Believe it or not, it’s been five years since Amazon introduced us to the Kindle brand, marking the company’s first foray into the world of hardware. A successful foray it has been, dominating the e-reader market and even making inroads into the just-as-new tablet market with the Kindle Fire.
The e-reader, Fire aside, has come a long way since the ill-begotten physical keyboards of the old models. Today, the Paperwhite features a touchscreen, backlighting (or frontlighting, as they call it for the Paperwhite), and a smaller frame that makes it even more portable. It’s been a favorite of travelers who are unable to lug around a ton of physical books, and a favorite of anyone who lives someplace where space is of the essence. After all, what else is the Kindle but a tiny, electronic bookshelf?
For their part, Amazon has taken this chance to look back at a little of the Kindle’s history – specifically, to find out what most of those digital bookshelves are stocked with. Turns out, not much variety in that department. The top 5 all-time best-selling e-books come from two trilogies – the Hunger Games trilogy takes spots two through four, bracketed by the first and second books of the Fifty Shades trilogy. Fifty Shades of Grey turned out to be the 2012 best-seller, which is unlikely to relent in the last month of the year. In previous years, that title was held by The Help, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and The Lost Symbol. The 2008 best-selling book was The Complete User’s Guide To the Amazing Amazon Kindle, which I haven’t read, but I’ve been told it’s a riveting page-turner.
But, as we all know, Amazon moved into the tablet market wit the Fire, and that means that apps are no less important to the Kindle brand than e-books in 2012. The favorite free apps for the Fire offer no surprises – juggernauts Angry Birds, Temple Run, and Fruit Ninja take three of the top five spots. Netflix comes in second, and in fourth we have Solitaire, which has apparently very quietly remained one of the most dominant free time-wasters in computing history. Two of the top paid apps also involve Angry Birds – their trips to Rio and space. Where’s My Water?, Cut the Rope, and Where’s My Perry? take the first, third, and fifth spots, respectively.
The fact that Amazon can look back with pride on five years of the Kindle tells you one thing right away – the Kindle’s still doing pretty well today. It practically gave birth to the 7” tablet market in a competitive sense, and so far has weathered the storm of assaults from devices like the Google Nexus 7. It remains to be seen if it can stand up to the iPad Mini, but with those low prices, the Kindle Fire looks like it will be sitting pretty for a while. Then again, before five years ago, the Kindle didn’t even exist – things can change in a hurry, can’t they?