After throwing off the mediocre display of 3-D technologies and e-books at CES, the industry is eagerly awaiting the main event on Wednesday. There truly is no spectacle that compares to the launch of a new Apple product. The formula is well-established. Everyone is hungry for the next iPhone moment and Apple's bid to squash the Kindle and reinvent the publishing business with the iPad or the iSlate tablet computer. But that is a mere sideshow. The real road kill this time will not be the Kindle. It will be handheld video gaming devices like Sony's PSP and the Nintendo DS, as Apple establishes a lock on the economics of casual gaming with its newest device.
People have a lot of expectations for the new, larger-sized Kindle DX . Interesting how a shift in size / form factor can hold the fate of an entire industry (newspapers in this case) in its hand. Wow, the power of industrial design! I wish a larger screen could save the Boston Globe. But I doubt that is the case, at least not in the way people are hoping.
It's such a relief to have a new cause celebre in the world of product design--particularly something not made by Apple. I am talking about the new Kindle, of course. I can finally take the iPhone out of every one of my presentation decks. Like the Wii, the Kindle seems to be breaking new ground, appealing to people (like my wife, an editor at a women's magazine) who are not Luddites (she has used a smartphone for email for years) but don't fetishize their gizmos at all. The Kindle is a different story.
It is particularly exciting for anyone in the product design community when a major consumer brand makes the leap to hardware. Unfortunately, this usually takes the form of "logo slapping," by the likes of Disney and others. The results are superficial at best. But they can also do real damage to the brand.
At frog, we talk a lot about "brand-led innovation," a concept that is becoming core to any brand or marketing strategy. But innovation cannot be delivered through conventional marketing media alone. It requires new products or services of some kind, like Hulu. And I would argue that innovation has a different impact when the product is something you can hold and love.