. It will be clear, by then, that the iPad has succeeded in “killing” several other “competitors.”

  • The iPad will kill the netbook. Dead. (I have a netbook sitting on the desk to my left. It cost about $275 less than a year ago. Send me $50 or a nice leather cover for my iPad, and the netbook is yours.)
  • As its hardware and software features and versatility are enhanced both by Apple and app developers, the iPad will not kill the laptop dead, but it will seriously wound its mass appeal.
  • The iPad will also kill or seriously cannibalize sales of the iPod Touch, especially if Apple figures out a way to put the iPad on a diet so that it loses 25 to 30 percent of its hefty 1.5 pound body weight. (I realize that it is patently absurd to call a 24-ounce computer “hefty,” but depending on your hand and wrist strength and the uses to which you expect to put the iPad, you may notice the fact that it weighs 5 times as much as an iPhone and 6 times as much as iPod Touch.)
  • The iPad could even cut into iPhone, BlackBerry, and Droid sales, although this would likely take a while to gather momentum. Let me just say that the Skype for app works like a charm on the wifi iPad, and there’s no reason to think that it wouldn’t work just as well with the 3G iPad that ships later this month. Synch that 3G iPad up with nearly-free Skype and a Bluetooth hands-free unit and we could be talking about serious disruption to the cellphone industry.

But what about the Kindle? Will the iPad be a Kindle Killer?

Well, yes and no.

There will be millions of people who buy iPads in the next few years who will never buy Kindles (or Nooks or Sony Readers or any other dedicated ebook readers, for that matter.) The Kindle device itself will continue to chug along in its current and future models, building upon and doubling (this year) its current installed base of about 3 million units, but the iPad’s installed base will probably catch up with the Kindle’s hardware base within a year and keep right on going. The iPad is that great a device, that much fun, and it is aimed not only at serious readers but at people who like music, movies, games, television, surfing the web, and the thousands of other little conveniences, amusements, and distractions that can be found in the Apps store.

And all of that will be phenomenally good for Amazon and Amazon’s Kindle Store. We’ll elaborate in subsequent posts on why the Kindle Store holds what could turn out to be an insurmountable lead over the iBooks store as the primary ebook provider for iPad owners, but the short answer is the 4 Cs that we’ve discussed here before: catalog, customers, convenience, and connectivity.

The fact is that Amazon knew half a dozen years ago that something like the iPad was coming from someone like Apple, and that it would mean, by sometime midway in this new decade, a huge decline in sales of print books. I think of it as Jeff Bezos’ Nightmare, an imaginary event that might have occurred back in, say, 2003. I imagine the Amazon founder and CEO waking up in a state of night terror after glimpsing the end of the online bookselling retail business that he had created less than a decade before, the business that had already made him, then, one of the wealthiest thirty-somethings in the world.

Anyone in the book business could have had a similar nightmare, and it’s clear that many did. What’s distinctive about Bezos’ experience is what he did with those terrifying circumstances. There is little reason to think that he lusted to become a hardware inventor and manufacturer, but by launching the Kindle in November 2007 he allowed Amazon to pivot and put itself in position to see its book business grow, rather than diminish.

Now, 28 months later, Apple has put all of its hardware design, manufacturing and marketing genius behind the launch of the iPad. The iPad will simultaneously be the hottest and the coolest hardware device of the next few years, and it will allow Apple to continue to build upon its supremacy in hardware, music retailing, apps retailing, and operating system and software design and retailing while also strengthening its hand in newer areas of business development. 

Apple’s iBooks reading environment is very nice, although it will not prove significantly different from or better than the Kindle for iPad reading environment. Whether iPad users employ the iBooks or Kindle for iPad environment to read content will depend primarily on where the content came from and what the reader is accustomed to. In those categories and others, the Kindle App has huge advantages for the foreseeable future over the iBooks App. For starters:

  • Using the roughest back of the envelope calculations, it’s fair to assume that readers have purchased and downloaded over a quarter a billion ebooks from the Kindle Store compared to a few thousand from the iBook Store. Any iPad owner who wants access to those previously purchased ebooks will get it by downloading the Kindle for iPad App and then downloading his ebooks from his Kindle “archived items,” all of which is free and takes a few seconds per title.
  • Apple and Amazon are the two most popular companies with tech-savvy US residents, so it won’t be surprising that, among iPad owners who plan to use the device as an ebook reader, the majority will prove, also, to be loyal Amazon customers who love the book searching, browsing and buying features of the Amazon Store. They will be looking to replicate those features in shopping for iPad-compatible ebooks, and only the Kindle Store will offer that experience. Browsing the iBooks store today and looking for something so basic as a genuine customer review can be an ugly experience.
  • There were 80,000 books in the Kindle Store at launch, and a small percentage were public domain books. But now there are nearly half a million books in the Kindle Store, and fewer than 10 percent are public domain. In the iBooks Store, the reports are that there are 60,000 titles, half of them public domain titles, and none of them from the world’s largest English-language book publisher.

