Jeff Bezos’ Amazon continues to disrupt traditional commerce models.
Recently I was in the market for a bright LED (light emitting diode) bicycle headlight. Top shelf LED headlights by Niterider and Baja Designs with outputs in the 2000 lumens range sell for $300 to $450. I searched Amazon and found a much cheaper alternative.
The headlight that I bought is made by China-based Securitying, a company that I’d never heard of. It claimed to produce 2800 lumens, its reviews were favorable, and Amazon sells it for a mere $40. It’s tiny, good and bright, but not perfect. It arrived with no instructions or o-ring mounts, and its low-medium-high-off pushbutton switch isn’t ideal for vehicles. Its output is probably closer to 1200 lumens — not the claimed 2800 lumens. Still, it’s very bright with a nice broad beam.
The interesting part of this is that the Chinese manufacturer seems to have no US-based presence. They’re using Amazon as their importer, American warehouse, distributor, and warranty claims center. I wonder how many other off-shore manufacturers are doing the same?
P.S. I’m so happy with this light that I bought two more: a second to use together with the first one, plus a spare.
Amazon’s margins may be slim on its new Kindles, but it will make money on follow-on purchases of content.
Amazon introduced 4 new Kindle e-readers yesterday. They all push the “bang per buck” point to new heights. Amazon can afford to make little or no money on these devices because it has an infrastructure in place that Kindle owners will want, and be willing to pay for.
In fact, you may already be paying Amazon for use of this infrastructure. The Amazon EC2 system quietly provides reliable on-line storage to a number of headliners. Netflix moved most of its content to Amazon EC2 last year. Dropbox is built upon it, as are some on-line backup storage vendors. Their business model gives away a limited but useful taste of the paid product. As users’ needs grow, they’ll bump into the free product’s limits, and be happy to pay for more.
Everyone has their eyes on the new Kindle Fire, since it puts pressure on Apple’s wildly successful i-Pad. Let’s see how Apple responds.
The real power of all these products is their tight integration into Amazon’s system. Amazon has made it painless and easy for Kindle users to access book and periodical content. What Jeff Bezos, chairman of Amazon, is good at, is almost giving away razors in order to make money selling razor blades.
Google Music (now in beta test) will allow music streaming to Android phones, computers, and tablets.
There’s certainly no love lost between Apple and Google these days. Google has announced a service that’s aimed not just at Apple’s iTunes, but at Amazon’s Cloud Drive, as well. The idea is that Google will synchronize a user’s tunes between all of his or her Internet- connected devices: computers, Android phones, and tablets. It will have a capacity of 20,000 songs per user. The beta test version is available to US-based users by invitation only.
Apparently the tunes will be stored on Google’s servers — not users’ phones. Unless I’m missing something, this is a rare example of Google following in someone else’s footsteps, rather than exploring a new path. Watch the above video clip for Google’s explanation.
Amazon shows new, smaller Kindle e-book reader with same screen size, improved battery life, plus a $139 WiFi-only model
Charlie Rose, a lawyer turned television interviewer, is amazingly clued-in to information technology trends. On Wednesday night, he (again) interviewed Jeff Bezos, the long-time CEO of Amazon.com.
Jeff brought with him Amazon’s newest version of its ground-breaking Kindle e-book reader. It’s smaller, lighter, has better screen contrast, and has a one-month battery life, yet retains the same screen dimensions as the earlier Kindle. It looks like a winner. It will be released on August 27. The conversation had the easy, natural flow of a meeting between old friends — which apparently is the relationship between Jeff and Charlie. I especially enjoyed hearing Bezos, with apparent candor, explain the reasoning behind some of the Kindle’s design decisions: the trade-off between touch-screen functionality and minimum glare, for example. He emphasized that high contrast paper-like presentation with minimal eye strain remain Kindle design goals.
Mr. Bezos mentioned that at Amazon, over the past three months, sales of books in Kindle format have outnumbered sales of hardcover books by about 50%, and that this margin is widening.
The interview goes on to cover Amazon’s remarkable success, which Mr. Bezos attributes to Amazon’s concentration on customer satisfaction, and its willingness to suffer initial losses as it gains market share in new markets. (Sounds like the Japanese way of doing business.) All in all, it’s an interview worth watching.
Amazon has introduced the Kindle 2 wireless reading device. Early reviews indicate that it fixes most of the first generation Kindle’s shortcomings. It sounds like an upgrade in every way – an almost human-like reading voice, a basic web browser, a thinner case with better ergonomics – although its price is still high ($359.00). Users report that among their favorite features is that, unlike its competitors, the Kindle doesn’t ever need to be connected to a PC; it’s completely wireless and standalone. Steve Gibson positively loves his Kindle 2.
Amazon seems to have hit a home run with not just this product, but the whole Kindle system: wireless bookstore, easy downloading of books and periodicals from a huge selection, easy on the eyes paper-like display, and good battery lfe.
Now, if Amazon would just drop the price a bit . . .