From The Economist:
Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owes much of his success to his ability to look beyond the short-term view of things.
If Amazon does one day move into bricks-and-mortar retail, it would not be the first time that Mr Bezos had taken a leaf from the book of Jobs. Like Apple’s visionary leader, he has a strong sense of showmanship, which was on display at the carefully choreographed launch of the Kindle Fire last year. Mr Bezos can also be an intense and demanding manager. But most importantly, he shares with Mr Jobs an innate understanding of the importance of thinking about high-tech products from the customer’s point of view.
During the design of the original Kindle, for example, Mr Bezos insisted that the e-reader had to work without needing to be plugged into a PC. That meant giving it wireless connectivity. But he also wanted it to work everywhere, not just in Wi-Fi hotspots, and without the need for a monthly contract. This prompted the Kindle team to devise a new business model, striking deals with mobile-phone operators to allow Kindle users to download e-books without having to pay network fees. The ability to download books anywhere does not simply make life easier for users; it also encourages them to buy more books. The Kindle is an e-reader, but it is also a portable bookshop.
Similarly, with the Kindle Fire, Mr Bezos recognised that a tablet computer designed chiefly for consuming entertainment content is no use unless there is plenty of such content available. For many other tablet manufacturers, the question of getting content onto their devices seems to be an afterthought; but Amazon, like Apple, has assembled an ecosystem of books, apps, video and music to accompany its device. Moreover, Amazon can use cross-subsidies from the sale of digital content to keep the price of the Fire down, something that rival tablet-makers who do not sell content cannot do. Once again, Mr Bezos is playing a long-term game in the hope of establishing the Fire as the main rival to the iPad.
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