From entering the Chinese market in 2013, to closing the Tmall flagship store last year, and now rumored to withdraw from the Chinese market, Kindle has been losing ground in the Chinese market.
On January 4, 2022, the news of “Kindle or withdrawing from the Chinese market” rushed to the hot search, and most products in the official Kindle flagship store were out of stock.
On the other hand, domestic readers continue to emerge from affordable models below 1,000 yuan to professional models below 5,000 yuan. If the Kindle withdraws from the Chinese market, can many domestic readers become the new “instant noodle cover”?
The rise of domestic e-readers?
At present, domestic brands that manufacture e-readers include not only traditional hardware manufacturers such as Hanwang and Hanlin, but also digital reading platforms such as Palm Reading, Dangdang, and WeChat Reading. Even manufacturers such as JD.com, Xiaomi, and iFLYTEK are relying on their own content. Ecology, launched an e-reader.
“The essence of a brand is to retain high-quality users.” Fan Binbin, the former brand director of a digital reading platform in China, was responsible for the work related to e-readers. He believes that users who use e-readers are high-quality users, while e-readers are It is an entrance to lock readers’ habit of reading and consuming through this platform in the future.
In terms of hardware conditions such as high-definition ink screen, printing-level look and feel, strong battery life, large memory, cold and warm colors, and UI design, domestic brands are no different from Kindle. Fan Binbin introduced that the e-reader is an Electronic product with slow technological iteration. In terms of hardware, domestic brands have already surpassed the Kindle with only one or two generations of products.
From the software point of view, state-owned brands are more aware of the Chinese people’s usage habits, and the products are developed in accordance with Chinese logic. Compared with the Kindle, which adopts English design logic, it is more friendly to Chinese users and smoother to use.
Many users said that the system is too closed, the refresh rate is low, the format is single, and the transmission is difficult.
Fan Binbin, for example, to transfer e-books to Kindle, there are generally three methods: data cable transmission, e-book store purchase, and email push, but domestic brands can do WIFI scan code to transfer books.
However, Fan Binbin pointed out that due to insufficient market space, low profits, and insufficient motivation for brand promotion and research and development, it is difficult to support the continuous investment of state-owned brands. At the same time, the upstream hardware research and development iteration is slow, and the e-reader products are durable goods, and the frequency of user replacement is low, which also restricts the market development.
“Although there are many domestic brands, none of them are particularly outstanding, and it is difficult to take over the role of Kindle in the short term.” Fan Binbin said.
Relevant data shows that China has become the largest market for Amazon’s global Kindle device sales since the end of 2016. Compared with 2013, the total number of Kindle users in China increased by 91 times, the number of monthly active users increased by 69 times, and the number of paid users increased by 12 times. .
“If the leaders don’t pay attention to the Chinese market, it will actually be a great harm to the industry.” Fan Binbin believes that the current domestic e-reader market can be said to be dominated by Kindle, and Kindle’s products, content and brands are educated in the Chinese market. are all unique.
In response to the rumors of “may exit the Chinese market”, Amazon China officially responded: “We are committed to serving Chinese consumers, consumers can purchase Kindle devices through third-party online and offline retailers. Amazon provides high-quality customer service and warranty. The service will not change. The Kindle e-book reader is very popular among consumers, and some models are currently sold out in the Chinese market.”
Can domestic brands replace Kindle?
As critical as the experience of using the hardware is the reading ecology behind it.
In terms of book collection, domestic brands and Kindle have their own advantages and disadvantages. Kindle has more English books, but local brands have a larger supply of Chinese content, and also has the unique advantage of online literature.
Compared with the relatively closed system of Kindle, the current mainstream domestic e-readers basically adopt an open ecosystem, which not only supports multiple applications such as Kindle, WeChat reading, Duokan, and palm reading, but also realizes e-books, courses, listening to books, etc. Synchronization of resources and mobile phones.
Li Jian is an old user of a domestic paid knowledge brand. In order to be able to listen to books and lectures, he bought a reader of this brand more than a year ago, and also bought an electromagnetic pen for taking notes. On the subway, on the high-speed train on a business trip, and every day before going to bed, he would turn on the reader to read.
