On Slate, Farhad Manjoo is making a rather bold prediction concerning the pricing of Amazon’s Kindle. Only a short time after Jeff Bezos dropped the price to $189 and introduced a lower-priced wi-fi version for $139, Manjoo predicts Amazon will go even lower in time for the holiday season:

I rarely make predictions about the tech business, but here goes: Before the holidays, Amazon will cut the price of the Wi-Fi Kindle to $99, and the 3G version will go for $150 or less. Amazon will do so, I think, not only to sell a lot of Kindles but also to cement its online store as the iTunes for books—the dominant force in the publishing business for the foreseeable future. A $99 price tag will make the Kindle the hottest gift of the season—much cheaper than the $499 iPad, more useful than an Xbox Kinect, and a lot more fun than a cable-knit sweater.

The price drop will be possible, Manjoo believes, because the cost of producing e-ink screens has fallen dramatically since the Kindle was first introduced, and the wi-fi version can simply leave out the pricey $30 3G module of its bigger brother.

Also, competitors such as Copia are dropping their own prices, and Amazon also dropped the price on its Kindle for the holidays last year making the Kindle the “‘most-gifted’ item in the company’s history.”

And by dropping the price to $99, Amazon could cement its already considerable hold on the e-book business, given that $99 is one of those threshold prices that would get a lot of people to jump off the fence. (Maybe not as many as the $49 Kindle that Seth Godin wants, but baby steps are the way to get there.)

Will we see a $99 Kindle in time for Christmas? Good question. It would certainly rock the e-book market to have a big-name reader go that low. And it’s going to happen sooner or later—so from Bezos’s perspective, why not sooner?


  1. Anything is possible but it would be a tactical mistake to release a Kindle without a persistent connection. The unique value proposition is that every Kindle is an “on device, one click” away from the bookstore and social media. Amazon can afford to command a premium for the Kindle and should not devalue its core DNA attribute.

  2. It would temporarily boost sales, perhaps even rival the iPad for a month or so but after the holidays when folks try to connect and buy books they may resent having to search out hotspots in order to do so. If this happens, then Amazon would be betting heavily on the reduced price glossing over a multitude of inconsistent connections.

    On the positive side, such a move would likely expand the user base to include more seniors, students and other folks that already visit hot-spot saturated places (libraries, etc).

  3. The price is dropping folks. It’s no genius to predict that. At $99 it will be a huge boost to sales but it will still be only be to a teeny weeny percentage of all book reading public. The real explosion will come when the price drops to below $50 including sales tax.
    3G is a distraction, and for the techies. The overwhelming and vast majority of purchasers in future years, after the initial hype sales and first adopters, will buy the wifi only version. I see absolutely no need to have any flavour of constant connection other than wifi except for a tiny percentage of tech/instant gratification buyer. Choosing and buying in the comfort of one’s own home or hotel will be more than satisfactory for 90% of readers. Imho.

  4. I mis-read the note. A $99 WiFi Kindle is an OK idea but there is no need to drop prices. Amazon should do its shareholders a favour and collect the $40 extra they get for the $139 WiFi Kindle. Amazon has stated the e-reader hardware and e-book divisions are managed separately and both expected to be profit centres. If someone else makes a move, then Amazon may need to respond but for 2010, they ought to stick to premium pricing and enjoy the leadership position.

  5. I’m not picky, and will buy whichever quality ereader (Kindle, Nook, or Kobo) goes below $100 first. I’ll be getting one for me, one for hubby and one for my parents to share, so holding out for that price point does matter to me. I’d prefer a Kindle, but already use the Kindle app for my work Blackberry so I don’t have to worry about losing those Kindle exclusives. I only buy cheap ebooks ($5 or lower) and will only buy a cheap ereader.

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