I have been with Forbes India since August 2008. I like writing about ideas, events and people at the intersection of business, society and technology. Prior, I was with Economic Times. I am based in Bangalore. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Amazon launches India Kindle Store, so what?
Amazon's announcements related to kindle yesterday were underwhelming. It made three: launch of India Kindle Store for ebooks, a tie-up with Croma to sell the device, and the launch of Kindle Direct Publishing for India, a platform for independent writers and publishers.
As far as I could see, the only new feature about Kindle India store (that was not available to customers earlier) is that the prices are mentioned in INR. But then, conversion between USD and INR is something most of us have learnt to do in our heads. So, what's the big deal? Nothing, really. However, its tie up with Croma to sell Kindle, Wi-Fi, 6" offers customers a better deal, compared to ordering it from India on Amazon. At today's rates, if I order it through Amazon online, I will have to pay over Rs 8000, even though it includes an import deposit of about Rs 1500. (The actual amount may be more or less than the deposit). If I buy the device at Croma, it's Rs 6999. But there's a downside. There is only one model right now - and it comes with no 3G, and a lower storage space compared to other versions. (It's a shame because Amazon's free 3G works well in India)
Now, one can argue that it's just a first step and that eventually Amazon's engagement will get deeper; it might price the books for India (than merely convert US prices to INR), and might even launch books in local languages. Last month, when Amazon revealed its strategy for Brazil, Badri Seshadri, co-founder of New Horizon Media, shared his views on how easy or difficult it will be for Amazon to do that in India. In summary, he said
a) to launch books in Indian languages, Amazon will have to tweak its platform, which might not be one of its priorities now; and
b) in print, Indian book prices are 50-70% lower than US/UK prices, and for e-books to succeed, the e-book pricing here must be at least 30% lower than the Indian print pricing.
We might have to wait a long time before that happens.
There might be some immediate action with respect to the third announcement: Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) for independent authors and publishers. "New features for authors and publishers in India include the ability to set prices specific for India, as well as receive royalty payments in rupees," a release said. But I am not sure how exactly this will pan out. Let us know what you think.
David Sacks Vs Marc Andreessen An FT column by Philip Delves Broughton, points to a fascinating discussion between David Sacks, who founded Yammer and sold it to Microsoft for $1.2bn earlier this year, and Marc Andreesen, co-founder of Netscape, and today a venture capitalist.
Let me just pull out two interesting comments from there:
David O Sacks: Human creativity has not changed, and there will always be new ideas and opportunities. But the question is, how many of those opportunities will be captured by startups versus incumbents? It seems like a statistical fact that when you go from virtually no incumbents to multiple well-run incumbents, an increasing percentage of opportunities will be captured by the latter. That's the point I'm making about Silicon Valley -- we may not be running out of ideas, but we might be running out of big new companies.
Marc Andreessen: My point -- the transformative things often don't look transformative at the start. At any given time it's easy to look at the industry and say, why are the entrepreneurs building toys, why aren't they going after the big opportunities. It usually turns out that after the fact they were going after the big opportunities, they just didn't look big at the time.
Read the entire conversation over at Sacks' facebook timeline
Also of interest: