In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
Amazon’s Kindle, a portable, wireless reader, offers book titles that download in 60 seconds. Consumers can download content without plugging the reader into a computer.
Amazon.com has unveiled Amazon Kindle, an on-demand book reader three years in development. In a process that does not require the use of a personal computer, the portable reader, about the size of a small paperback, can wirelessly download books in less than a minute. It can also automatically receive subscribed newspapers, magazines and blogs, according to Amazon.
The downloads are made possible by Amazon Whispernet, a proprietary wireless delivery system that uses the same national high-speed data network used by advanced cell phones. Kindle users shop the Kindle store via the reader, and download books and other content without even having to find a Wi-Fi hotspot, according to Amazon.
The reader’s high-resolution text display resembles what the users would see on real paper, even in bright sunlight, Amazon says. The text display can be adjusted to six different font sizes, enabling older readers for instance to read larger type.
Each wireless reader can hold at least 200 titles -- more with the purchase of an additional memory card. Kindle users who purchase digital books can store them in a personal library on Amazon.com to make way for new titles. Kindle users also can receive e-mailed Word documents and photos at a dedicated address on their reader, at a charge of ten cents each.
Some 90,000 books are already available in the Kindle store, including more than 100 of the current 112 New York Times best sellers and new releases. Book titles are available for $9.99 while the reader itself lists at $399. Magazine and newspaper subscriptions are delivered to the portable device reader at monthly rates ranging from $1.25 to $14.99; blog subscriptions start at 99 cents per month. There are no monthly service fees as with cell phone plans because Amazon pays for the connectivity.
“Our top design objective was for Kindle to disappear in your hands – get out of your way – so you can enjoy your reading,” says Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos. “We also wanted to go beyond the physical book. Whether you are lying in bed, or riding a train, you can think of a book and have it in less than 60 seconds.”
Amazon has made no comment as to whether Kindle as a new communication channel with customers represents a future advertising opportunity. Jupiter Research Inc. analyst Patti Freeman Evans notes one question that arises is whether Amazon will earn revenue from the additional exposure advertisers in the newspapers and magazines receive when consumers download that content to the reader. Freeman Evans did not speculate on whether Amazon has plans for third-party advertising on the device, but adds that the new product represents one of many different potential opportunities Amazon has to create revenue streams
Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.