Last week a package arrived from Amazon containing their latest version of the 8.9 FIRE HDX. I am not a huge tablet fan anymore, and my iPad has been collecting dust for quite a while. What started as something I had to have for a project, became a technology I loved to use for some work, gaming and consuming media. And eventually it became a glorified web browser, to eventually be rendered quite useless with the latest update of iOS. And since then, I never really saw the need to upgrade anymore.
To be honest, it is simply the price vs. the functionality of the tablet. Buying a new one would set me back about $800, for something I watch videos on and read the news and write some emails. Android was not a solution to me, simply because of my previous experiences with it.
The reason to get a Fire – which is of course a modified Android tablet – was simple… I got a great deal on it, and being able to test work on different platforms made it something for that price, that I could take a gamble on. I read pretty good reviews about it, but was very nicely surprised. Not because it was a tablet and a new toy to play with, but that it was the first time I used a product that deliberately was limited with a certain goal: This was a media consumption device. Not some productivity device, or a game device, or an app device. Amazon locked it down and modified it nicely so that it is a solid Amazon device.
I did not see that one coming, and especially not that I would appreciate it. Usually, especially with tablets and phones, the manufacturers want it to be the answer to all questions; Can I work on it? Can I play on it? Can I do my finances with it… whatever it is. But spreading itself too thin makes it also prone to a lot of problems. Even when I bought the Fire, it simply did not assume to be anything more than a hardware extension to their Prime services. I do subscribe to Prime, and with that, it became a perfect match. It is a clear device to make my experience with Amazon for buying, streaming media and reading a lot nicer. And for them, it is a perfect way to lock myself into their environment.
I don’t mind that, since I am a satisfied customer already. I would be hugely disappointed if I were not a Prime subscriber. The thing would feel like a very overpriced bit of self-advertisement to me in that scenario.
This is actually what I appreciate; build something for a special audience, and make their experience with your company better, instead of trying to build something for ‘everyone’.
I think this might be exactly why the Fire Phone was such a huge flop. As this tablet is a personal mobile amazon content consumption device – a phone is a phone first and foremost. THEN it can become something else. But your phone is your basic access to the world for a lot. Not just to one company. And even though the Fire allows a lot of extra functionality, it is and will be an Amazon device. And a phone needs to be far more than that.
The fact that Amazon is able to deliver a high quality device like the 8.9 FIRE HDX with a beautiful display, excellent sound and very nice interactivity for a low price makes also sense because of the lock-in with their store environment and their Prime services. Pretty niche, but pretty nice.