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Kindle Fire HD has, by all indications, been selling well. Kindle Fire is, according to various surveys, the #3 best-selling tablet after Apple and Samsung. Kindle Fire was #2 in the US in the 2012 Holiday Season.
It’s worth taking a look at Kindle Fire HD Pain Points. It’ll give us a better idea of areas in which Amazon can improve Kindle Fire HD and mount a stronger challenge in the Tablet Wars.
Please Also See: Kindle Fire HD Issues & Workarounds post that covers Top 10 Kindle Fire HD Issues.
Kindle Fire HD Pain Points – Top 9 Kindle Fire HD Pain Points
Please check out the Kindle Fire HD Issues & Workarounds post for solutions to most of the below issues. In this post we’re just covering a quick suggestion or workaround.
Kindle Fire HD Pain Points – A Workaround for Flash
Here’s a solution for Flash from Laura M. Dean -
With the latest update for the Kindle Fire, Amazon has added a feature to Silk called the “Experimental Streaming Viewer” that should allow many Flash-based videos to be played on the Fire. I have tested it with CBS, NBC and ABC, and it works. More info:
Go to the Web tab > Menu > Settings > Accelerated page loading > turn on.
This will turn on two other settings:
- Enable Flash Forward
- Prompt for experimental streaming viewer
Complete information is here, including how to use the viewer:
Hopefully this works.
Kindle Fire HD Pain Points – Thoughts
It’s very surprising to see a few things -
Overall, Kindle Fire HD does slightly better than Kindle Fire 1 did on pain points. However, there are still way too many pain points. It’s very encouraging to see Amazon add the ‘Experimental Streaming Viewer’.
What are your Kindle Fire HD pain points? What things would you most like fixed and/or added?
Over the years, various people, almost always non-technical, have asked me to recommend the best tablet for their needs. Note: This post talks about real life, not online.
As opposed to online, in real life, people aren’t looking at a Tablet as an extension of their relationship with a favorite company, an extension of a philosophy, an accessory, or a statement of who they are.
They simply want to do X (sometimes X and Y and Z), and they wonder if a Tablet is a good choice.
Here are the two things that really surprised me -
All of this is anecdotal evidence, so take it with a shaker of salt.
The two things that keep striking me are -
Note: This is over a time period of 3 years. The data points have stayed consistent.
Do people not need PCs any more?
Not really. Most people don’t.
This goes against every single assumption I could make about the future of PCs and Tablets. There should be no reason for Tablets to be preferable to a PC. It’s like a Ninja choosing a butter knife instead of a katana.
However, in real life, it seems most people don’t really need a Personal Computer any more. They don’t need a desktop or a laptop. They just need a Consumption & Communication device. Most people aren’t ninjas – they just want to butter their toast.
Tablets are portable, they are focused on consumption, they are dead simple to use. They are cheap.
People never mention that iPad provided 80% of people’s computing needs at 50% of the price of most laptops and PCs. Apple didn’t win with magic fairy dust. It won on value and ease of use. If you think back to when iPad was introduced, everyone assumed it would be $1,000. $499 was a stunning price.
Most importantly, iPad covered 80% of what people wanted a computer for. It was a GREAT personal consumption device.
Whether we admit it or not, the world is moving to a state where we’ve run out of work for people to do. There just isn’t that much time needed to do your core work. 70% to 80% of people’s waking time is, or will soon be, taken up by consumption – news, weather, entertainment, movies, sports, books, communication with friends and family, watching photos, sharing how you feel about the bird fluttering by, sending a photo of your sandwich to the only 2,313 people in the world who care.
Tablets fit in perfectly. Perhaps 50% to 70% of people can survive on Tablets.
If you really think about a future world where robots handle a lot of the work and there are very few ‘critical’ jobs – 75% to 90% of the developed world’s population will simply have to find things to do with their free time. That’ll be humanity’s greatest challenge (it’s only partly sarcasm) – to amuse people who don’t know what to do with their free time.
iPad is perhaps the Best Tablet for nearly everyone who can get by on a Tablet
iPad is unencumbered. It doesn’t try to solve any problem other than provide people a consumption device.
iPad’s competitors keep trying to solve big problems like ‘providing a great keyboard’ and ‘providing content creation and not just consumption’. That’s like a movie theater company trying to educate its audience instead of entertain it.
