April, 2010. Apple's iPad sees the light of day for the first time. Yes, it was only a few short years ago the iPad was first introduced to the world market. To say it was a splash is an understatement. Apple knocked it out of the park. A new product category was soon created out of thin air and Apple, once again, became the toast of the town. Tablets are now as common a product category discussed as mobile phones and laptops.
I'd like to focus on Amazon's response to the iPad's release due to the perceived 'shot across the bow' that Apple delivered Amazon as a result of Amazon's competing Kindle ebook reader.
When the iPad was released I had owned Amazon's Kindle. Buying this ebook reader made me think I had something stylish, easy to use and, frankly, revolutionary because, well, it was. There had been nothing like it to date and Amazon should be commended for it. They were not a products company at the time of the Kindle's release - not even close - but pulled off a perfectly executed product development strategy and effectively launched the Kindle which revolutionized book reading today.
Amazon's Kindle even included seamless and direct wireless access to Amazon’s digital bookstore with every book title imaginable at a fraction of the cost of the physical book - even some free books too! Yes, Amazon developed the “it” device despite the hefty price tag of $399. The Kindle hit the market in November, 2007 and I picked up mine within days. As an avid reader, it was worth every penny. (In fact, I still have the same one and still love it.)
Back to the iPad's release in April 2010.
Virtually overnight the iPad could have made the Kindle seem paste-y, simplistic, un-colorful (literally), and, worst of all, dated. With the iPad's flashy, color-screened touch display and wealth a capabilities it seemed like technology's Swiss Army knife of gadgets. You could read and send emails, view documents, presentations, and spreadsheets, watch movies and videos, play games, listen to podcasts and music, read magazines, books and newspapers and surf the internet all with a simple tap of the screen. Even the technology illiterate could use it too! ...and I didn’t even mention the hundreds of thousands of Apps available either!
So...does this mean the death of the Kindle? Sure seems like it, right, since the Kindle is only an ebook reader.
Not so fast.
The market overreacted (understatement) believing the Kindle was doomed to fail. The naysayers believed that it was an either/or choice - Kindle or iPad - with the clear winner seeming to be the iPad. But Amazon knew better.
Amazon responded immediately to the iPad's release so they could quickly differentiate the Kindle against the larger-sized and more expensive tablet from Apple. Amazon's reasoning: the Kindle and the iPad serve different consumer purposes.
In short, their Kindle was for ebook reading - smaller, focused and without glare meaning reading in the sun was possible unlike with the iPad, while Apple's iPad was intended to be for a different set of purposes with book reading being secondary.
As we all know, Amazon's Kindle has not only thrived but excelled in this space spawning new and less-costly Kindle versions which are all selling like hot cakes. They even introduced their own tablet, the Kindle Fire.
With a world-class forecasting practice in place including unfiltered feedback from all areas of the business, Amazon could quickly respond to the iPad's release with surety and conviction on their overall product strategy while also being adaptable enough to adeptly launch more Kindle product family members, including even a tablet of their own, the Kindle Fire. This is how industry leaders stay industry leaders.
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