Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle really is a whole new kind of gadget, geekerati. So stop the silly comparisons to “my iPhone” — apparently the universal benchmark for any gadget. (Take it from me, the Peekster-in-chief.)
Compare instead to the consumer behaviour that Amazon is really targeting: Reading books. Like the iPod (CD/tape players), the Flip (camcorders), the digital camera (film cameras), and the Peek (smartphones), the Kindle has a flat-footed foe: Books.
You know you are on to something when Steve Jobs calls your product stupid because “people don’t read anymore.”
Kindle was the first effort at an e-book that really was better enough to get people’s attention: Good for reading, portable, easy to use, and even a plausible “deal” if you read a lot. As good as a book in most ways, and better in a bunch of ways.
Guess what they did with Kindle 2?
- Made it better for reading with a better resolution screen
- Made it thinner and sexier looking to address the “clunky” problem
- Fixed the big interface design mistakes like that dumb “next page” button
- Longer battery
- More storage
- Faster UI
- More books and content being added
- Kept it just as easy
- Kept it the same price
Sounds like an upgrade in all the dimensions that matter to the types of people who like and use Kindle now. They are not trying to out-iPhone the iPhone, no matter how many knaves are chasing that prize (cf., Dell, Motorola, HTC, Samsung…)
And of course they didn’t lower the price! You have a widely revered gadget with lots of momentum, apparently selling out each season, and only a few hundred thousand units into its life. The next million users probably look a lot more like the early buyers than like the mass market laggards of 2012 who are picking this thing up at Wal-Mart for President’s Day.
Anyway, it’s only February. Wait for November.
One final lesson from the category-shaping Mr. Jobs: the iPod launched in 2001. The Shuffle and Nano finally turned up in 2005. Zune in 2006.
Microsoft better start their engines quick.
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