Monday, December 24, 2007

A Zany Amazon Prediction for 2008

It's just too much fun trying to predict the moves of one of the most important players in the book industry.... I guess I'm officially one of those 'pundits'. there is no price to pay for a wrong prediction, so why not throw a few out there, right?

Yesterday, I went to the local Apple Store to purchase a gift for a family member (who must remain nameless for a couple of days). Their primary 'Christmas product', the iPod Nano was set up in stacks, with an express checkout assembly all setup to maximize the sales of these little wonders.

This morning, I was reading Joe Wikert's Kindleville, about the fact that Kindles haven't been shipping... and bam... these two disparate ideas clanged, and I couldn't help but think that maybe Kindle will take Amazon into the Bricks and Mortar world. Is it really too hard to imagine, an Amazon store tucked in with all the other upscale stores in every mall and in every major city? The picture of Kindles stacked up like nano's seems very plausible to me.

After all, I may be wrong, but isn't this the first Amazon Branded product? Could the Kindle simply be a test to see whether the Amazon brand is ubiquitous enough to be placed on different types of products? Can the virtual brand float into the tangible world? The voices highlighting this aspect of the Kindle have been pretty weak... I'm sure someone has made this connection, but I haven't read about it.

But a leap from branding to bricks and mortar? I know it may seem a bit far fetched, but then I'm reminded of all those huge distribution centers Amazon built a few years back. Were they really designed to be just to facilitate mail orders to online customers? Their geography seems to be designed more like supporting retail distribution.

Anyway, enough punditry for now.... We'll see what 2008 brings. Whatever it is, I'm sure we're in for a few surprises. You can almost feel them in the air.

1 comment:

Joe Wikert said...

Hi Fran. I submitted a series of Kindleville interview questions to an Amazon rep before Christmas and brick-and-mortar distribution was one of them. I haven't heard back from them yet but I too am wondering about the prospects of broader distribution.

I tend to think Amazon wanted to dip their toe in the water a bit and see what sort of impact they could have on their own. Heck, if they can't ramp up the manufacturing efforts to keep up with their online orders there's probably no reason to bother with brick-and-mortar distribution though! ;-)

A Kindleville reader posted a related comment earlier in the month. They noted how the Kindle will probably require more "touching" than Amazon is used to, and without a brick-and-mortar distribution presence their success will be limited at best. It's an interesting point, especially since so few Kindles are currently in use today, so it's hard to even see one on your block or at your office. It's a rare sighting when one is spotted.