Enough for now. We’ll see how this shakes out, but from where I sat on baseball’s Opening Day yesterday and the iPad’s opening weekend, it appeared that Apple had hit a grand slam home run.

But with respect to ebook content, the bases were loaded with Kindle Store ebooks.

4/1 Price Breakdown on 480,238 Kindle Store eBook Titles: The Agency Model is Here, And Not Much Has Changed … Yet

It’s April 1, April Fool’s Day, and Day One of Steve Jobs’ grand “Agency Model” experiment to transform the book industry by raising ebooks prices 30 to 50 per cent.

Do you know where your Kindle Store prices are?

We do, and there may be a few surprised faces when we share what we have. Long story short: Prices are pretty much the same as they were a few weeks ago, but there have been tiny declines in the percentage of books at the price points to which Apple, the Apple 5 publishers, and the agency model were supposedly driving ebook prices:

  • the percentage of Kindle Store books priced from $10 to $12.99 has fallen from 1.25% to 1.24%
  • the percentage of Kindle Store books priced from $13 to 14.99 has fallen from 2.96% to 2.95%
  • the percentage of Kindle Store books priced at $15 and up has fallen from 19.31% to 18.64%

Meanwhile, (almost) everybody’s favorite tech critic, the New York Times’ David Pogue, has this to say about the iPad as an ebook reader:

There’s an e-book reader app, but it’s not going to rescue the newspaper and book industries (sorry, media pundits). The selection is puny (60,000 titles for now). You can’t read well in direct sunlight. At 1.5 pounds, the iPad gets heavy in your hand after awhile (the Kindle is 10 ounces). And you can’t read books from the Apple bookstore on any other machine — not even a Mac or iPhone. 


Here’s a price breakdown of the 480,238 book titles in the Kindle Store as of 6 a.m. EDT on April 1, 2010:

Here’s where we stood with about 463,000 Kindle Store titles on March 10:

  • 20,125 Kindle Books Priced “Free” (4.34%)
  • 2,588 Titles Priced from a Penny to 98 Cents (0.56%)
  • 39,095 Kindle Books Priced at 99 Cents (8.44%)
  • 64,105 Kindle Books Priced from $1 to $2.99 (13.84%)
  • 90,580 Kindle Books Priced from $3 to $4.99 (19.55%)
  • 84,055 Titles Priced from $5 to $9.98 (18.15%)
  • 53,697 Titles Priced at $9.99 (11.56%)
  • 5,793 Titles Priced from $10 to $12.99 (1.25%)
  • 13,731 Titles Priced from $13 to $14.99 (2.96%)
  • 89,448 Titles Priced at $15 and Up (19.31%)

And were’s where we stood with about 447,000 Kindle Store titles on February 25:

  • 19,795 Kindle Books Priced “Free” (4.42%) 
  • 3,023 Titles Priced from a Penny to 98 Cents (0.67%) 
  • 36,370 Kindle Books Priced at 99 Cents (8.12%) 
  • 62,275 Kindle Books Priced from $1 to $2.99 (13.9%) 
  • 87,722 Kindle Books Priced from $3 to $4.99 (19.58%) 
  • 81,230 Titles Priced from $5 to $9.98 (18.13%) 
  • 55,269 Titles Priced at $9.99 (12.34%) 
  • 5,139 Titles Priced from $10 to $12.99 (1.15%) 
  • 9,331 Titles Priced from $13 to $14.99 (2.08%) 
  • 87,771 Titles Priced at $15 and Up (19.59%)

Coming Soon: Kindle for iPad and Other Tablets

As we’ve been saying, Kindle Apps are coming soon for tablet computers like the iPad, the Dell Mini 5 “Streak,” and other releases, and this morning Amazon has added one more official indication with a new page on the Kindle site. No big surprises here, but here’s what Amazon has to say about the coming apps:

