First, a Kindle for $US359 does not equate to $478 on the street or to your doorstep in Australia. Second, that is just for buying a device that is going to be replaced in probably a year’s time maybe even less. The Kindle DX is already out by the way. In any case, most consumer electronics are not made to last much longer than 3 years, most last alot less. This is a handheld device that people maybe travelling with, somethings it won’t survive, rain, spilt coffee, accidental drops, etc.
Thirdly, the fact that it sold out is a moot point only the total number should be considered. As an extreme example, if i know there is an estimated 100 people willing to buy my product, if I only manufacture say 75, when I sell out I get to tell people that I am sold out and they will have to be on the waitlist. This is called good PR and inventory management.
Fourthly, its in-built DRM will hold this device back, already there are loud protests on how Kindle platform allow publishers to turn OFF text to speech features on certain offerings (I assume to protect their audio book offerings)
Although this article correctly points out the strategy that newspapers will probably have to take for the kindle to be taken seriously (subsidising). Also, I feel it is not the right time yet as the product is not complete enough for it to be considered a matured product. At the moment I think it has a fair bit to go to have what most people would want in a product like the Kindle. Then we will have to see the economic realities of how many people will be willing to invest in a product which has a limited lifespan, and the pricing of its offerings (books and newspapers).
I hope a company comes forward with a reading device that is more friendly to the wallet, control the publishing world in the online domain like the ITunes does for online music sales, and whose manufacturers not want to implement DRM which lacks good sense.