Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Seeing Is Believing...Again

As part of that "See a Kindle in Your City" campaign I wound up connecting with another prospective Kindle customer at a local Starbucks last night. (My wife thinks this is kind of creepy and wonders if I'll get abducted doing it one day...) This guy's eyes lit up when he saw the device in person. In other words, he had the same reaction everyone has had when they first see my Kindle. I told him he should also check out the Sony Reader at the Target across the street. Like others I've mentioned this to, he also had no idea they were being sold at Target.

A week ago I mentioned the idea of Amazon partnering with Starbucks to sell the device in all their coffee shops. My new Kindle buddy thought that was a good idea but figured neither party would want to have all that inventory spread across the zillions of Starbucks around the country. Good point. So why not just have a demo unit or two on display for customers to check out firsthand? Be sure to either configure it or the store registers to allow customers to order one on the spot.

There's no instant gratification in this model, you say? Well, hasn't Amazon fought that battle since day one? Customers won't get their Kindles till the next day, but that's the way every Amazon order already works...and at least with this model more and more people will finally see this excellent device in person.


Timothy said...

I doubt that inventory spread out across the country is a reason to hold back. After all, doesn't Starbucks already spread out their inventory of CDs, games, and rather expensive coffee machines? Amazon does the same thing, though on a much smaller scale, by having shipping centers all over the country.

The design of the packaging (and even the battery cover) is very Starbucksesque. They were made for each other.

The only thing that could possibly even be the problem is Starbucks' contract with Apple -- which I have no idea what limits that has, but being that the Kindle is still an MP3-capable device and the "success" of the iPhone eReader, it could be seen as competition.

However, I still agree that Starbucks would be a great retailer of the Kindle. How about free Kindle books/stories of the week cards, much like they already do with iTunes. Or, how about Kindle Gift Cards, where we can get a discounted price on a book for buying the card from Starbucks and then redeeming it at the Kindle store? Or how about using that built-in GPS function to detect your presence at a Starbucks so that Starbucks can get a commission on customers that buy their books from the Kindle store at a Starbucks (basically, the affiliates program gone brick-and-mortar).

Joe Wikert said...

Excellent points, Timothy, especially the various card ideas.

Michael A. Banks said...

Tandy was in the same situation with their first computer in 1977. Definitely no instant gratification for customers. There were no demos, unless a manager paid for a unit out of his own pocket. So you had to order a computer from a catalog--and there were only 3,000 units available to 3,500 Radio Shack stores.

Surprise: people lined up to buy TRS-80 Model I's ... 55,000 during the first year. And some traveled several hundred miles to lay down their money.

So: there's a precedent for selling an untried product from a demo unit.

The TRS-80 inventory shortfall was the result Tandy's lack of confidence in the product. (That soon evaporated.) I doubt that Amazon and Sony suffer from as big a lack of confidence, but there's still caution.