Photo: Dan Frommer, Business Insider
Here’s a new way to think about Amazon’s Kindle, to put it in perspective with the iPad and other tablets. It’s becoming an accessory, not just a dedicated e-reading device.OK, it’s not an accessory in the same sense that a pair of earbuds are — it’s not worthless without a “host” device. The Kindle is capable on its own, and many will use it that way.
But the Kindle is now inexpensive enough (and getting cheaper), and light and compact enough, that it’s reasonable to consider it an accessory to an iPad, or other larger, heavier tablet. Or even as a larger accessory to a smartphone.
Ultimately, we think the tablet market — iPads, Android tablets, etc. — will be bigger and more mainstream than the market for dedicated e-book devices like the Kindle. Tablets are the new laptops, just easier to use, and they’ll be in every living room. And the smartphone market is already many times larger than tablets and e-readers, and will continue to be.
That’s why Amazon is smart to sell Kindle e-books on every tablet and smartphone platform it can, via its excellent apps. But that’s also why it’s not a bad idea for Amazon to start thinking of the Kindle device as a tablet accessory, too.
You may not take it everywhere. But when having the lightest bag possible isn’t the only consideration, it’s possible that you would carry around both an iPad and a Kindle, even though the iPad can do many of the things a Kindle does.
One reason is that the Kindle’s benefits — a screen that works great outdoors in the sun, insanely long battery life, free 3G access, lower replacement cost if it’s damaged or stolen — can outweigh its modest bulk. And this way, you can read on the Kindle while a video — or email, or Scrabble, or Twitter, or music, or whatever — plays on the iPad that’s right next to you.
Another is that it is cheap enough for many people to own both a Kindle and an iPad, with the Kindle’s price expected to continue to fall.
Especially now as companies like Carphone Warehouse — a U.K. mobile phone retailer, partly owned by Best Buy — start giving Kindles away for free as accessories to customers who buy new phones and sign new, long-term mobile contracts.
And here’s some more evidence that the Kindle is becoming an accessory to plenty of people: Some 24% of people surveyed while waiting in line last Friday to buy an iPad 2 owned a Kindle, according to Piper Jaffray. That’s up from 13% of original iPad buyers the year prior.
Heck, maybe the Apple Store should start selling Kindles — in the iPad accessories section.
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