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Ads & King Lear: A Partnership for the Future?

A Partnership for the Future?Amazon recently released its new Kindle e-book reader to a flurry of tepid reviews. If you've currently got three hardcovers in your bag, you might be interested in the Kindle but if not, what interest does Amazon's new product hold? This week Knowledge@Wharton asks just this of marketing professor Peter Fader, senior director of information technology, Don Huesman, and management professor, Dan Raff. So what insights did this panel of experts come up with?

First off, though none of the experts was overly thrilled about the device itself. Huesman notes:

This particular device doesn't show that innovation. It has a single use; it doesn't have the collection of features that would make people want to carry around an additional device.
The business model behind it did spark their interest, however. Fader notes that the heart of the matter is the service, the ability to provide the content on demand anywhere at anytime, and underlines that that decoupling content and the medium by which it's provided may be the way of the future. The Kindle may not be the way the market settles on to accomplish that decoupling but the device, Fader notes, does have its uses right now:
if [Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos] had only announced the service and not the device, he wouldn't have gotten nearly the attention. So, I think that using the device is, in some sense a loss leader.
All the experts agree that the business model is in its infancy. So what might the future look like? How about King Lear with ads? In response to a question about whether e-books may be ad-supported in the future, Fader replies:
Why not? People would just cringe in horror at the idea of ads showing up next to some passages from King Lear. But, I think that Google has shown that you can have ads in there and people either don't seem to notice or mind.
The interview goes on to discuss other possible future models including subscription services, and a Netflix like book queue, as well as what Bezos did right and what he did wrong with this launch. Also discussed: the ever looming presence of Google and the impact of these developments on content producers. Well worth a read.

(Image of Amazon Kindle by karendalziel, CC 2.0)

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