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Jobs: Amazon hiding poor Kindle sales

updated 07:35 pm EDT, Wed September 9, 2009

Jobs on Kindle, iPod nano camera, health

Apple chief Steve Jobs today took shots at Amazon while also explaining some of the decisions behind the new new iPods and his own health. The co-founder is famous for having attacked Amazon's Kindle in the past but has now said that the e-book reader's main flaw its specialized role: its cost is too high for a single function, Jobs said. He moreover suggested to the Times that Amazon's refusal to provide definite numbers for Kindle sales was a sign it hasn't succeeded in the market.

"I'm sure there will always be dedicated devices, and they may have a few advantages in doing just one thing," Jobs explained. "But I think the general-purpose devices will win the day because I think people just probably aren't willing to pay for a dedicated device. You notice Amazon never says how much they sell; usually if they sell a lot of something, you want to tell everybody."

He also noted that Amazon's primary business is in online retail, not handheld devices, and that the company likely isn't counting on strong sales.

Jobs continued by providing important color regarding the decision to ship the third-generation iPod touch without a camera. He revealed that the goal of reaching the $199 price point trumped adding some extra features and that Apple views the iPod touch as the "lowest-cost way to the App Store," making price even more important. The statements imply that a prototype iPod touch leaked last month is a sign the company changed its stance partway through development.

The iPod nano can only shoot video as a sharp-enough sensor for photos, including with autofocus, would reportedly be too big to fit into the design.

Wrapping up the discussion, Jobs said he now feels "great" after recovering from his liver transplant in the spring but that he still needs to gain weight to return to normal.

"I'm eating like crazy," he said. "A lot of ice cream."

by MacNN Staff



  1. chefpastry

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Closing comment

    His closing comment about feeling great and eating lots of ice cream makes me happy.

  1. slider

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Yep, It's a Niche Market

    Sure, you can read a book on a backlit display. Give SJ's comments on multi-fuction vs dedicated devices and the much rumored Apple tablet, he's thinking of something like a reader app much like what's on the iPhone now. But, when it comes to reading books, a backlit display is not ideal and no serious hardcore reader would read digital books on such a device. So yes, the kindle and all digital readers using digital ink are a niche market, but it is a market. I'm sure Amazon makes pretty good money on each book sold without a lot of the traditional overhead. I doubt they are "losing" money.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    what, a company hide information?

    Steve Jobs you horses patoot.

    When was the last time Apple broke out desktop unit sales? oh yes, because you are hiding the poor sales....

    well what about exact profit margins on the iPhone deal with AT&T, hiding the poor deal you made with AT&T?

    Or maybe, just maybe Amazon is keeping a competitive advantage.

    Besides everyone knows they sold about a million units...not too shabby, still a nascent market, though.

  1. cmoney

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Here, I fixed that for you.

    The iPod nano can only shoot video, as a sensor sharp-enough for photos, including autofocus, would reportedly be too big to fit into the design.

  1. Inkling

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Limp excuse

    "He revealed that the goal of reaching the $199 price point trumped adding some extra features..."

    That doesn't wash Steve. Prices for the touch go as high as $400. There's already a major split between the low end and the pricer two. There's no reason the latter two couldn't have had a camera. And the $149 Nano has a camera, wimpy as it is. Also, if you regard $400 as a "low cost way to the App Store, you make way too much money to understand us.

    And besides that, TechCrunch estimated that in the quantities you'd be buying, the component cost for the camera was a mere $10. You'd sell a lot more touches at $210 with a camera than at $199 without.

    Maybe Apple just made a big marketing blunder. Maybe they hit some production glitch and had to step back to an alternative design. Maybe it's the typical Apple behavior of starving features to make people pay more or upgrade sooner. Maybe Apple is just greedy.

    Whatever it is, it has left a lot of us ticked off. I was going to get a touch this week. I'm now planning to get a first-generation iPhone used. I'll have a phone I can use with T-Mobile. I'll have a mike, I'll have a camera, and, most important of all, I won't be encouraging you to do this sort of stunt again.

