Amazon sells digital goods. Lots of them: E-books, audio books, instant movies, online games, software, and now mobile apps. The digital goods that fly off the virtual shelves the most are those that can be easily purchased from the platform on which you consume those goods.
The Kindle was the first e-book reader to make it so ridiculously easy to buy and download digital books that the uptake was huge. Most readers who developed the Kindle habit increased their book purchasing metabolism by 2x to 5x. You don’t have to think about it. You’re reading something you like, and you just buy another book (or books) by the same author. In my case, I find prolific authors and I buy their entire works and read them in order. (I recommend Anne Rivers Siddons—an amazing writer and a satisfyingly prolific one!)
E-Books Sales Are Soaring. Spurred by the popularity of iPads, Kindles, and other e-book readers as holiday gifts, e-book sales (across all publishers and platforms) increased by 116% in January 2011 to $70 million. During the same month, adult paperback book sales dropped by 20%, and adult mass market paperback book sales dropped by 31%.
The result: Amazon is now selling more Kindle books than paperback books. Since the beginning of 2010, for every 100 paperback books Amazon has sold, the company has sold 115 Kindle books. In 2010, Amazon sold three times as many Kindle books as hardcover books.
This is a huge sea change! Many of us now prefer to buy our books in digital form, have them handy, and never run out!
Amazon Enters the Downloadable Phone App Market. On March 22nd, Amazon unveiled its Android Appstore. Apple promptly sued Amazon over its use of the term “App Store.” The name isn’t really important. What IS important is that Amazon saw and took the opportunity to out-maneuver Google and to compete more credibly with Apple’s iTunes for instant purchase and download of impulse buys—including smartphone apps. As with iTunes, you don’t actually have to “go to” Amazon.com using your browser to download free apps and/or to purchase Android apps from the Amazon store. You simply download the free “Amazon apps” app on your Android phone, and now you have two app stores at your fingertips: the chaotic and hard-to-navigate Google Android store or the familiar and easy-to-search Amazon one. Amazon’s Appstore for Android comes complete with the user ratings, reviews, and recommendations we’ve all come to trust, as well as your One-Click buying settings. It’s also synched with the rest of your Amazon buying history and supported by Amazon’s customer service.
Make the Amazon Appstore an Addictive Experience. If you want people to switch habits, you need to create a new habit. That’s why Amazon launched the Amazon Appstore by offering a different, popular paid application every day for free. App junkies will download the appstore app, get notifications of the featured free app every day, and go to check it out and maybe download it. This builds up the “download a new app every day” from the Amazon Appstore habit.
Next Up: AppStore for ALL OSs. I don’t expect Amazon to stop with an Android Appstore. I expect that we’ll soon see Apps for RIM, Apple, HP, Microsoft/Nokia, and any other mobile platform. In fact, it makes sense to be able to find the app you want and then download whichever form factors you may need. For example, I have an Apple iPad, MacBook, and a RIM Blackberry. I run many of the same apps on all three platforms. Why wouldn’t I want to be able to find, download, buy, and/or upgrade those apps from an Appstore that would let me manage them all?