A few years ago, people laughed at Amazon’s Kindle, especially its clunky hardware design and CEO Jeff Bezos’s breathless rhetoric about how it would change how customers bought and experienced media. Now that we’re getting closer to the unveiling of Amazon’s long-rumored, slickly designed multimedia tablet, nobody’s laughing any more.
Amazon has swiftly become the most disruptive company in the media and technology industries. Its potential in this space is simply off the charts: bigger than Apple’s, bigger than Google’s or Microsoft’s. It’s becoming a purer version of all three.
Amazon’s competitors are mostly software companies focused on a small number of tent-pole products that they then market to consumers or enterprise. Amazon is a company focused on selling anything and everything, from mass-market paperbacks to infrastructure-as-a-service, or IaaS. In order to do that, it’s become a major technology powerhouse, from shipping, sourcing and logistics in its warehouses to the software that powers its web site and e-readers.
The Kindle isn’t a book. It’s a bookstore. The Kindle tablet extends that principle further, by making it a retail portal and showcase for everything Amazon sells, whether physical or virtual.
It’s a mistake to underestimate where Amazon could take this, or to try to put the company in a box. Even though I’ve been pretty bullish on Amazon over the last few months, I’ve been guilty myself of underestimating what it might do.