Amazon Kindle launches globally, sort of

Today, Amazon have launched a new Kindle that they are marketing internationally. Prior Kindle models were limited to use in the US. Key details:

  • Big promotion in the centre of the front page of Amazon sites in the UK, France, Germany and Japan.
  • Only for sale on Amazon.com and priced in USD at $279 (i.e. a $20 mark-up over existing Kindle2). Promotions above have links to Amazon's US site to buy.
  • Books are also for sale only via Amazon.com and are also priced in USD (at least for now).
  • This is the first Kindle that uses a GSM-standard mobile phone radio -- rather than CDMA -- for wireless downloading of books, sync of reading position with other Kindles and the iPhone Kindle app (i.e. to drive Amazon's Whispersync consumer cloud service).
  • Uses AT&T's mobile network and AT&T's global mobile roaming partners for Whispersync.
  • When outside the US, Kindle owners pay an additional charge for each book downloaded, currently USD1.99 per download. I imagine this also includes downloading PDFs via the email to Kindle conversion process and downloading small items like blogs or newspapers.

I'm frankly astonished that Amazon is marketing the above product internationally so strongly. Instead, it looks like a great fit for US residents who want to own a Kindle that works both in the US and when they travel abroad. Or, Amazon could have chosen a much softer and lower key international promotion on their various global sites.

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One more attempt from Napster to attract the masses

Subscription based music services have a niche appeal. But under Best Buy’s ownership, Napster is truly attempting to go mass market. First it came up with its 5 for 5 offer, whereby you pay $5 a month for unlimited streaming and you can keep 5 MP3s at the end of the month. And now it is giving that away for free for a year (i.e. 60 MP3s and unlimited streaming for a year) when you buy select Dell PCs from Best Buy or directly from Dell. 

 

It’s a great offer for consumers. It’s also a no brainer for Dell. Free Napster for a year can really help them differentiate in a highly commoditized PC markets. How it will work out for Napster remains to be seen. In order to be successful, Napster will have to hope that

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London's Evening Standard goes from paid to free - will it work?

The announcement that London’s Evening Standard is moving from paid to free is the latest twist in London’s newspaper wars, following the closure of Rupert Murdoch’s free Londonpaper, which failed to make a quick enough return for its owner in the face of its free (but inferior) rival from the Daily Mail publisher DMGT. Now the long-established Standard, with its new Russian owner, is coming out fighting by abandoning its cover price. With many other publishers now considering going in the opposite direction (online at least), who has got it right?

Neither is an easy route for publishers, and I speak from bitter experience. A long time ago I edited a free movie magazine, distributed in cinemas, with a circulation of more than 1 million. Happy days? Not quite. It was a struggle to make a profit, once those hefty print and distribution costs had been met. The message from elusive advertisers was that readers who didn’t pay for a mag were not worth a lot, that active buyers were what they wanted.

Long story short, we shifted to a paid-for version, hoping that our newly engaged readers would please the advertisers. We ended up with a paid circulation of around 40,000 (which I know now is an eminently respectable conversion rate of 4%), but the message from advertisers was just as unhelpful. We now didn’t have enough readers. Funny that.

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The death of Verizon's Hub: A wake-up call to CPS professionals

Yesterday, Verizon told the world that its Hub VoIP phone was being discontinued, effective immediately.  And I use the phrase "told the world" loosely, because I don't think too many people were really listening.  I offered up my thoughts on the this very blog when the Hub debuted.  My take at that time was despite the features and functions the Hub offered, all that mattered was price:

Sure, there is added value with all the interesting things the Hub can do. And the Hub arguably improves the overall end-user experience of fixed voice by improving the convenience of managing communications in the home. But the adoption curve of the Hub will remain particularly shallow in the current economy until such time as the up-front cash outlay for the device and handsets is reduced. Dropping the monthly recurring fee to bring it in line with other over-the-top VoIP services and below the going rate for cable voice service wouldn’t hurt, either.

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