My wife called me at work yesterday and was excited to tell me that Oprah was going berzerk praising the Kindle as her favorite new gadget.
"She is just going nuts over it," my wife said. "She has Jeff Bezos on the show, too."
We both knew what that meant. Will the Kindle be enveloped by "The Oprah Effect" her legendary magic that instantly turns a book into a best seller? Will the Kindle became the best selling ebook reader? Maybe. While Amazon still covets the Kindle's sales numbers, one guestimate I saw estimated that 250,000+ units have been sold.
This may be good news for authors who have books listed on the Kindle (myself included), but there is one core element that I believe restricts Kindle sales. You cannot feel, touch or play with the device before shelling out $359+. Amazon even created a "See a Kindle in Your City" forum where Kindle owners hook up with potential Kindle buyers to show them the device. Sooner or later we may see the Kindle in bricks and mortar stores, but not sooner. Rumor has it that Amazon is losing money on each Kindle and putting it in a store would only increase that loss.
This is ok for now because I believe the Kindle has no competitors with its wireless capability. It is the only ebook reader with the wireless download feature. However, its closest competitor, the Sony ebook reader, has a significant market share because it is sold in physical stores as well as online. It has also been around longer. Buyers can feel, touch, and play with it before paying $275+ - a major advantage over the Kindle.
Sony has a looming opportunity to grab market share from Kindle by creating a wireless ebook reader with GSM mobile phone technology. GSM would enable downloads anywhere in the world where there is GSM coverage, while the Kindle downloads work only in the US. It is surprising that Sony has not yet produced a wireless ebook reader when it has a joint venture with Ericsson, the giant Swedish mobile phone manufacturer, under the Sony Ericsson brand.
So for now Kindle will be king promoted by the queen of marketing until another wireless ebook reader comes along similar to the Kindle.