I did it. I stepped up and bought myself a Kindle last night.

I didn't have a choice. Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) blinked first.

"I'm calling your bluff, Amazon," I wrote during the e-book reader's launch in November. "I smell a springtime price cut."

I was right. Amazon's $400 Kindle was marked down by 10% to $360 yesterday. Now that the initial production concerns have been licked -- at least as it pertains to meeting current demand -- it makes perfect sense for Amazon to lower prices as it tries to reach a wider audience.

To be fair, I also predicted a steeper price cut just before this year's holiday shopping season, publishers slashing their e-book ransoms, and Amazon coming out with an improved version of the Kindle.

Those are all good reasons to hold off on buying one of the first-generation Kindles, but I can't get too cocky. I'm no poor-man's Nostradamus. Amazon has never shown its hand about a Kindle 2.0 in the works, and book publishers are stingy.

And quite frankly, after initially bashing the Kindle as a $400 paperweight, I came around to embrace it. Its convenient self-publishing platform will give Amazon an edge in populating its virtual storefront with original content.

Turning the page
There will be challenges, of course. The marketplace always changes. A year ago, the Kindle's biggest threat was Sony's (NYSE:SNE) e-book device. The Sony Reader beat Amazon to the market, using similar electronic ink that enhances the appearance of text on a screen.

Amazon is up to that challenge, mostly because it watches over a huge audience of book lovers through Amazon.com. The company has been promoting the Kindle at the top of its landing page every single day since its mid-November launch. It even kept promoting the Kindle when it was out of stock, a move that thankfully didn't cost Amazon's fiscal performance.

Today's competitors are trickier. The Kindle's EVDO connectivity allows owners to download book purchases or surf Wikipedia without having to be within range of a Wi-Fi hotspot. The same can be said of popular Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) smartphones, and those devices have wider online functionality, as well as the ability to do everything from make phone calls to stream videos to take pictures.

The Kindle has to compete against shrinking laptops and improving wireless handsets. Yes, it's great to know that its storefront is loaded with more than 120,000 digitally deliverable books, magazines, newspapers, and blogs, but some of these things are available through other Web-friendly portable appliances for free.

Back to the future
Tomorrow will be a neat place to live, and not just because a marked-down Kindle will be waiting on my porch. The future will be great because there are so many cool portable devices competing for our attention.

No matter how revolutionary Garmin's (NASDAQ:GRMN) GPS or Sirius's (NASDAQ:SIRI) satellite radio receiver seemed two years ago, those companies are having a tough time at the retail level, because multifaceted gadgets are taking over. My Kindle can't be just a bulky dictionary. If someone finds a way to wedge an e-book reader, a GPS locator, and a Sirius receiver into a single device, it'll beat out weaker devices that only sport a single specialty.

This makes my Kindle purchase a risk, and I know that. I could be singing its praises or burying it in a time capsule by this time next year.

Amazon has so much to gain, especially if it becomes to books what Apple has become to music. The world's leading online retailer knows that, which is why it will make sure that my knocks prove hollow, and my $360 purchase proves smart.

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