On Slate, Farhad Manjoo is making a rather bold prediction concerning the pricing of Amazon’s Kindle. Only a short time after Jeff Bezos dropped the price to $189 and introduced a lower-priced wi-fi version for $139, Manjoo predicts Amazon will go even lower in time for the holiday season:
I rarely make predictions about the tech business, but here goes: Before the holidays, Amazon will cut the price of the Wi-Fi Kindle to $99, and the 3G version will go for $150 or less. Amazon will do so, I think, not only to sell a lot of Kindles but also to cement its online store as the iTunes for books—the dominant force in the publishing business for the foreseeable future. A $99 price tag will make the Kindle the hottest gift of the season—much cheaper than the $499 iPad, more useful than an Xbox Kinect, and a lot more fun than a cable-knit sweater.
The price drop will be possible, Manjoo believes, because the cost of producing e-ink screens has fallen dramatically since the Kindle was first introduced, and the wi-fi version can simply leave out the pricey $30 3G module of its bigger brother.
Also, competitors such as Copia are dropping their own prices, and Amazon also dropped the price on its Kindle for the holidays last year making the Kindle the “‘most-gifted’ item in the company’s history.”
And by dropping the price to $99, Amazon could cement its already considerable hold on the e-book business, given that $99 is one of those threshold prices that would get a lot of people to jump off the fence. (Maybe not as many as the $49 Kindle that Seth Godin wants, but baby steps are the way to get there.)
Will we see a $99 Kindle in time for Christmas? Good question. It would certainly rock the e-book market to have a big-name reader go that low. And it’s going to happen sooner or later—so from Bezos’s perspective, why not sooner?