Kindle news: pricing, business models and ... source code?

Speaking at Wired's 'Disruptive by Design' conference this week, Amazon's Jeff Bezos shared some thoughts on the Kindle, both as hardware and as business model. He told Wired's Steven Levy that Amazon had considered selling the Kindle using a plan similar to a cell phone: subsidize the upfront costs but enter the buyer into a contract to buy x books per month, or even require a monthly subscription. Instead, they opted to sell the Kindle for "something akin to the actual cost for hardware" claiming that "fees and minimum purchase requirements create friction," according to a post at Wired. I'm not sure I agree in this case. If I'm buying a Kindle from Amazon that enables me to buy books from Amazon, I'm broadcasting a desire to buy Kindle books. I would welcome some subsidization of the hardware since I'm going to be buying content anyway. No, I really think Amazon priced the Kindle the way they did because they thought they could get away with doing so (and they were right, it would seem). Over in the New York Times, Bezos is talking business models (this info is also coming out of 'Disruptive by Design'). He says that he sees Kindle-the-device and Kindle-the-book-format as two separate business models, and that the Kindle iPhone App won't be the last software reader to appear:

“The device team has the job of making the most remarkable purpose-built reading device in the world,” Mr. Bezos said. “We are going to give the device team competition. We will make Kindle books, at the same $9.99 price points, available on the iPhone, and other mobile devices and other computing devices.”

That's good news, and I'd love to see Amazon do something like Scribd does and offer an online reader for your Amazon-purchased e-books. That way, any web browser in any device suddenly becomes a Kindle-device. And one last bit of Kindle news. There was a flurry of blogging activity yesterday stating that Amazon had released the Kindle source code. Once everyone caught their breath, it became apparent that the files in question were just some open source libraries that Amazon had modified (they're being good open source citizens and releasing mods they've made to open source code – good for them!), not the complete source code. Further, the files corresponding to the Kindle and Kindle 2 had been posted for some time, and only the Kindle DX files were new. Many a red-faced Update on blog posts yesterday!

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