Amazon Sulk & Eat Touchco While Macmillan Wait

While Amazon behave like the sulking teenager and continue to drag their feet and delay the return of buy buttons to Macmillan’s listed catalogue, the Amazon corporate and development moguls are not letting the grass grow under their feet. Following the media glare last week on Apple’s new iPad, the New York Times technology section reports today that Amazon have purchased Touchco, a start-up based company specializing in touch-screen technology.
The mere mention of Macmillan at this morning’s opening address of the America Booksellers Association’s Winter Institute Program, yielded cheer, applause and ovation. So much so, News Corporation (they own HarperCollins) Chief, Rupert Murdoch, barked at the gate long after the burglar had long fled for home.

“We don’t like the Amazon model of selling everything at USD 9.99. They pay us the wholesale price of USD 14 or whatever we charge, but I think it really devalues books and it hurts all the retailers of the hard cover books.”

Thanks, Rup, well-tuned in, safe journey home…
It’s hard to know whether Amazon’s move was something already in the pipeline to develop what the Kindle has to offer or something planned over the past few weeks with the arrival of Apple’s iPad.
The New York Times article got the opinion of Design & Engineering Professor, Donald Norman, of Northwestern University:

“Donald Norman, a professor at Northwestern University and an expert on design and engineering, said that while E Ink’s technology was well suited for reading long books, “it is too slow and ponderous” for reference works, multimedia and any tablet device that seeks to connect to a wide range of entertainment. He said that to respond to the iPad, Amazon could either drop the price of the current Kindle or “compete and switch to some other type of display.”

The acquisition “would suggest Amazon is looking to expand its platform perhaps beyond e-readers to encompass more functionality and more content,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Lazard Capital. “It also could help them address some of the form-factor issues with the Kindle,” allowing it, for example, to replace the physical keyboard with a virtual one, he said.”

As an aside, there are rumours of the UK iPad launch now being as early as late March/early April in spite of what Steve Jobs indicated at last week’s iPad unveiling.

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