Experience the Beautiful User Interface

  • Get the best reading experience  available on your tablet computer including the iPad. No Kindle required
  • Tailored to the size, look, and feel of your  tablet computer
  • Customize background  color and font size to ease eye strain
  • Adjust  screen brightness from within the app to make reading easier
  • Page turn animation replicates the look of  turning a page in a book. Or choose Basic Reading Mode for a simpler and  unadorned reading experience

Read Kindle Books on Your Tablet Computer  Including the iPad

  • Amazon’s Whispersync technology  automatically synchronizes your last page read, bookmarks, notes and  highlights with Kindle and Kindle-compatible devices  PC, Mac, iPhone, and BlackBerry
  • Customers can start reading on one device and,  on another, pick up where they left off
  • Already have a Kindle? Access your Kindle books even if you  don’t have your Kindle with you
  • Create  bookmarks, notes, and highlights, and view the annotations you created  on your Kindle

Shop for Books in the Kindle Store

  • Search and browse more than 450,000  Kindle books, including 101 of 112 New York Times® Best Sellers. If you  are a non-U.S. customer, book availability may vary
  • Get free book samples–read the first chapter  for free before you decide to buy
  • Books  you purchase can also be read on a Kindle and Kindle-compatible devices

Waiting for the iPad: What’s the Real Scoop on iBooks and VoiceOver?

Early Saturday morning I pre-ordered an iPad, which will arrive here at my home on April 3. I went back and forth for a week about whether to hold out for the far more expensive 3G version that does not ship until late April, but finally decided that since 95 percent of my iPad use would likely occur in locations with wifi, I could go the “economy” route. (I’ll have a little more to say tomorrow about the expense of iPad ownership.)

I expect to get a lot of use out of the iPad, from occasionally writing Kindle Nation Daily posts and other material to enjoying music and film to using the Kindle for iPad app to read of the hundreds of ebooks that I have purchased, and will continue to purchase, from the Kindle Store.

I have plenty of questions about the iPad, many of which I probably won’t be able to answer to my own satisfaction until I have it in my hands. But for now the two questions that are foremost on my mind concern specific functionality issues with the Kindle for iPad app and with Apple’s new “iBooks on iPad” ebook store and reading software:

  • First, will the Kindle for iPad app be more like the Kindle for iPhone app or like the Kindle for Mac app? The Kindle for iPhone app allows me to make my own notes and highlights in a Kindle document, which is nice, but those features are supposed to be in the works for the Kindle for Mac app. Frankly, I would prefer that the Kindle for iPad app come with the Kindle for Mac’s capacity to allow me to maintain and read any Kindle-compatible books and documents that I can download from sources such as the Internet Archive, the Project Gutenberg Magic Catalog, Instapaper, Calibre, or (through Amazon’s conversion service) my own sources. While much of what has been written about the iPad makes it out to be a supersized iPod Touch, I’m hoping to find that, consistent with its apparent capacity to work like a tablet computer with iWorks files and other files, it might be more of an undersized Mac. We’ll see, and in the process we’ll see what it can do with a Kindle app.
  • Second, I’m very curious to find out whether the iPad’s VoiceOver actually works like the Kindle’s text-to-speech, as some reports have suggested based on this sentence from the iBooks page in the Apple Store: “iBooks works with VoiceOver, the screen reader in iPad, so it can read you the contents of any page.” That sounds interesting, but frankly it does not sound like the Kindle’s text-to-speech, which can read me the contents of any book, except, of course, for the many books on which publishers have disabled text-to-speech. There’s a big difference, whether you are listening to a book being read aloud on a long drive or as you drift off to sleep, between a reading-aloud process that keeps reading page after page and one that has to be re-set for each page. I have to assume that if VoiceOver could read an entire book aloud, Apple’s marketing staff would have been up to the task of sharing that information a bit more explicitly. On the other hand, if VoiceOver is really just a one-page-at-a-time deal, I wonder if Apple’s copywriters have somehow been trying to fudge that performance issue in something like the way Barnes & Noble copywriters overstated the Nook’s ebook lending feature and understated its weight back in late 2009. Either way, I hope Apple can clear it up right away.

There are other questions about VoiceOver, of course, and the two most prominent for me right now are:

  • Will VoiceOver be uniformly enabled by all iBooks publishers, or will it be blocked by the same publishers who have disabled text-to-speech on their Kindle ebooks?
  • Is VoiceOver a universal feature on the iPad and thus one that we might expect to be able to use while reading with the Kindle for iPad app?

