Kindle grows with proximity

Hadfield Road in Cardiff is a haven for the car buyer. It’s just a mile long but straddling nearly every inch of it you’ll find over 20 car dealerships. This proximity to your competitors certainly isn’t unique – pub chains all gather together in city centres. So does the sex industry in London’s Soho, and jewellry in New York’s diamond district around 47th Street. All apply the same phenomenon of proximity.

A similar thing is happening with e-book readers. The iPad launched earlier this year and threatened to decimate existing readers like Sony’s Pocket Reader, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and, most notably, Amazon’s Kindle. But it appears to have done the opposite as sales of Kindle have trebled this year compared to the first half of 2009.

Amazon is now selling more E-books than they do hardbacks! Just think about that [undisclosed] number for a minute. In an interview with USA Today, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos said, “I predict we will surpass paperback sales sometime in the next nine to twelve months. Sometime after that, we’ll surpass the combination of paperback and hardcover. It stuns me.

They’re releasing a new Kindle at the end of August that’s smaller, lighter, better and half the cost. I don’t know if it can launch an artillery strike but it’s going to further enliven their product life cycle.

All this should remind us that the next time competitors threaten to join our market or emulate our products, we should wonder if we cant use proximity to grow the whole together, rather than needing to turn into cannibals. It’s another argument for the thoroughly modern co-opertition, not necessarily competition.

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