Did Amazon’s Kindle Announcements Out-Apple Apple?

My day job is in client facing sales and service, so I spend a great deal of time making sure I present my message correctly. First, we establish the basic facts. Then there’s a discussion of what they mean, implications, risks, etc. Finally, these all lead to the conclusion and (ideally) the implementation of whatever solution we think is best. While my presentations are far, far less flashy than a big tech announcement, I still like to see how companies hype up their products, especially since that showmanship does overlap with my own skills and job needs.

Normally, Apple announcement day is a big one. It’s exciting, there’s lots of buzz around the products, and there is always a polished, well designed presentation that builds excitement until it peaks with a big flashy product launch…and then, of course, there’s the thrill of the “And one more thing…” that Steve Jobs was so famous for tossing out there. I remember following the original iPhone announcement, where it started with a discussion of making a great music player. Then the discussion turned to a great web browsing device. Then to a great phone. And of course, the end result is that you can have all three in one package, and everyone is practically frothing at the mouth with excitement.

That’s why today was so intensely disappointing for me. There was no attempt to build excitement; Apple simply had a utilitarian rundown of new products. By starting with the most hyped one, the iPhone 5, the momentum died off quickly. By the time it got to a revamped iTunes, then faded out with a musical performance, it just felt like this wasn’t up to Apple’s usual standards. It felt more like a very hyped corporate board meeting. Top of the agenda was the flagship item, and then they worked their way down to the minor stuff, and wrapped up to go have coffee and pastries.

Now, let’s go back and compare that to what Amazon’s announcements were like. They started with new Kindles with backlights. Exciting, but exactly what was expected. Then they moved into a revamped and cheaper Kindle Fire. Okay, getting a bit more intriguing. At that point, you know something better is coming…and Amazon didn’t disappoint with the Kindle Fire HD, the Kindle Fire 8.9in, and then right when it looked like that was already an exciting lineup, they dropped in the Fire 4G. They went from the expected to the totally unexpected, and they did it with style and showmanship.

Today Apple just seemed to lack that same vigor. They could have opened with new iTunes, the yawner of the announcements. Then move into the Nano refresh, followed by the iPod Touch…which would have teed up the iPhone 5 perfectly. Once the iPhone 5 was announced and demoed, and it was the very last thing everyone had heard about, then queue up the band and close up the day. That would have made it a far more exciting presentation, where the expectations are on what’s coming. Instead, I know my coworkers and I spent the whole presentation debating, “iPhone 5 up front? Is the iPad Mini coming today?”

I feel as thought I have an Apple announcement day hangover; it seemed like it would be such a fun party but it left me with a bad headache and a sense that mistakes were made.

Am I being too harsh on Apple? Were you bored to tears as well? Let us know in the comments!

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5 replies

  1. The iPhone is a fantastic device, and I think it doesn’t matter how it’s announced. The theater of the announcement is no longer important for the iPhone – it is, and will remain, and immensely successful product. The Kindle Fire is not there yet, and the presentation is more important for that device and brand.

    • It’s no lie that Apple could have a silent release not having any press event and still sell millions of products without an issue. I also believe that Apple has the market locked in to the point where advertising could be used just as a write off. Bottom line, they don’t need super flashy press events to sell anything.

      With that said, I agree with Carly an think they missed the mark here. Not that it was not a good keynote, but when you are on top like Apple is, it’s your job to go over the top. I don’t even prefer Apple products but I still very much enjoy keynotes, product announcements, and huge productions. I won’t even buy off on any kind of strategy for Apple here, in the past they were big, over the top, and lot’s of fun to watch. Not so much this time around.

      I know regardless of any of this Apple products will sell millions on pre orders alone, while they make solid devices this time around there was not shock and awe factor, so you would think the presentation would at least get it going. When you are on top you are expected to act as Apple, Samsung, Google, MS, etc all have and do currently, just didnt see it this time around.

      • It’s called resting on your laurels.

        This has the weird feeling I got when Palm started to do the same. RIM did as well. You HAVE to innovate to keep relevant. Apple did innovate but in a hard area….the dock connector. That improvement is only so they can facilitate their new design which is nice, but to be honest looks a lot like the old one. PLUS the adapter is UGLY. REAL ugly and really not like Apple at all.

        There were a lot of things they could have done. They could have done something similar to what Google has done with the unlocked Nexus. They could have added NFC. They could have made some bold changes here but they didn’t. It just feels like the next iteration and it indeed is.

        I am sure it will sell millions, but at some point it’s got to feel like….is that all? Where’s my 5 inch iPhone? Some really like the Galaxy Note because of the screen. I wouldn’t have phone for a 5 inch phone on any platform but there would have been a group that would love it.

        Some of the Apple guys are saying the iPhone is stable and trying to do more would have not been a good idea. Possibly but at some point they have to do something completely unexpected. Making speed and spec bumps is ok, but sometimes you got to do something new. Something unique and inspiring. Something that doesn’t just equate to adding a whole bunch of stuff Android devices already had (bigger screen and LTE). Something that really gets people excited. I am sure that some are excited. Over what I am not sure. However at some point people will start to lose interest. Might take a while, but if they don’t make a bigger leap, the next iPhone could be a dud…

  2. I think the Amazon show was flashier, but the actual content announced? No.

    Apple’s products still look stylish and well built (except the new Nano – not liking that) even if the show was straightforward.

    Amazon’s products look the way they cost – cheap – and are still apparently laggy. The show was almost necessary to distract. They will still sell well, I’m certain because of the low pricepoints.

    • Something to remember Chris – Apple and Amazon have very different price targets. As of this summer, the $299 iPod Touch 32GB cost estimate was $120 – 150, whereas the $199 Kindle Fire bill of materials estimate was $150 – 180. So it is not correct to look at retail pricing and assess ‘cheapness’ … it is much more complex.