Amazon announced in June it will be exiting China. The company didn’t offer any reasons as such for the move though it shouldn’t be hard to guess what might have gone wrong. Amazon had earlier stated China happens to be a crucial market for its business given the sheer size of it as well as the growing trends among the population to adopt digital forms of reading.
All of this should be enough of a justification for any company to continue doing business in the region though Amazon still chose to move out. The reason for that is varied and becomes evident the more you dig deep into the Chinese way of doing things as well as the usual conditions that enable Amazon to flourish elsewhere in the world. For one, there are more competitors for Amazon in China than it might have ever dealt with in the past.
There are a plethora of companies that have emerged off late and have nice e-readers or e-notes to offer. Brands such as Boyue, Onyx Boox, iReader, iFlytek, Hanvon, and so on have started to make their mark in the segment with innovative E Ink devices. The Chinese companies also perhaps are the ones that deserve accolades for popularizing the concept of e-notes that are basically tablet devices with note taking capability and featuring an E Ink display.
Also, the e-readers in general and e-notes, in particular, came to offer excellent features that make them great learning or business aids. Such devices are turned out to be extremely efficient in an office environment as well. No wonder, e-notes quickly became popular among students, teachers, researchers, business users, office goers, and such. So, while there emerged a huge market for e-notes, Amazon continues to remain aloof from the developments here.
So, what’s wrong with the Kindle e-readers? None as such as those are great devices and anyone who has already subscribed to the Amazon ecosystem will love being part of the system. Unfortunately, that is also not how the majority of Chinese like things to be. Most e-readers or e-notes sold in China leave it to the buyers to install the e-reader platform of their choice to continue with their reading.
That is unthinkable with the Kindle where one can only source content from the Amazon channel. While Amazon offers the world’s largest e-book and audiobook collection, that perhaps lost its appeal in the face of intense competition that offers e-readers and e-notes at competitive rates. Most such devices have an open system where users are able to install third party apps as well. Also, unlike the Kindle, such devices are able to read almost all file formats.
In the face of it, the humble Kindle almost got translated into a niche device that is great in what it does, but you need to be part of a walled garden to make the most of it. The advent of color E Ink displays such as the Kaleido 3 made things all the more interesting. There already is a clutch of e-readers and e-notes sporting color E Ink displays though here again, Amazon is not part of the game.
Amazon continues to offer the Kindle Paperwhite or the basic Kindle and the Oasis. All of it is monochrome and are more evolutionary than anything revolutionary as such. There isn’t anything that offers color, or pen support. In other words, the Amazon Kindle portfolio has remained much the same as it has been years ago.
So, is the Kindle losing its charm? Maybe yes even though the device continues to be a solid performer and an excellent e-book reading device. Fortunately for Amazon, most of the e-readers and e-notes produced in China remained confined to their country, which means Kindle won’t have the same level of competition elsewhere as it does in China.
Amazon’s relative silence on the entire development apart from the usual PR-esque messages – ‘We remain committed to our customers in China. As a global business, we periodically evaluate our offerings and make adjustments, wherever we operate.’ – is intriguing too. Whether or not it is an indication of something cooking in the Amazon camp remains to be seen. For who knows, Amazon might be working to surprise us with a brilliant new e-note anytime soon.
With a keen interest in tech, I make it a point to keep myself updated on the latest developments in technology and gadgets. That includes smartphones or tablet devices but stretches to even AI and self-driven automobiles, the latter being my latest fad. Besides writing, I like watching videos, reading, listening to music, or experimenting with different recipes. The motion picture is another aspect that interests me a lot, and I'll likely make a film sometime in the future.