Kindle Fire: What India needs to Learn?

Date:   Thursday , October 06, 2011

It is true that Tablets are here to stay. These small, sleek and easy to use devices, have definitely caught the consumer’s attention. We saw Apple ruling the market, but with a price which does not suit everyone’s wallet. After the phenomenal success of iPad, we saw many big players entering the same space.But none has been able to crack the dominance of Apple's iPad; whether it be Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom, HP TouchPad, RIM Playbook or LG’sOptimus Pad. Most of them have been greeted with mediocre reviews and tepid sales.

In a market where all is not going well, on September 28, 2011 Amazon's Jeff Bezos introduced the 7-inch Android tablet with a $199 price tag. At $199, Kindle Fire will be the cheapest of its kind when it is released in the U.S. next month.According to research firm eDataSource, pre-order sales for new Kindle Fire tablet totalled 95,000 units in the first day of sale. Though price and preorder volumes say it all, these are not the only indicators of an approaching success which is going to fizz the tablet market. So what can the players learn from Amazon’s approach? Especially the Indian players who did try their luck in this market, have much to learn from Amazon’s strategy and approach.

The Desi Euphoria

Back home, there has been some action in the tablet space by home grown companies—Olive Telecom’s Olivepad, Notion Ink’s Adam, Reliance’s 3G Tab, Infibeam’s Phi tablet, BhartiAirtel’sBeetel, HCL’s ME tablet, Binatone Home Surf, Accord@pad, Wesproepad, Lava, Micromax — are battling for a share of the Indian tablet market. Their mantra: Affordable tablets.

However, affordable product or technology alone is not the recipe for success in the marketplace. There is no new technology introduced that gives Fire an advantage over anyone; all they did was make a good product at a reasonable price. The key to the success, is smart marketing or smart business strategy. The Kindle Fire may be poised to win the Android tablet war, but Bezos doesn’t think of it as a tablet. “We think of Kindle Fire as an end-to-end service.”

The new Kindle strategy is terrific. It's about the content and the price. Bezos sees the Kindle Fire, holistically as a delivery device, which will help unleash all the digital media services Amazon offers. As Amazon puts it, "18 million songs, movies, TV shows, books, magazines, apps and games." Can the other players in the android market beat this volume of content?

Beyond the Device

“In the modern era of consumer electronics devices, if you are just building a device, you are unlikely to succeed,” Bezos says, “Today it is about the software, the software on the device and the software in the cloud. It is a seamless service—this is Kindle greeting you by name when you pull it out of the box. Some of the companies building tablets didn’t build services, they just built tablets.” For example, Kindle Fire comes with a new kind of Web browser called Amazon Silk, which weds the tablet to Amazon's cloud network.

That’s the reason Kindle Fire is producing more optimism, than all the non-iPad tablet launches combined. People do indeed like the idea of a purpose-built device that does a few things well. Bezos’ exceptional ability, to “marry commerce and technology in creative ways," and "his sheer inventiveness and willingness to take the risks," should decide the success of Amazon and that of Kindle Fire.It is now going to be an exciting market, where Amazon is leading and paving the way. Innovation also means filling the gap and improvising the product. Can the other players follow suit? Lets wait and watch.