As I mentioned on this blog some months back, I bought a Kindle II from Amazon. For someone like me who's on airplanes every week, this device is perfect. I download new books in under a minute, and the device can hold hundreds of novels, along with newspapers, and even Word docs and pdfs. For Amazon, Kindle was a way to re-energize reading, while also taking advantage of their core business - selling books online.
But for you, maybe the Kindle isn't that great a deal. Yes, it's convenient, but it's not cheap. And if you're not on the road a whole lot, there's nothing so difficult about carrying around a hard cover book or paperback. And of course, there's the public library, enjoying new-found popularity as consumers discover there's a less expensive way to access books.
So if you're Amazon, what's next?
First, they now make Kindle available as a free app on iPhones. So if you forget your Kindle, or you're in the doctor's office or in line somewhere, you can whip out your phone and read a few pages to kill some time. (By the way, the two devices sync up nicely.) So, for me, it's another indication that they're thinking about my convenience, and helping me reap more of the benefit from the cost of the Kindle.
Second, Amazon has now teamed up with six U.S. universities to integrate the Kindle with student needs - a brilliant application. While the new Kindle DX is even more expensive (but larger for textbook use), students typically carry around a half dozen books (or more) in backpacks all over campus. Imagine having all your books in one sleek device (along with the newspaper of your choice and other documents). On Kindle, you can highlight passages, just as you might do with one of those yellow markers. And given the cost of college books (a historical ripoff), you can imagine how a little cooperation between all parties could create a win-win-win situation for Amazon, the schools, and students.
These are great examples of how to brainstorm smart applications with existing content, resources, and hardware - something we need to do more of in radio. How can we take our shows, our personalities, our community presence, our technology, and our clients to devise new outlets, applications, and ways for listeners to be able to enjoy and use our product?
In the "old days," we simply broadcast our product to an undifferentiated audience and ran commercials for advertisers. But that's not where we live anymore. We have the ability to segment the audience through our email databases, we can allow listeners to time shift our programming, we have the capability to augment the experience with video, and we have the means and outlets to provide programming to reach consumers in new places and on new listening devices.
Instead of being consumed by the same old radio problems and concerns, how can we look outside the traditional confines of the studio walls to create exciting new applications and outlets for our programming? How can we use our existing resources - jocks, sales reps, production people, web masters, interns, programmers - to create a better experience that allows us to generate more revenue from our existing properties?
In spite of the economy, we have the tools, resources, and staffing to rethink our strategies, in much the same way Amazon has with their Kindle, and their ability to sell books online. But we're not going to get there in the same old meetings covering the same shopworn topics. We need to break down the silos that separate the various departments in our stations to work together on integrated solutions, and we have to keep asking the question...