Yesterday I shared my thoughts about the Apple iPad. It’s the most-discussed business-slash-technology issue in years, and good or bad, bright future or dull, people are talking about it; on Twitter, the iPad was mentioned over a half-million times in the twenty-four hours after its announcement.
I believe the success of the iPad isn’t about its technological guts, nor even about whether its high sexiness quotient gets people to buy it; the iPad will sink or swim on the business relationships it creates or changes.
Suddenly struggling to maintain some voice, I present the Amazon Kindle. It’s the reigning delivered-paid-content champion, and many people with opinions about the iPad have pointed out that Apple is going after Amazon.com’s lunch with their new tablet. Apple even went so far as to demonstrate their new deal with The New York Times at the iPad introduction.
It’s going to be difficult for single-purpose devices like the Kindle to remain relevant when we can do everything from one. I can already read e-books on my Droid, for example, as can iPod users on their phones, so why would I need to carry a Kindle?
Amazon recently announced something that could impact the answer to that question. Last week, the Internet’s largest retailer started paying publishers and authors a higher portion of the revenue they collect when Kindle-based copies of the books are sold.
While you as the reader probably don’t care whether the money you spend goes to the author or the distributor, authors care a great deal. In turning on this business change, Amazon is doing what they can to keep the publishing community in their camp. Apple, notorious for ruling the iTunes store—and that’s where they sell books, movies, and all other forms of content in addition to music—with an iron fist, will have to decide whether they need to change the way they do business.
The iPad’s survival depends on Apple making the right decision. What business change do you have to get right to ensure you’re still with us next year?