Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Putting In A Call To Stephen King

Here is the logic and the inevitable conclusion. As Amazon is the world's largest bookseller, and Amazon is going to start making mobile phones, then Amazon's phone will be used to ring up authors. Or audio books. Either way, it's got to be what they're planning with electronics manufacturer HTC.

The new phone would have to do something to set it apart from all the rest, and with Amazon's reach into the book market, there must surely be a connection. Possibly a voice mail message from Stephen King, asking the caller to leave a message? Or a ring tone featuring Colm Toibin sighing as he loses out on the Man Booker when it appeared to be in his grasp? And to an author who is nearly a child, not yet thirty years of age.

Business gurus see the move as an attempt by Amazon to compete against Apple and Google in devices other than e-readers. The smart phone is pushing e-readers aside, in that it can act as an e-reader but multi-task. Kindles are useful for a single purpose, and as that single purpose declines, Amazon would want to be prepared to move into the next niche.

As you'd expect, everyone involved in a potential new product is keeping quiet. There is no point in creating buzz in the market before the product is fully tested and ready for sale, especially if bugs and kinks have to be worked out. Tech types hearing rumours of problems with the phone would generate a different sort of buzz that would harm a genuine launch.

The phone would come with the Kindle app, without a doubt, along with the usual navigation tools, e-mail boxes and of course a contact list for the end user.

And for those who buy the priciest version, might there be a contact pre-loaded, a nice little perk for those leaving Apple's camp for an untried purveyor of smart phones? Who is your favorite living author, Amazon might ask as you sign up for the pre-sale, or maybe it will become a question inserted into your Amazon Prime account. Who would you like to be able to call and discuss literature, editing, plot devices or grammar?

What about Amazon Prime members?

The phone could be yet another benefit for those who sign up, something even more useful than free shipping.

Offer that, Apple or Google, if you can. But you know you can't. All the old dinosaur mobile phone companies can do is computer related. Only Amazon controls the book market, and by association, controls the authors.

You don't think if Amazon told Stephen King to take a call from some starry-eyed fan who paid a huge amount of money for the new Amazon smartphone that he wouldn't do it? There would be no doubt, especially after all the Stephen King books mysteriously disappeared from Amazon's website and the bean-counters informed him of how much he needs Amazon to reach his audience.

Assuming, of course, that Amazon and their partner HTC can develop a gadget that works as smoothly as an Apple iPhone. There is a reason that the iconic smartphone continues to sell in large numbers. Even a phone call from Stephen King can't help sales if the device is hard to use, or the keypad is slow to respond to touch, or the phone is too heavy or too thick or the battery life is painfully short.

Amazon cannot just put out a phone and expect people to buy it because it's coming from Amazon in a box with a smile on it. There has to be something unique, something to attract an audience that is already oversupplied with smartphones. It just makes sense, doesn't it? The link between books and phones?

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