Who would have thought that the next "killer app" would be The Sun Also Rises? (Or The Great Gatsby or Instapundit.com, for that matter?)
Ignore the Kindle 2 or downplay it at your own peril. When Asus began shipping the first netbook in late 2007, little did we know then that what looked like a cheapened-down notebook would spiral into a series of lower-cost devices that would alter the way companies like Intel (with its Atom processor), Microsoft (with Windows XP) and most major PC makers would hash out strategy.
Amazon.com's CEO Jeff Bezos gave the world a strong indication that, even as the economy was tanking, even before the Kindle 2 was unveiled, people were flocking to its ebook technology in strongly growing numbers. During his conference call with financial analysts to discuss Amazon.com's most recent quarterly results, Bezos said:
With Kindle sales, we see that when people buy a Kindle, they actually continue to buy the same number of physical books going forward as they did before they owned a Kindle. And then incrementally, they buy about 1.6 to 1.7 electronic books, Kindle books, for every physical book that they buy. So, so far what we're seeing is very strong incremental book unit sales, which of course we're very pleased to see. The biggest surprises so far for Kindle have just been the unusually strong demand that we saw in the fourth quarter. We had anticipated strong demand, and what we saw was stronger than that. So we are extremely grateful for that, and we will keep marching forward here.
Are there chances a full-blown Kindle ecosystem might develop, just as we've seen with Apple's iPhone and App Store? Let's not get ahead of ourselves, but let's not rule it out, either.
In commercial technology circles, Kindle 2 be viewed as a yawner: a single, proprietary, consumer-focused retail product. But that's how the netbook started. That's how the iPhone started. Frankly, that's how the web browser started.
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