    I might add that this is Apple's culture of secrecy turning around and biting. You can get away with concealing new features. It wows a crowd with 'one more thing.' But when you let the rumors offer far more than you can deliver, you get the anti-wow.

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    poor kindle sales!

    Well, as Steve feels free to comment on the poor sales figures (or not) of competitors, he should strap himself in for some poor sales figures of his own. Touch figures are about to take a serious year on year nose-dive. Perhaps they don't really care as the iPhone cash cow now accounts for 35% of Apple's total revenue but you can only pull the udder one for so long. Milking customers is a short-term strategy and feeding them bull about meeting certain price points is as embarrassing as it is insulting. Is it impossible for corporations to be honest with their customers, particularly an institution with as loyal a fan-base as Apple enjoys? If there were problems with the delivery of the camera-enabled Touch, fess-up and strap in for a huge return when you actually meet the pent-up demand in a month or two. Alternative, lying and building mistrust drives customers elsewhere in a "devil-you-know" kind of way. Today, Apple and Steve Jobs did Microsoft a huge and undeserved favour. Who knows whether the Zune HD will have people flying over the moon but right now the Touch is the brown t***.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I guess Steve must be eating

    a lot of low-fat ice cream. He should start eating yogurt with plenty of fruit and add some Nutrament to his diet just to keep up his energy levels. Maybe it's too early to start adding some pounds to his frame. I'm almost scared to find out what his weight is. I'd estimate 140 to 145 lbs. Well, as long as he's healthy, that should be good enough.

    I'm also wondering about a possible production glitch with the Touch camera modules. I guess as an investor, I'm willing to justify anything. I'm thinking that in a few months Apple might offer an upgraded Touch with a camera, but that's just wishful thinking. It looks like I'll be buying the 64 GB Touch since it will meet my demands with more memory and a faster processor and I won't feel cheated if they do introduce a video recording version. I'm not paying much attention to blogger rumors so I'm not as disappointed as many others might be. I think it is rather likely Apple is holding back features on its devices to keep buyers coming back for more in a short time. As an investor, if the strategy works, I'll accept it.

    I don't think the new Touch (missing rumored features) will be trumped by the Zune HD at all. As long as those multitude of apps are sitting in the App Store, the iPod Touch will own the PMP market.

  1. pt123

    Joined: Dec 1969


    refusing to provide numbers

    Hey, isn't that why Apple doesn't provide sales numbers for AppleTV? To hide its lack of success.

  1. lurkerdude

    Joined: Dec 1969


    general purpose

    That comment dismissing single-purpose devices is hilarious, considering this is the company that created the 5 GB iPod... and what was the price for that?

    But I think he's partially right. It's not quite the general-purpose devices that will win the day -- it's the devices that do one thing exceedingly well, and a bunch of other things well enough. I don't want five of the best devices in my pocket, no matter how small they are. It just remains to be seen if the nano's camera and radio is "good enough" -- probably, I'm guessing.

    If I were flip video, I'd start looking at what extra c*** I can throw into my products.

  1. chas_m



    Kindle owner agrees.

    As a Kindle owner, I'm forced to agree with Steve's comments. The device is nice, you bet, but WAY overpriced for what it does, and while I suspect it's sold better than the Zune, that's not saying much.

    He's ABSOLUTELY right that if the Kindle were selling well and/or making Amazon a bunch of money, they'd be sure to let everyone know. They haven't, and their silence speaks volumes.

    As for pt123's trollish comment, Apple has already stated (numerous times) that the AppleTV is a "hobby," ie sales are not the goal there (at least, not yet). The AppleTV does the five or six things it does INCREDIBLY well, but it's kind of answer for a problem that most people don't consider a problem (at least, not yet) so it hasn't done well, but it's done better than any of its competitors.

    If Amazon admitted the Kindle was a "hobby," you might have a point. But they don't, so you don't.

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