He said that compared with the Kindle, this reader can install various Android software, but the disadvantage is that it is slightly larger in size, inconvenient to carry, and the Display effect is not as good as the Kindle, and the screen is not transparent enough.
Kindle focuses on immersive reading, making single reading to the extreme, while domestic electronic paper books are powerful and can take into account multiple roles such as electronic paper books and office software.
Is the ecology open or closed? Is the product an integrated function or a dedicated product? Fan Binbin believes that the future direction of domestic brands should be to develop towards openness. Under the circumstance that the brand competitiveness can not be the only one, only by opening up can we get more user support.
In the case that the hardware, software and ecology are not inferior to the Kindle, what is missing in the domestic reader?
Fan Binbin believes that domestic e-readers should highlight the important areas, seize the Kindle market, and “make up lessons” in content and brand building. With brand power, there will be user support and bargaining power in the face of terminal channels.
Do we really need e-readers?
For a long time, e-readers have been in an awkward situation, and the question of whether it is necessary to buy them goes hand in hand. On Zhihu, questions such as “Is it necessary to buy a Kindle with a tablet” and “Do you regret buying a Kindle?” have received widespread attention.
“The reader has been telling a story for a long time: it can help readers save a lot of books and protect their eyes, but it seems that users don’t care about this matter so much now.” According to Fan Binbin’s observation, in the past few years, he often used to fly on planes and high-speed trains. There have been very few people who can read books with a Kindle in recent years.
Yuehui, a reading lover, said that her Kindle has been in ashes for a long time, and her Kindle has a very specific usage scenario – on the go. “Because you have to spend a long time on the road, such as waiting for the plane, taking the plane, it is not convenient to take paper books at this time, and the mobile phone must be guaranteed to have electricity.”
In addition, she generally uses WeChat to read on the commute, and prefers paper books at home.
She usually reads travel notes, essays, and novels on her Kindle, which are “books that don’t use your brain very much.” For more profound books such as social sciences and history, she still chooses paper books.
Due to the high idle rate, the Kindle has been the hottest item on the second-hand marketplace for two consecutive years. In 2021, Kindle ranks third in Xianyu’s “Top Ten Useless Products”. Xianyu’s comment is: “A relatively expensive instant noodle peripheral.” In 2020, Xianyu sold more than 400,000 idle Kindles Reader.
Even the Kindle itself has put out an “abandonment-style” advertisement of “covering the Kindle, the face is more fragrant”.
Zhiyan Consulting predicts that China’s e-reader shipments will be 2.37 million units in 2020, and will grow to 2.75 million units by 2023. The research agency CINNO forecast data shows that in 2021, China’s smartphone sales are expected to be around 320 million.
“Reader is a very small product in China, and its penetration rate is extremely low compared to other electronic products, and it can even be ignored.” Fan Binbin said.
With the popularity of smartphones, tablet PCs occupying the market, plus the emergence of reading and knowledge payment applications, and the rise of short videos, there are more and more products that occupy users’ time.
Therefore, some people say that Kindle’s competitors in China are not domestic brands, but mobile phones.
Relevant data shows that in 2020, the number of digital reading users in China will reach 494 million, and the per capita reading volume of e-books will reach 9.1. In terms of preferred form of reading, 43.4% of adults prefer to read on paper, 33.4% prefer to read on mobile phones, and only 8.6% prefer “reading on electronic readers”.
According to Palm Reading Technology’s 2020 financial report, the operating income of its digital reading platform is about 1.53 billion yuan, while the operating income of hardware products is only about 689,000 yuan.
In 2020, China Reading Group announced the data of WeChat reading for the first time: the cumulative number of registered users of WeChat reading has reached 210 million, of which the daily active users of pure publishing users have also exceeded 2 million.
Mobile phones are more portable than Kindles, and reading apps often send e-book resources and unlimited reading cards, attracting readers of readers to defect. Yuehui read half of her books last year on her phone. “I don’t think e-readers are unpopular, it’s just that people have found a better alternative.”