Amazon markets Kindle exclusively through word-of-mouth
August 26, 2008 | 3:56 pm
I couldn’t let David have all the fun on "Kindleread" today.
Wired’s tech blog has an interesting entry about how Amazon markets the Kindle. At first glance, it would look difficult to sell a rather ugly-looking device, whose very purpose is to be stared at for hours on end, without the chance for potential users to examine it in person.
But Amazon has harnessed the natural tendency of owners smitten with their gadgets to want to show them off to all and sundry. Rather than place the reader in retail stores, or even advertise it widely, they have created a "See a Kindle in Your City" message board to pair up curious potential buyers with Kindle-owners local to their area. Based on the example of Sony before them, this may be a very sound strategy.
"Kindle is actually a tough product to sell at retail," says Michael Gartenberg, vice president of mobile strategy at Jupitermedia. Sony’s e-book reader, a similar product, may have set the tone. It was released earlier than the Kindle in September 2006 and uses the same E Ink technology for its screen—and doesn’t seem to have sold particularly well as a retail product at either Sony’s own stores or at Borders, although Sony, like Amazon, has not released any kind of sales figures for its device. "It’s going to take a fair amount of evangelizing to explain the product, and the best people to evangelize are the users of the products," says Gartenberg of the Kindle.
Not every Kindle owner is particularly pleased about the idea, however. Some point out that it could be an invitation to theft. Others complain that Amazon is offering no referral bonus or other reward for getting someone else to buy a Kindle, except the egoboo of showing off your gadget and the pleasure of meeting other folks interested in e-reading. Still, for many Kindle owners, that will be enough.