Perhaps the problem is that Amazon won the ereader war so quickly that nobody else has bothered to challenge them. The Kindle’s only real competition is smartphones and tablets, not other ereaders. Nobody thinks about the Kindle when they’re launching new subscription-only content services. It’s irrelevant. Book publishers have to publish to the Kindle in order to gain access to Amazon’s customers across Kindles and phones and tablets.
This paragraph comes pretty far down in Snell’s piece, after he has imagined all sorts of ways that Amazon could have improved the Kindle as a product over the years. All of his ideas are good, and if I did not vastly prefer books to e-readers, they might make the Kindle more appealing to me.
However, what Snell misses here is that the functionality of the Kindle as a product does not really matter to Amazon, other than in the most basic sense, because they are not interested in selling products.
Amazon is an engine for commoditizing existing markets, driving all other competitors out of those markets, and then using their scale and domination to wring whatever profit they can out of the very slim remaining margins. It is what they did with books, music, and video. It is what they continue to do with web hosting infrastructure and web services. It was what they are doing with last-mile delivery.
They build something that barely works but is cheap and super-scalable, and then they aim it an existing market and hold their finger on the FIRE button until they have reduced everything else to rubble. It is why their search function sucks and their reviews are confusing garbage. It is why their over-worked, under-trained drivers routinely cause traffic accidents and run people over.
Amazon could make all of this stuff better, but they won’t. Making better things is not the business they are in.