Today, Amazon delivered invites to an event being held at the New York Times former headquarters in the City. Amazon doesn’t hold a lot of these, so speculation is something new is coming. This new thing is purported to be the savior of the flailing newspaper world. Even better, it might actually work.
The idea isn’t new. In fact, Kindle owners can digitally subscribe to newspapers right now at reasonable rates. Just how many take advantage of this is kept secret by Amazon. Many e-ink readers are scheduled to make it to market by year’s end. Amazon looks to get a jump on them.
The economics make solid sense. By getting the newspaper companies out of the paper and printing business, they’ll be able to deliver their content with very little overhead. The newspapers would be saving millions of dollars. Think of the recycling plants not getting all that paper each week.
But who is the customer? No longer can Fido fetch the paper. No longer will neighbors take delight in seeing me in my pajamas, scampering to the end of my driveway for a paper that is probably soaked. Will my non-techie neighbors make the switch? Can they comprehend that this little box magically has tomorrow’s paper already inside it?
The answers on adoption lies with one question: Is the price right? I’ve mentioned before that I believe the Kindle ought to be free, and charge for content. Providing would-be customers with the means to buy from you seems like a no-brainer. Take the savings from not having to print and deliver paper, and use it to subsidize the device from Amazon with a two year commitment to subscribe to the NY Times. Easy enough right?
A simple App Store of sorts that the device hooks up to can show off other titles where Amazon gets a cut would round out the picture for Amazon. Using the model of the cell phone world, Amazon could even charge a small monthly fee for connectivity if they wanted more. I still believe consumers would go for it, provided there was no cost up front.
Only by lowering the entry costs to consumers will an e-reader take over for paper and print. Make it easy, simple and impressive and customers will make the move. Charge $100+ and we’ll have forgotten about this next week.
Source: [NY Times]