Apple gets it. And Amazon gets it. Is it any coincidence then that tablets created by these two companies will be the category leaders for the next few years?
In launching the Kindle Fire, Amazon instantly created a hit.
Not because it was selling support for Flash. Or dual quad-processors with eleventy hundred gigs of storage or two different-megapixel cameras. There aren’t five different models for all kinds of mobile networks. And you don’t have to choose between “Honeycomb” or “Gingerbread”. Consumers don’t understand this. What is Android 2.2? What is Android 2.3? Why do I even need to care?
Normal consumers want to know what a piece of technology can do for them.
Amazon couldn’t make it any simpler: “Movies, apps, games, music, reading and more, plus Amazon’s revolutionary, cloud-accelerated web browser.” (The Kindle Fire itself is actually a very basic piece of hardware. A 7″ tablet – effectively the BlackBerry Playbook, with a micro-USB port and WiFi connectivity.) Bundling in free cloud storage for all Amazon content means consumers don’t need to worry about “memory”.
Let’s rewind. If you trace the evolution of the iTunes store, you’ll realise its this content that has made every single Apple product unbeatable. Not specifications-wise, mind you. An iPhone without the iTunes (App) Store is actually a fairly mediocre device.
Amazon was headed in this direction. The signs were there. Amazon Web Services, the digital content (mp3s, video streaming), and of course, eBooks. It defined this category and the Kindle pushed eBooks into the mainstream.
Slow, methodical moves. Once Amazon had rights, and the content was in the cloud, surely it could deliver this where?
Amazon, on the Kindle promo on its homepage, actually describes its philosophy:
There are two types of companies: those that work hard to charge customers more, and those that work hard to charge customers less. Both approaches can work. We are firmly in the second camp.
Sure, the price is what’s attracted most of the attention. $199! Less than half the price of the cheapest iPad! All! mainstream! coverage! has centred on this.
But, the iPad and Kindle Fire aren’t direct competitors. They’re not meant to be. When Tata launched its ultra-cheap Nano car, did the headline writers decree that the Nano was an Aston Martin killer? This is deliberately hyperbolic (and I’m not suggesting that the Kindle Fire is a Nano or that an iPad is an Aston).
(True or false: Did cheap Dell laptops kill Macbooks?)
Now, for the first time, consumers actually have an alternative.
The Kindle Fire is an anything-else-that-is-a-cheap-Android-tablet killer. The real losers are Samsung, HTC, Motorola, BlackBerry (and Acer, Toshiba and whoever else is shipping a tablet this month).
Why on earth would you want to buy a device that simply doesn’t have all the content the Kindle Fire has?
It’s interesting that Amazon has chosen to make Android irrelevant. Sure, you can get apps from its Amazon Appstore for Android… the only mention of the “a”-word. You don’t need to worry about that green robot. It should be irrelevant. Consumers don’t care what operating system their smart devices are running.
What next from Amazon? A phone?