Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kindle 2 ships out February 24th

Amazon announced this morning that it would be shipping out its newest product, the Kindle 2, in about two weeks on February 24th. The Kindle 2 is a thin, portable e-book device that also allows one to read newspapers through a wireless network. Will subscriptions to big papers like Wall Street Journal and New York Times mean an eventual monetizing of their product online? A big reason that newspaper companies are struggling right now is that most papers, including NY Times, don't insist that one has a subscription in order to read their paper online. Will companies be smart enough to insist that Kindle 2 readers need a subscription?

Also, when will one of these be cheap enough so that I can buy it? $359 is not quite in my budget, Amazon!

6 comments:

Josh said...

Once upon a time, the NY times required a subscription to read any of the archives of its online product as did the Wall Street Journal.

They likely found that it's more profitable to sell web advertisement based on a large number of web hits than to charge the few who aren't willing to go to Google News and find their news elsewhere. Indeed some newspapers, such as the Baltimore Examiner have given up charging for their print copy at all in favor of larger circulation numbers to sell more ads.

Food for thought...

Katharine J. Relth said...

I know all this. Believe me. But the SMART move would be for newspapers to charge a small subscription fee for those who want to have a portable, slim, convenient device that will read to them while they are driving or getting ready in the morning. Oh yeah, did I mention that the Kindle 2 READS TO YOU??

I understand that Google News is there for all of us who have laptops, desktops, etc, but what about those who want to read their news wirelessly in locales where laptops are not appropriate or convenient? Sure, not everyone is going to get one of these, but those who can afford it will certainly cough up the dough for a new fun toy. For someone who is sad to see newspapers go out of print (call me old-fashioned, call me unwilling to change with the times, no pun intended), I would love to have this device.

Josh said...

In a perfect world sure. But someone is always going to be willing to give it away for free and that will throw the whole paradigm off.

And how do we differentiate from the Kindle and other small pda devices like the iPhone which can access news sites as well? I think it's more likely that news stories come with a premercial of sorts, like the videos on Onion.com or like a lot of web sites.

If I'm wrong, I'll buy you a beer. ;)

Katharine J. Relth said...

Maybe I'm just HOPING that this will work so that this isn't the end of all newspapers...? Again, wishful thinking in a digital world.

And a lot of content does contain one commercial. But this will change once companies figure out how to properly monetize and make the most out of their ad dollars. Instead of "this program is brought to you by (name of one sponsor)" like the old-timey radio model, we're going to see multi-sponsor advertising exactly (or very similar to) that which we see on television.

I think that the only difference with the Kindle 2 and, say, an iPhone, is the screen size and the interface through which the content is presented.

Another cool thing about the Kindle 2 is the e-books feature. You can't deny the awesomeness of having 10 or 20 or 1,500 books stored as digital files accessible to you at any time. With (they claim) a 25% better battery life.

I know I'm totally not sticking to the initial argument. I was never a good debater.

Josh said...

Hey, i want newspapers to survive more than the next guy. Believe me.

I do think however that charging for content for things like Kindle is the kind of knee-jerk reaction that didn't work when the Internet debuted a decade ago and won't work now.

It's out of the box thinking that's going to save newspapers. Take the St. Petersburg Times owned by the not-for-profit Poynter Institute as one example. http://www.poynter.org/dg.lts/id.4100/content.content_view.htm

And never deny the possibility of big egos. What do you think keeps a half dozen or so daily newspapers in print in New York City when most cities can barely support one?

That said, I didn't mean to deny the coolness of the Kindle and only brought up the iPhone to determine if you thought newspapers should charge iPhone users as well. Though, I obviously think charging users for online content is not the correct road to salvation.

Princess Leah said...

This is going to become one of the most interesting questions in popcult and marketing, ever.

I realize that newspapers are in big trouble. The LA Times has dwindled to the thickness of your average high school theme paper. And yet there is nothing like curling up with the Sunday paper and a cup of coffee. And a cat or two. The combination of sensation and memory is too powerful for me to ever imagine going without it.