The hype around the iTablet is reaching a fever pitch with the Kindle increasingly looking like yet another example of Apple roadkill. If Apple can consume 32% of the profits in the mobile phone biz in less than three years, it should be no problem to swallow the nascent e-reader business in one quick bite. No sooner had Jeff Bezos graced the cover of Fast Company than the Kindle was pronounced dead by the digiterati (actually, it was "Kindle in Danger of Becoming E-books' Betamax," according to Brett Arends in the Wall Street Journal). With competition for e-readers heating up, will Jeff be able to defend his walled garden from rivals inside and outside the category that he built?
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.