No question, for me, about the most interesting business story of the week: the launch in India of a $35 tablet computer called the Aakash (“sky” in Hindi). For perspective, go to the tablet department of Walmart.com, where $35 will buy you – just – a snap-on case for an iPad 2.
For anyone in doubt about the political significance of the announcement, Kapil Sibal, India’s education minister, rammed it home:
The rich have access to the digital world; the poor and ordinary have been excluded. Aakash will end that digital divide.
Since he kept on repeating it, there was no difficulty in working out what Jeff Bezos regarded as the most important aspect of the Kindle Fire launch in New York this morning.
Mr Bezos gave a little smirk as he announced the $199 price of his new competitor to the Apple iPad – and to the entire ecosystem of films, music, magazines and books that can appear on Apple’s device:
“This is unbelievable value. We are building premium products at non-premium prices. We are determined to do that, and we are doing it.”
There is something strange about the idea of publishers’ attempts to resist the e-book price-setting power of Amazon being investigated by the Connecticut attorney-general.
Given Amazon’s dominance of e-books through its Kindle device and software (it claimed this week to have 80 per cent of the market), it seems like the obvious target for anti-trust concern rather than the weak and divided publishing industry.
On the face of it, the initiative by Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut attorney-general, is aimed at Amazon and Apple, which is publishing e-books for the iPad and iPod through its iBook service. In practice, however, Amazon would be pleased if he broke the “agency” pricing model. Read more
Frédéric Filloux has a smart prediction on the Monday Note (a recommended weekly email about media and technology, by the way) about how the iPad and tablet computers could change the book business and help longer-form journalism.
I have a couple of thoughts about it. Read more