By Sven Larsen (@Zemoga)
Like a lot of folks in our industry, I got very excited when Apple released the iPad early last year. With its elegant design, gorgeous interface, and a pre-existing model for e-commerce (the amazingly successful iTunes store), I was one of the many who dubbed the machine a “Kindle killer”. After all, who would want a dinky, black and white display that pretties much only worked well as an e-reader when they could have this state of the art machine?
Nine months later I’ve changed my tune. I still don’t own an iPad (although I’ve played with the ones we have in our office and I think they’re great) but I do own a Kindle 3. How did a die-hard Mac guy like me get converted to the cult of Bezos? And how did Amazon stop the iPad from eating their business? They changed the rules of the game.
If Amazon had gone head to head with Apple, they certainly would have lost. Apple is a genius marketing company with a great product and a built in fan base of evangelists. There’s no comparison when it comes to features and functionality between a Kindle2 (the magazine sized version) and an iPad. The Kindle 3 is another story entirely. Amazon was smart enough to make the device small enough and cheap enough that they actually created a new product category for themselves (my own Kindle lust began when I saw an ad with a user putting the Kindle in their back pocket). Instead of an “either/or” choice that they would have lost Amazon cleverly asked “why not both?”
No the Kindle3 doesn’t play movies or run awesome videogames. But it does exactly what I need it to do. Hold hundreds of books, allow me to take notes, and even automatically open to the last page I was reading. It hasn’t replaced my laptop but it has replaced the hard copy books I used to carry. And it’s simplicity and size means I carry it just about everywhere (much like I used to carry my Flip everywhere before I got an iPhone with video capabilities).
The Kindle is a great argument for doing a small variety of things and doing them well. Something for us all to remember the next time feature creep s6tarts to take a hold of one of our planning sessions.
So kudos to Amazon for deigning a cool device that enhances my user experience and satisfies a need I didn’t know I had. I won’t be betting against them again.
Now what else is out there that does a single thing so simply and well that the user has to have it? What’s going to be 2011’s Flip or Kindle?