Kevin, my friend and colleague, just came back from USA, bringing a Kindle Fire with him. I tried it for an hour or two, and finally it confirms my earlier thought: this whole new Kindle, together with the strategy behind it, will gain its own success, and push the post-PC era, which is started by Apple, forward to a new stage.
The device feels overall very solid and comfortable, except it’s a bit heavier than I expected. But you cannot expect a full function 7-inch pad weighs as light as a 6-inch e-ink device, right? And it’s still 1/3 lighter than iPad 2. The 1024 x 600, 7″ display is clear and sharp, the reading experience is as good as on my old Kindle 3, except the weight again. Amazon Appstore provides many Android apps and games which can run smoothly on Kindle Fire, though not so many as Apple’s. The experience of apps are varied, generally OK. And especially, the Kindle Silk browser is just OK, providing no noticeable browsing speed improvement even at USA, as Kevin told me.
So it is just-another-failed-Android-pad? Absolutely no. We all have read a lot of good-but-not-so-great reviews about Kindle Fire (e.g. this, and this), but they are mostly originated from technical people. It’s 100 percent truth that the first edition of Kindle Fire is far from flawless, but the most important thing is that for a common user Kindle Fire is so easy to use, not only much simpler than all the available Android pads, even simpler than iPad. Kevin bought it a week ago, and his iPad 2’s usage dropped 80% after that. It’s easier to use and lighter to hold. We listed the best scenarios for Kindle Fire: video, music, gaming and reading. For these scenarios, Kindle Fire ‘just works’. What Kindle Fire is really lack of, compared to iPad, are high quality professional apps such as iWork, OmniGraffle, iTeleport, Prompt, Brushes and so on. But tell me how many times and how long have you used them, even if they stay in your iPad for a long long time.
Remember when Steve Jobs introduced iPad for the first time, he picked up some scenarios (looking photos, watching videos, handling emails, etc.) and told us iPad can do these things far better than a smartphone or a laptop computer. Pads are devices between handheld devices and laptop computers, they fit some scenarios and only fit them. Now Amazon goes even further, they just focus on a few of these scenarios, the requirements from all people, the entertainment requirements, and put them into a more compact, lighter and easier to use device. That’s Kindle Fire.
One big part of entertainment requirements is gaming. iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad are very good gaming platforms, and there are so many excellent games in Apple’s AppStore: addictive casual games, innovative games facilitated by the multi-touch control and movement sensors, popular console games’ special edition, and many others. They cover the most part of time people use iDevices. For now Amazon’s Appstore cannot compare to his rival, but Kindle Fire has already show the potential as a gaming platform. When you hold it in landscape mode, it just acts like a little bigger PSP, the feel is very cool (see the 3rd photo above).
As reported by TechCrunch, Amazon will ship 3.9 million Kindle Fires this holiday quarter. As comparison, Apple sold 3.3 million iPad in the September quarter of 2010 and 7.3 million in the holiday quarter last year. Remember Kindle Fire is in a completely different size and price space from iPad which leads to a market not so crowded. If We see some notable sales growth of Kindle Fire, there’ll be no surprise. A reasonable prediction is, Kindle Fire will highly likely be the leader of all Android pads and gain more attention from app and content providers, especially the ones provide high quality contents.
Here comes the real point. I think that even without all the apps and games and third party contents, Amazon still can make Kindle Fire an epic success. It’s Amazon Prime service. At its earlier years, Amazon Prime was just a customer service plan focused on better delivery, by which Amazon promises to deliver any goods you ordered to you within 2 days. Some may say that 360buy and 51buy do a lot better and they can deliver goods 3 times a day and make the time frame less than several hours. But Amazon Prime is for North American people. The physical distribution cost is pretty much higher and to fulfill the 2-day promise is not so easy. So the Amazon Prime becomes the most popular paid service in America. Now Amazon Prime is changing. It provides unlimited streaming of music, movies and TV shows, right to your Kindle Fire. With the launch of Kindle Fire Amazon also opened an online library which let Prime members ‘borrow’ any books in it without extra cost. What you can borrow is limited for now, but we can bet on its progressively expansion. Apart from Amazon Prime, Amazon Appstore also provides a special bonus for Kindle Fire user: everyday Amazon picks up a popular paid app and give it to all Kindle Fire user for free! Finally, Kindle Fire bundles with a one month trial of Prime service, wondering how many people can resist the temptation to go on.
Isn’t it amazing? I think it’s amazing, at least for people in America. Most of the advantages Amazon holds are limited in North America. I’m imagining some big guy in China cloning Amazon’s business patterns, but it’s not so easy, not so easy indeed. Amazon’s business patterns depend on mass contents, excellent service, and good device. They require very powerful IT infrastructure and operation to run. They need long time working and accumulation.
Now the light is on, our world’s strongest two fighters have both entered the ring. They are both A-initiated(please ignore this bad joke). The champion, on the left, the most valuable tech company, the most popular tech brand all around the world, the flag of the Post-PC Era, exclusive skills include: Perfect Industrial Design, Ultimate User Experience Integration and Supply-chain Control plus Summon Infinite Cash Dragon, are preparing to prove that they can keep on moving from one victory to another even after his lifetime mentor passed away.
The challenger, on the right, the earliest and biggest e-commerce business, the best delivery and custom service provider in North America, bringing his powerful cloud infrastructure and uncountable contents, with his very powerful mentor who has the closest talents to the champion’s departed mentor, are chasing the champion’s weak point and looking for the chance to fulfill his own dream.