Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Amazon Says Many Use Kindles for Reading, Tablets for Games, Movies, Browsing

One wonders how many more mobile gadgets people are willing to carry around with them, and how many of the newer devices might be something less than fully mobile products, in terms of usage, if not design.

According to Amazon.com, in fact, "We're seeing that many of the people who are buying Kindles also own an LCD tablet. Customers report using their LCD tablets for games, movies, and web browsing and their Kindles for reading sessions," says Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com CEO.

At least for the moment, that raises an interesting question. Until the time that prices for tablets drop much further than current levels, discretionary income is going to be a barrier for many, perhaps most, consumers weighing the value a tablet can provide. Up to this point, early and well-heeled individuals and people who are not paying for their devices have driven iPad sales, for example.

But at current prices, an iPad can be an expensive way to watch movies, do some casual browsing or play games, when all those things can be done on PCs and other devices, especially if the reading function is largely offloaded to a Kindle or other e-reader.

Bezos says the low price of a Kindle makes choices unnecessary. "Kindle's $139 price point is a key factor," says Bezos. "It's low enough that people don't have to choose" between a tablet and an e-reader.

That people will buy and use multiple devices isn't so much a surprise. The bigger issue is that there probably are limits to the use cases. Most people take their phones everywhere. Traveling business people sometimes carry PCs or tablets. Lots of people carry iPods. But there are practical limits to how many devices people will carry with them everywhere.

That suggests some newer categories of mobile devices won't actually be used in mobile fashion, but rather simply "untethered," as with PCs and gaming devices that are Internet-connected in the home. There are implications.

Internet-connected devices can function perfectly well using Wi-Fi. Mobile devices work lots better, one might argue, with a full-time mobile broadband connection. That, in turn, drives purchases of mobile broadband services.

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