Amazon’s Kindle, and now its tablet Fire, are great illustrations of a new business truth. The kudos and plaudits go to Jeff Bezos and Amazon, but in fact the Kindle is as much about a huge ecosystem of writers as it is about the hardware (and a daring strategy). Here is an extraordinary customer ecosystem – not readers but authors. And the truth is every business needs a customer ecosystem as part of its overall platform and business ecosystem strategy.
Until the Kindle, Amazon was basically a marketing platform. An extraordinary one, of course, emerging too as a Cloud service infrastructure.
But with the Kindle Amazon stepped into a different realm of strategy. Not only did it become a publisher. It also became now a serious platform business, managing an ecosystem of writers and, soon, apps developers.
The developers we’ve seen before – creating a new model army of creatives though. That is special.
Here’s a question: Did Kindle really make e-publishing or did the writers come first?
Did one device create the self-published industry or was there huge pent-up creativity looking for an outlet?
One of the first self-published authors, Amanda Hocking, wrote about vampires and sold over 100,000 copies per month. Hocking illustrates many hidden truths of the new business climate. Customers are creative. Creative people are closer to a wider range of strong market niches than companies ever can be. Clearly, before Hocking, the publishing world was not supplying the vast appetite for vampire books.
Amazon’s smartest move was to create the conditions for creative people to fail or succeed, at ultra low-cost. It took the right bet on pent-up demand – not just for reading particular types of content, but for writing and publishing it.
Creative people form an invaluable business ecosystem. Platforms that support the exploitation of widely diffused creative talent can be hugely successful. Before Kindle, publishers treated those people with disdain – they were the slush pile. Post-Kindle we have a new market in taste created by a new ecosystem for taste.