The entire world remembers the iPhone’s unveiling on January 9, 2007, as the game-changing moment in the world of technology. But during that same year, Amazon announced the Kindle, the first generation of the device that would change the way we read and publish eBooks.
While it wasn’t the first dedicated device to read eBooks, the Kindle was definitely the finest eReader that existed at the time. Strategically, the first Kindle played a huge role in shaping the Seattle-based Amazon of today. It was Amazon’s entry into a new hardware product category, at a time when the company was still known for selling books online.
The story behind the development of the original Kindle is fascinating. Here are some facts:
In late 1997, NuvoMedia founders Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning pitched the idea of an e-Reader to Jeff Bezos. They developed a prototype version which was called Rocketbook and showed it to Bezos and his senior executives in Seattle. Bezos seemed to like the e-Reader but wasn’t fully convinced. He also wanted exclusive rights over Rocketbook, but that couldn’t happen. Later on, NuvoMedia founders met Barnes and Noble founder Leonard Riggio and sealed the deal.
In 2004, Bezos thought of a new digital strategy to compete with Apple, which was on the top of the game, thanks to the massive success of iPod. At that time, Apple also had a huge impact on music, something Bezos wanted to replicate in Books. He wanted to control the end-to-end customer experience like Apple did. After a lot of discussions, Bezos decided to focus on being a bookseller in the digital world. Bezos saw an opportunity in eBooks as the future of bookselling.