Editor’s note: This piece originally ran on PandoDaily.com. It is being reprinted with permission.

Whether you own one or not, you have to respect the Kindle. In the age of digital Darwinism – where perfectly good products and companies were brutally rendered extinct by superior species – the Kindle was the little e-reader that could, not only thriving in the age of tablets but even, in time, evolving into a multimedia device that took a bite of the market share for tablets.

The Kindle was never flashy. It lacked the sexiness of the iPad, offering instead pure functionality. Its design was bland and boxy, offering up a color spectrum that could be found in a dirty ashtray. It went on sale in 2007 for $399 and sold out in five hours. Skeptics thought this was just a small but fervent niche market of book lovers who fetishized the Kindle. But in time, the Kindle proved those skeptics wrong.

The Kindle proved skeptics wrong again when the iPad launched with its own built-in ebook apps. The Kindle app that Amazon created for the iPad was so good, some people thought the Kindle device itself was finished, that Amazon would achieve its ebook dominance through an app it created for the iPad and other tablets.

That view proved wrong too. In part because of e-ink, the black-and-white, eye-friendly technology invented way back before the dot-com bubble started to form. But also because – thanks to Jeff Bezos’s obsession with bargains — the Kindle’s price dropped as low as $69, cheaper than a parking ticket in most cities.