There are a few things that make iPad the best tablet for nearly anyone who uses a Tablet in the Consumption-Enabler sense-
The last one is interesting. There are so many Android Tablets, and there will be so many Windows 8 Tablets, that sooner or later companies will stumble across the formula. However, it’ll be fortuitous and not the result of a well-planned strategy. On the other hand, a company that goes after Consumption hard could potentially blow up the iPad and iPad Mini.
7″ Tablets were a continuation of the iPad ‘Personal Consumption’ focus, just cheaper
The rise of 7″ Tablets was very interesting.
iPad Mini was necessary due to the low price and high ‘consumption coverage’ of 7″ Tablets. It delivered.
iPad Mini is a distillation of the iPad. It caters to 80% of the Personal Consumption Needs of Consumers for just $329 (65% of the price).
Android Tablets will continue to rise. There are just so many of them that enough of them will hit the sweet point sooner or later – Cover most of the core consumption needs AND do it at a cheap price point.
Microsoft Tablets will rise once they get CHEAPER ones out. There are rumors of $249 and $299 Windows 8 Tablets that have 7″ screens. Those might really hurt iPad Mini if they understand that consumers are looking for consumption enabling and consumption enhancing devices.
iPad and iPad Mini will continue to be the Best Tablet available. Unfortunately, as prices of competing tablets drop, consumers will choose cheaper options.
Why is iPad the Best Tablet available?
Well, firstly, no one else is approaching Tablets the right way -
Apple is the only company that’s focused on the Tablet as a Personal Consumption device. Perhaps Personal Consumption Enhancer is the most accurate term.
iPad and iPad Mini are optimized for consumption -
A succinct way of putting it would be – Nothing comes between you and your enjoyment of free time on an iPad Mini.
Add on to this the additional stuff -
All of this, and numerous other advantages, mean that iPad is the Best Tablet available. If you were to give ANY user 2-3 weeks with all Tablets. If they were free of any allegiances or prejudices (which, admittedly, is very unrealistic), they would choose the iPad 90% or more of the time.
Perhaps the more accurate statement would be – the iPad would meet their needs 90% of the time. It would meet their needs better 90% of the time.
In some cases, it’s absolutely irrefutable evidence – a much-needed app is only available on the iPad. In other cases, it’s harder to explain things – a much easier to use email program. However, that 90% estimate seems correct to me.
iPad is the Best Tablet and its destined to die on its own sword
iPad will die for the same reason that Netbooks were killing Laptops before iPad took over that duty. For the same reason that iPad is eating away at PC Desktop Sales.
People want more for less. Often they are willing to take less for less – especially if they think they are getting more for less.
Apple told users – Why pay $1,000 for that laptop? Here’s an iPad Tablet. For $499 you can do 80% of what you do. Apps are cheap, so all the software is cheap. The software and hardware might not let you do 100% of what a laptop does, but the software and hardware cover 70% to 80% of what a PC does.
It established precedent. It became OK to cut down what you could do with your Personal Computer/Consumption-Enabler.
As long as you got cheaper hardware and much cheaper software in return.
Now, Amazon and Google are telling users – Why pay $499/$329 for that iPad/iPad Mini? For $199 you can do 70% of what you do on an iPad Mini. Apps are free now – you don’t even have to pay. They might not be as pretty or as polished – but they are free.
Google and Amazon are just continuing down the path Apple started users on.
It’s very interesting in a way. Apple talks about not compromising and focusing on quality. However, with the iPad, it created a precedent of compromise – In what users expected their Personal Computer/Consumption-Enabler to do for them.
There was no compromise on build quality. Just a compromise in what the device can do and, most importantly, what the user could do with their device.
A switch from Consumer+Creator to Consumer+Consumer-Extraordinaire.
The net result is that users now expect cheaper and cheaper hardware and cheaper and cheaper software. And they are willing to compromise to get it.
Netbooks were doing exactly this – offering a compromised experience that focused on consumption and came at a very low price. The PC companies handicapped them because the low price killed their profit margins. It was inevitable that something else would finish the job. That’s where iPad came in. With the added bonus that it was a Luxury Product and a Fashion Statement. A prettier Personal Consumption Enhancer. For half the price. Does 80% of what you do with a PC.
The Age of the Personal Consumption-Enabler and the End of It
When Android and Amazon Tablets eat up the iPad, we’ll enter a newer age – The Age of the Personal Consumption-Enhancer & Advertiser. Where users will say – As long as the hardware is really cheap, and the software is really cheap, it’s fine if this device is mostly focused on consumption. It’s fine if it constantly advertises to me and tracks me and keeps trying to predict my behavior and influence it in subtle ways.
The Age of the Personal Consumption-Enhancer & Advertiser – a world of free-everything. Where the only thing that’s paid for is access to the consumer and to the consumer’s behavior.
There might be a 10% to 20% part of the market that looks for a Personal Computer. Perhaps another 10% to 15% of the market that looks for a Personal Consumption-Enabler. However, the majority of the market is going to shift to a Personal Consumption-Enhancer and Advertiser.
The Personal Consumption-Enhancer & Advertiser will eat away at the Personal Consumption-Enabler, just as the Personal Consumption-Enabler is eating away at the Personal Computer.
If Apple hadn’t introduced an iPad Mini, it would have lost a lot of market share to cheap 7″ Tablets. With the iPad Mini it has only bought itself some time. Apple can’t keep matching prices with Amazon and Google and Microsoft indefinitely. As prices go lower, things get very tough for Apple – it either gives up its great margins, or it gives up market share. It might even end up giving up both – because higher price is a core part of its identity and desirability.
B&N opened up its Nook HD & Nook HD+ Tablets to Google Play Store recently. It also did a massive $50 off and $90 off Sale for Mother’s Day.
This forced Amazon to introduce a temporary $20 discount on the Kindle Fire HD.
Soon after there were reports that B&N was considering selling its Nook unit to Microsoft for $1 billion.
TechCrunch had some additional details and two of these were very interesting (only if true) -
Both of these are very impactful things.
Kindle vs Nook – A Quick look back
Kindle vs Nook has had many twists and turns -
This leaves us in a very interesting position.
When you consider all this context, it’s going to be a bit sad if B&N leaves the Tablet space in April 2014 and the eReader space in early 2015. Kindle vs Nook will just be an old memory.
What happens if B&N leaves the Tablet space?
Not very much for the general Tablet space.
The best-selling Tablets are – Apple, Samsung, Google and Amazon. Depending on what month you check, one out of Google or Amazon has the #3 spot. By Google we mean the Asus manufactured Google Nexus 7.
Nook was perhaps 5th or 6th. The 5th or 6th player leaving a space doesn’t do much.
The one place it creates an impact is in the space of ‘Reading Tablets’ – a nebulous space catering to people who primarily want a Tablet for reading.
For readers, it made more sense to get a Tablet from Amazon or B&N. If B&N exits the space, then Amazon becomes the clear and obvious choice. This would mean a clear boost for Amazon and Kindle Fire HD sales. Which in turn would greatly strengthen Amazon’s lead in ebooks.
B&N’s supposed 2014 and 2015 strategy of ending device sales and focusing on Reading Apps runs into a roadblock – Kindle Fire HD does not have a Nook reading App. If most serious readers looking for a Tablet start picking Kindle Fire HD, B&N loses these readers.
Fundamentally, B&N’s strategy is flawed. The 20% of Readers that account for 80% of book sales tend to pick either a dedicated eInk Reader or physical books or a Reading Tablet. By leaving the Reading Tablet space, B&N leaves all these users to Amazon.
These 20% ‘Best’ Customers are the stars of the rest of this post. Their importance grows as we look at Kindle vs Nook in the dedicated eReader Market.
What happens if B&N leaves the eReader Space?
We could partition out serious readers (‘Best’ Customers for Books) as readers who will buy one or more of -
By leaving the Reading Tablet space, B&N would hand over ‘serious readers’ (the ‘Best’ customers) who want a Reading Tablet to Amazon.
If B&N also leaves the dedicated reading device space (eInk based eReaders), then it also hands over the ‘Best’ Customers who want to buy a device optimized for reading to Amazon.
This creates a huge problem.
Somewhere between 25% to 50% of the ‘Best’ Readers switch over to Amazon.
Of course, this doesn’t factor in that Amazon and B&N have a rough 60% and 30% share of the ‘Best’ readers who have already switched over to eReaders and Reading Tablets. Amazon goes from strong to ridiculously strong. B&N goes from decently strong to very weak – Because the 30% share it already has will move to other devices if B&N stops making eReaders and Reading Tablets.
The Concept of the ‘Best’ Readers
In this age of political correctness, where a customer who spends $1 a year wants to be considered equivalent to a customer who spends $1,000 a year, it is perhaps unacceptable to point out that, in any market, 20% of customers are the ‘Best’ customers. The ones who basically keep the market going. It exists for every market -
Whether it meets the political correctness threshold or not, the truth is that the people contributing 80% of the revenues are the ones who are keeping the industry going.
For example: On Pandora, artists get a few pennies per 1,000 songs streamed. A user might listen to Band X 50,000 times and might generate 50 cents for Band X. However, the customer who buys a concert ticket for $50 is 100 times more important. The customer who buys the CD for $10 is 20 times more important.
This is a critical distinction and this also applies to books, whether the Lives in Switzerland, Recycles 5 times a Day, Warrior Chief of Political Correctness likes it or not.
We have the ‘Best’ Readers that are perhaps just 10% to 20% of the customer base – However, these customers generate 60% to 80% of the revenue. They are, in effect, keeping the books industry alive.
There are two distributions that are generally accepted -
In either case, it’s the Good and Best customers that matter. The remaining customers don’t really matter. Of course, woe to anyone who reminds them of it.
It’s a big assumption to make. However, the facts will bear this out. Facts that only Amazon and B&N have. Which makes B&N’s decision to shift to Reading Apps even stranger.
By ending Reading Tablets and eReaders, B&N would lose the Best Customers and the Good Customers
Firstly, it’s pretty safe to say that the Best customers and the Good customers will end up with a reading Tablet and/or a dedicated reading device (if they go with ebooks). If you’re the exception that proves the rule, you’re exactly that – an exception who reads 53 books a year on your Device X which is not focused on or optimized for reading.
If B&N leaves both spaces, then it leaves behind the 20% to 30% of customers that account for 80% to 90% of book sales.
What does that leave? The remaining huge numbers (70% to 80%). Wow – that’s a lot of users. The only problem – they contribute just 10% to 20% of book sales.
Please keep in mind that this is for ebooks. B&N isn’t walking away from the Best Customers and the Good Customers in Physical Books. However, it is making them Amazon customers (via eReaders and Reading Tablets) and making them likelier to shift.
B&N might be walking away from the core audience it needs to survive
If B&N were to analyze all the data it has on reading patterns and purchase patterns, it would find the following -
It might also find that Nook and Nook Tablet owners account for as much as 25% to 35% of paper book sales from B&N stores.
I would be willing to bet serious money that B&N never took the step of analyzing this data, especially the ebook sales & paper book sales inter-relationship. For that matter, it never even properly tried to build a connection between ebook sales and physical book sales.
By walking away from dedicated eReaders and reading tablets (and this is still an IF, based on rumors and hearsay), B&N is giving up the customers that are accounting for 65% or more of its ebook sales and 25% or more of its paper book sales.
Those users aren’t going to switch back to 100% paper books. They are going to switch to other devices that are optimized for ebooks and reading. Those, rather inconveniently, happen to be from Amazon.
If B&N ends the Nook eReader line and the Nook Reading Tablet line, it would be handing over 50% or more of its Best Customers and its Good Customers (for ebook sales) to other companies, mostly Amazon. If B&N tries to replace dedicated Nook eReaders and Nook Reading Tablets with reading apps for iPad and Android devices and Windows 8 devices, it would be switching from the Best Customers and the Good Customers to the ‘Not so Dedicated’ Readers who account for just 10% to 20% of book sales.
It’s the absolute worst strategy decision B&N could make. We wouldn’t see Kindle vs Nook replaced by Kindle vs B&N Reading Apps, we would see it replaced by Kindle vs Kobo and by Kindle vs Don’t Read. There’s no room for B&N in eBooks if it doesn’t have both a reading focused eInk eReader and a reading focused Reading Tablet.
Kindle Fire HD 2 is probably going to arrive in September or October 2013, roughly a year after Kindle Fire HD arrived.
Amazon has two paths it could take -
We know what path Amazon likes to take – the boring one with incremental improvements.
However, in 2013 and beyond, this might not be enough. Why?
Kindle Fire HD’s competitors are set to improve drastically
We will likely see each of the top 4 Kindle Fire HD competitors improve rapidly and drastically in 2013.
Amazon is in a bit of a pickle. It can’t be Samsung and release 10-20 tablet models a year. It can’t be B&N and give up its entire ecosystem to Google. It definitely can’t be Apple with its large customer base of people who already own Apple hardware - People who tend to prefer Apple products, all other things being equal or close.
This makes it imperative that Kindle Fire HD 2 is -
The problem with incremental improvements is that they don’t really stand out.
The Time for Incremental Kindle Fire HD Improvements is Gone
Let’s say Amazon improves Kindle Fire HD in 8-17 areas via small, incremental improvements -
On paper this sounds good. It also makes Kindle Fire HD competitive with iPad Mini Retina and Nexus 7 2 on paper.
However, iPad Mini and Nexus 7 have much older and stronger and richer ecosystems. What incentive is there for a user to pick Kindle Fire HD 2 instead?
Users need Killer Features to Switch
There’s no Killer Feature in the Kindle Fire HD that will make users say – Yes, iPad might have 350,000 Tablet optimized Apps, and it might be prettier and shinier, but Feature X and Feature Y in the Kindle Fire HD 2 make it the better choice.
The Best Speakers are a Killer Feature only for audiophiles. We need a Killer Feature that applies to 80% of the technology device buying population.
Amazon thinks it can cobble together 10-20 small advantages and turn them into a Killer Feature. However, people want simplicity. They don’t want to read an entire table and add up the little wins.
They want a BIG feature that will get them to buy Kindle Fire HD 2.
Apple understands this and pushes this hard. Siri. Retina Display. FaceTime. Apple will talk about all the improvements. However, it will focus on 1-4 main Killer Features and drum those into users’ heads.
So when the user has to decide what Tablet to buy, the user has a table of 27 technical specifications from one company, and it has a list of 3 Killer Features from Apple.
Guess which device the user goes with more often.
Note: If you notice the Samsung Ads, they don’t just make fun of Apple, they also highlight their own product’s killer features (sometimes even when they aren’t killer features).
A Killer Feature isn’t a tangible thing – At least the Killer Part of it isn’t
It’s almost a construct. Siri isn’t powerful for what it is. It’s powerful for what it speaks to. The message it gives – New! Only With Us! Human! Special! Magical! Your Willing Assistant! Makes You Feel Better! Makes Your Life Simpler!
You could take ANY decent, attractive feature and if you polish it a bit, package it right, and message it right - you have a Killer Feature. This is what Amazon needs to understand. A Killer Feature isn’t always born, sometimes it’s made. Sometimes it’s made out of thin air and emotions and the human touch.
What Killer Features could Amazon add to Kindle Fire HD 2 to make it ‘The Chosen Tablet’ for Holiday 2013
Well, first let’s set some ground rules -
With those ground rules in mind, here are some possible Kindle Fire HD 2 Killer Features -
All of this becomes critical because Kindle Fire HD might have just 1 or 2 years left to make a dent.
