It Only Takes A Spark

10 09 2012

I love a good fight. In the marketplace, I mean. Whenever you get a couple of powerhouse companies in a knock-down, drag-out, consumers are the ultimate winners.

Like today after Amazon’s Jeff Bezos came out with punching with a fistful of new Kindles.

While Kindle may have been first to launch tablets in recent memory (I say that because Sony tried and failed a few years prior), it has been Apple stealing all the thunder with iPads. Over 60 million iPads have been sold since April 2010.

But Kindles have always been cheaper than iPads, even if not in the same features league. Not anymore, though. While Bezos further lowered the price of a base Kindle (to $159), he hit the upper end with a Cadillac-on-a-Chevy budget model that will rival any iPad out there…and for $230 less.

While both companies have had the benefit of visionary leaders, their strategies are very different. Apple is primarily a high-priced hardware company that has managed to make good money selling music and apps. Amazon, though, is a mass retailer that also happens to make lower-priced Kindles. And, as Bezos well knows, the real money to be made is through selling stuff.

Which is why he wants to get a Kindle (any Kindle, for crying out loud) in the hands of as many people as possible.

You see, each and every Kindle Fire is basically a shopping cart in the Amazon store. Apple’s limitation is Amazon’s strength. Apple sells primarily music and apps, a few movies, and even few books and periodicals. I learned this a couple of years ago while trying to buy books for my 1st-gen iPad. The iBooks store is pathetic; I quickly downloaded the Kindle app to the iPad and started buying all of my books there.

Oh, and a ton of other stuff from Amazon, although I had to navigate to it using the o-board Safari browser. Bezos fixes all that, though, on the Kindles because you are never more than a tap away from being in the store.

There’s also some delicious irony today (especially if you do not like Apple), because Apple just announced a Big Announcement Day for 12th September. On that day analysts expect not only iPhone5, but also a smaller, leaner iPad to do battle with Kindle. But Bezos got the first punch.

And what a punch it was. Do you think there are many persons alive who won’t be getting some kind of tablet device for Christmas this year? This fight is only warming up, and the sparks are already flying. I see lots of boxes on doorsteps with the familiar smile logo. Never mind that I am the quintessential Apple junkie…today’s showing could be Amazon’s coup de gras in the tablet market.

Dr “Jump Into The Fire” Gerlich


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