One of the issue I have with that smart/dumb Forbes blog post about Amazon is that the author doesn't really seem very familiar with the operations of any of the retailers, especially Amazon.
This is further demonstrated in the comments, when a reader writes:
“Manage my Kindle” is a market-driven, easy-to-use, feature-rich platform that syncs one book on any Amazon device I pick up. Free enterprise says they won’t share that system with anyone else. Others will have to crack the code and make something that works with Amazon’s devices or sit back and watch the market leader continue to dominate.
Anyone can create and provide a Kindle-compatible ebook without going through Amazon’s Kindle store. Although Amazon is trying to create lock-in by providing a smooth end-to-end service, they are ultimately selling their Kindles at cost or at a loss in order to dominate the content market. That makes them vulnerable to disintermediation on content, which could then affect their Kindle hardware strategy.
Let's look at that logic: Amazon is making no money on its Kindles, because they want to promote e-book use. But their hardware strategy could be disrupted by competition by other e-books.
You know, their money-losing hardware strategy. It might be disrupted, and then they wouldn't lose money selling Kindle devices any more. Instead other companies would sell the many tablets, smart phones, and other devices that people would use to buy and read Amazon e-books, sparing the company the hassles of dealing with the hardware end of the business.
I'm sure that would break Amazon's little heart.
Another comment by this author show her to be very focused on Amazon's hardware, which I think is what happens when you read a lot of articles about Amazon, but you never actually buy e-books from them. That focus on the hardware end causes her to miss her reader's point: A Kindle e-book is substantially different from a Kindle-compatible Mobi file.
How is it different? To quote Diego Basch:
The Kindle is not a device; it's a platform. Besides the device itself, I use Kindle for Android, for the Mac, and even for the iPad sometimes. A great feature of the platform is that it synchronizes to the last page you've read on any connected device.
Yup! You just download a Kindle app on to your VARIOUS devices, and whichever one you use to buy an Amazon e-book, that e-book will be available on all of them, right where you left off reading it!
Take me: Let's say I'm sitting at my large desktop computer, and I realize that I'd like to grab a particular title. If I buy it on Amazon, it is automatically available on my cell phone, because I have a Kindle app there.
But if I buy it on Smashwords, or download it from Project Guttenburg, I have to e-mail it to myself to get it onto my phone. And then it's on the phone, taking up memory space. If I delete the book from my phone to free up space, it's gone, and if I want it again, I have to go find it.
In contrast, the Kindle e-book I purchase from Amazon is stored in the "cloud," available on any device I might have. It doesn't take up space on my phone until I download it there, and if I delete it off the phone, it's still right there in the "cloud." It literally takes me two clicks to get access to every single Amazon e-book I have ever bought, and they're not taking up any space on my little device.
That's pretty amazing. That is that "smooth end-to-end service" the author so readily dismisses.
And guess what? That's part of why when I try to give people my book on Smashwords, they'd rather pay for it on Amazon.
Someone pointed out to me that you can e-mail documents to the Amazon cloud, which I didn't know you could do. So, on the one hand, that might seem to obviate the advantage of Kindle e-books, if you ignore the fact that, you know, I didn't know you could do that--it's not something that's blatantly obvious. And if you are a retailer, and you are expecting customers to scroll through your competition's service details and sort out hacks that allow them to use the superior service your competition provides, well, then I think that makes my point for me, don't you?