Just a few questions while I wait for a shiny new toy that I am convinced will also help me work more efficiently.

Around the Kindlesphere, February 27, 2010: That Story About Apple Denying 1-Click Access for the Kindle App? So Far At Least, It’s a Non-Story

Publishing and ebook bloggers and pundits are claiming that Apple has created an uneven playing field between the iBooks App it will soon roll out for its iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch devices and the Kindle Apps that are available alongside for buying and reading books from the Kindle Store on the same devices. According to Jay Yarow at the Silicon Valley Business Insider, customers using the Kindle for iPhone App “have to leave the app to buy e-books,” whereas “the iBookstore will let you seamlessly buy books from within the iBooks reader app, with the iTunes account it’s already aware of.”

Sounds ominous, except that it is not true in any noticeable or significant way.

Whether Yarow is simply confused, is trying to make a controversy where one does not exist, or is confusing the present (and the Kindle for iPhone App) with the future (and the iPad and or a potentially changed Kindle for iPhone App), is unclear.

Since Yarow’s report rang false for me based on my prior experiences using the Kindle for iPhone App with the iPod Touch, I revisited the experience.

  • I turn on the iPod Touch, press the little Kindle for iPhone App icon, and press the “Get Books” button in the upper right corner. I am delivered instantaneously to the Amazon Kindle Store, just as the Kindle would deliver me (a tiny bit more slowly, I might add) to its version of the Kindle Store.
  • The Kindle Store recognizes me immediately because, in order to have downloaded and initially opened the Kindle for iPhone App, I have already entered the email address and password associated with my Amazon account.
  • I tap on a title from the list of Kindle Top Sellers, Shutter Island, and within a second I am taken to a screen with buttons that include “Buy Now with 1-Click” and “Try a Sample,” and giveme a choice of whether I prefer to have the file sent to my iPod, my Kindle, or one of my Kindle for PC accounts.
  • I see that the bestselling book is priced at $4.39 in the Kindle Store and I tap “Buy Now with 1-Click.”
  • On the next screen, which appears automatically in less than a second, I see a “Thank your for your purchase” message with small print that said “We are sending your item and it will automatically appear in your Home Screen when the download is complete.” Below this text are buttons for “Continue Shopping” and “Go to Kindle for iPhone.”
  • When I tap on the “Go to Kindle for iPhone” button, Shutter Island appears at the top of my Home Screen within three seconds.
  • With another tap, the book opens within another second or two and I begin reading. 

The experience, all in all, takes less than 10 seconds. It is virtually identical to the experience, with the Kindle itself, of going into the Kindle Store to buy and open a book, except that it is a tiny bit faster on the iPod Touch. It takes about the same amount of time it takes me to go to the iTunes Store, find a piece of music, buy it, and start listening.

Which means, all in all, that Yarow’s story is a non-story.

At least for now.

If Apple intends to create special impediments in the buying experience for the iPad, impediments that do not now exist with the Kindle for iPhone App, they would be gumming up the works in an obviously meddlesome way that millions of their own customers would resent. And if Apple intends to add such impediments at this late date to the Kindle for iPhone App, almost a year after its launch, they would probably be leaving themselves wide open, perhaps not for the first time, to anti-trust scrutiny by the Department of Justice. But then, Steve Jobs is probably already “a person of interest” to the Department of Justice.

Around the Kindlesphere, February 25, 2010: iPad Killers and Kindle Apps

  • It’s 9 a.m. in Arlington, 6 a.m. in Cupertino, and still no Apple Store pre-order page for the Apple iPad despite rumors that the new tablet would be available for pre-order today. While we keep watch for you there, you can go to Amazon for a Protective Carrying Case, or to M-Edge to scope out a colorful choice of protective covers soon to be released for the iPad.
  • If you’re among those who are questioning whether you want to lay out the $1,500-$2,500 that it will cost to keep a 3G iPad up and running over three or four years, the time may be coming when the iPad’s availability drives down prices for Apple’s iPod Touch. My partner in a Committed relationship loves the Kindle for iPod Touch app: she just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest on her Touch (we bought the bestseller in the Kindle Store for $9.99), and brought the iPod to her book group last night so she could check her bookmarks during the conversation. Best place to keep track of the best prices for the various iPod Touch models?  Amazon’s iPod Store.

Speaking of Apple, two little snippets that caught my eye from the 24/7WallStreet blog: