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article imageOp-Ed: Vend a Kindle? Machine spits out Kindles in Las Vegas

By Paul Wallis     Jan 11, 2014 in Technology
Las Vegas - A vending machine for electronics does make sense, and this isn’t the first. It’s getting used to the idea that’s a little difficult. Amazon unveiled a new “Kindle dispenser” in Las Vegas this week.
Geekwire spotted one at Las Vegas airport. According to Geekwire:
The machines sell everything from the $379 Kindle Fire HDX to a $20 Kindle PowerFast adapter, in addition to Kindle e-readers and covers.
...An Amazon spokesperson tells us via email that the company has made the kiosks available at a variety of locations, including events, malls and airports. “We’re very happy with the customer response so far, and are excited to give customers (like you!) another easy way to purchase accessories and also Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets,” the spokesperson said.
Nothing like a fizzy response from a spokesperson to really reassure, is there? Reads like a pre-packaged statement from an ad.
Some might say this is just another example of the progressive dehumanizing process of sales, another space between consumers and their money. You can already hear the customers trying to find out who to talk to about faults.
That said, functionality does matter. If you think of Kindle as a universal medium, making it easy to get is the obvious move.
It’s also a method of selling direct to the public, a revenue issue. That also makes good business sense. Pity about the aesthetics and the similarity to snack bar vending, but the margins would be good. Buy a Mars bar and a Kindle, download a book, and set sail….?
The Amazon name was the main draw. The theory seems to be “max the exposure”, but some might say it’s yet another case of “access denial” for consumers, dehumanizing the buying process.
Wired had a different take on the Kindle vending machines:
The vending machine, you see, spits out the company’s Kindle e-reader tablet PCs, which is all it took to catch the attention of showgoers flying in and out of Vegas. It was Amazon’s way of taunting eager-beaver competitors who spent heavily to flog their devices to the CES masses. Like Apple, Amazon knows it will get attention for the smallest of moves. It didn’t even have to show up at CES.
But Amazon has made several moves recently to bulk up its reputation as the “everything store,” trying to persuade shoppers that it really is the place to buy, well, everything. Specifically, through efforts like Subscribe and Save and Amazon Fresh, Amazon wants to convince us it’s the best place to buy not just books and electronics but the everyday household stuff you would typically buy at the grocery store or the drugstore.
Ahem- And where would one find all the access one needs to these services? On one’s trusty Kindle, perhaps? As a broad spectrum marketing tool, Kindle is a potentially strong contender. It can build in multiple Amazon accounts, financial transactions, etc., and online shopping is hardly a difficult technical addition to a basic Kindle Fire. (It’s basic browsing. Add a built-in menu and it really couldn’t get a lot simpler.)
Wired also points out that Amazon isn’t “struggling” to sell Kindles. So this isn’t just about margins. The hardware outlay alone for these things would be pretty expensive. There has to be a lot more to it.
My bet would be that this is part of a new role for Kindle, taking it in to the mainstream world of being much more than a reader. That makes a lot of sense. Kindle’s weak point is that it’s seen as a reader only. As a multimedia/ broad spectrum media device, it could burn holes in the market quite easily.
Kindle doesn’t have anything like the processor grunt to compete with iPad, but it can do well as a dedicated device. It could become your direct link to Amazon, an instant fix when shopping. In that sense, it’s a great idea.
In fairness, and regardless of the reflexive cynicism, the theory is OK, it’s the practice that’s going to make or break it. It remains to be seen whether it will deliver in terms of macro marketing and megabucks, but it’s practical. Consumers will get at least some value in terms of convenience, access and simplicity of purchasing.
So the picture is this- You use your Kindle to buy whatever. An Amazon drone arrives, drops off your parcel, and soars majestically back to the warehouse.
Assuming it has the right order, goes to the right address, doesn’t get shot down by the neighbors, hit by a kid with a hose, or ambushed by the cat.
Yes, we have attained enlightenment.
Who ordered it?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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