Monday, October 10, 2011

Kindle Fire, A Game Changer?

Most first year marketing students can relate the story attributed to a Black & Decker executive. He is said to have once lectured to his marketing staff that “We don’t sell electric drills, we sell holes.” Whether this exchange ever happened is irrelevant. What is important is the concept of understanding what you are selling and what the customer really wants.

The recent announcement by indicates that the company has taken the “drill / hole” analogy to heart. announced a new version of the very popular Kindle called the Kindle Fire. I have discussed the Kindle in this column several times since it was released more than two years ago. Up until this iteration of the device, the Kindle was essentially an eReader, arguably the best eReader on the market. It was not designed to do much else and the millions of users appreciated the simplicity and functionality.

The Kindle Fire, which will be available in November just in time for the holiday shopping season, is much more than a color version of the original. The Fire is a multimedia viewer/player. Not only can you read books, magazines and newspapers, you can also watch movies and your favorite TV programs.

Here is where the “drill” analogy comes in. The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos used a Steve Jobs-like multimedia extravaganza to announce the Kindle Fire, but unlike Jobs when he announced the iPad, Bezos concentrated most of his remarks on the content that was available for the Kindle Fire not on the speed of the microprocessor or other techno facts.

Bezos and are counting on the fact that the customer is not in the market for a new digital device, they want to watch movies or TV shows and do it effortlessly and, more important, inexpensively. A look at the marketing materials on the website demonstrates this emphasis. Almost 95% of the page deals with content. Only at the very bottom of the page will you find information about the innards of the device. The official iPad web page is virtually void of any mention of what you can do with the iPad instead concentrating on the device specifications, i.e., color, wifi or 4G, 16 gig or 64 gig, etc.

Since the Kindle Fire will not be shipped until November it is too early to see if it will pose significant competition to Apple’s iPAd. The price of $199 vs. the iPad starting at about $500 will certainly make some take a close look at the Fire. The real competitive advantage that may have is the vast library of books, movies and TV shows they have available and the seamless and hassle free method of ordering and retrieving these materials with the Kindle Fire.

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