Killer Features might be the only way for Kindle Fire HD to survive in the Tablet Market
Consider the things Kindle Fire HD 2 and Amazon will have to work against -
The longer the race goes on, the harder it gets for Amazon to win with Kindle Fire HD. Why? Because more and more people get locked into one of the Big 2 Mobile Ecosystems (Apple, Android). Because the customer attachment and relationship becomes deeper.
The two most powerful ways to break the Apple+Android dominance would be -
These two are easier said than done. If we’re talking about the most realistic path forward, Amazon only has one choice – create/invent/make/add/conjure up really, really strong Killer Features for Kindle Fire HD. Release a phone or a tablet with 2 or 3 Big Important Killer Features and you can carve out enough market share to start building something big. A 3rd mobile ecosystem that can win double digit market share.
Quick Aside: eInk Kindles would be great to create a 3rd Ecosystem
Amazon ignoring eInk Kindles is a bad, bad idea. It could really go after the book and notebook and paper markets and sell 100 million eInk Kindles. It could then do what Apple did – slowly release more products for these loyal users, slowly build up the ecosystem. Amazon should really rethink its lack of focus on eInk Kindles and Readers. This is a $25 to $35 billion a year market (eReaders, Books, Publishers). Perhaps larger. There’s very little competition. Perhaps most importantly, it allows Amazon to create its own iPod and iTunes. To create a hundred million users attached to Amazon devices – all in an Amazon ecosystem.
This was a clear path to success for Amazon. Amazon messed it up by not realizing the real opportunity. It didn’t help that Amazon built two separate App Stores – one for eInk Kindles and one for Kindle Tablets. That same Amazon vulnerability - reinventing the wheel needlessly.
Back to Kindle Fire HD 2 and Killer Features
Amazon needs to get to 100 million devices sold which share the same ecosystem and the same book store and the same app store and the same OS.
Since it has separated eInk Kindles and Kindle Tablets, and since it is reluctant to devote real resources on the eInk Kindles (why focus on a market that has little competition, and where you have the lead, when you could fight for the #3 spot in Tablets), Amazon only has one option.
Succeed wildly with Kindle Fire HD 2 and Kindle Fire HD 3.
Fundamentally, Kindle Fire HD 2 needs Killer Features to succeed. Kindle Fire HD 2 needs Killer Features for there to be a Kindle Fire HD 4. If Amazon doesn’t hit it out of the ballpark with Kindle Fire HD 2, it almost certainly means the end of Kindle Fire and Amazon’s ambitions in the Tablet Space.
Ambulant, prospective creators of an ergonomic Kindle case, have started a Kickstarter to fund an Ergonomic Kindle Case, called the Wingo.
Please Note: This is not an endorsement. I’m just mentioning something interesting. I don’t know whether the case actually is ergonomic or not and I’ve never used it. I also have no relationship with the people making the Wingo. Just looks like something Kindle owners would be interested in.
They aim to collect $55,000. They already have $17,619 collected and still have a massive 29 days to go.
What’s interesting is that they are trying to make an Ergonomic Kindle Case -
There are 90 or so spots left for the $38 Early Bird price.
Do I think an Ergonomic Kindle Case is a good idea?
Yes, very much so.
I use an ergonomic keyboard (Microsoft’s), and it pretty much saved my wrists and hands.
A lot of Kindle owners read a lot. Often for hours at a stretch. Often in awkward positions. It makes sense to get a case that is very ergonomic and keeps your hands and wrists healthy. Even if the ergonomic part is overstated, it should still be more comfortable than existing cases.
Things to be aware of -
Why do they need crowdfunding?
In order to partner with a high quality manufacturer in the U.S. our first order must exceed a minimum number of units for them to take on our project. A manufacturing facility must go through an intricate series of changes to establish a process to produce a product, especially a product like Wingo Case, which is surprisingly complex (from hollow-core internal structures all the way to soft-finishing the exterior).
I think the figure they are going for is really interesting. $55,000 is really small. If they publicize this properly they could easily get $1 million or more. However, no idea if they have any marketing budget and/or a PR firm working with them. I hope they pull it off. It would be good to get an ergonomic Kindle case.