“People don’t want gadgets any more . . . they want services that improve over time. They want services that improve every day, every week, and every month.” – Jeff Bezos
Yesterday Amazon’s Jeff Bezos unveiled the companies new foray into the tablet and e-reading marketspace. Along with the new hardware Bezos also called out Apple, Google and OEM’s everywhere over his perceived view of the consumer electronics market as a whole. Bezos makes it very clear to everyone, people aren’t looking for gadgets, they want services.
Of course this stance is wrong, wrong on oh so many levels. Take the most well known device out there, the iPhone.
“We think basically you watch television to turn your brain off, and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on.” -Steve Jobs
Do you want to know why the original iPhone sold so well? Because its hardware and software worked together to form a cohesive whole. No one had done what Apple had done, no one had made such a starkly beautiful device before. No one had crafted a phone out of aluminum and glass, as if it had sprung fully formed from the mind of Jobs himself. Add in software that performed miraculously and a feeling of genuine magic. Suddenly you inspire want, not even just want people needed the new iPhone. It became a status symbol, if you had it you were in, if not tough shit buy an iPhone, then join the club. The iPhone seemed to say “Look at me, I’m beautiful and I know it, but I’m not ostentatious, I’m not gaudy, but I’m not plain either. I’m classy. My body is refined, and everything physical about me is perfect. Don’t let that fool you though, I’m more than just a pretty face. My software is smooth, and dipped in gloss and shine. I know how you work, how your work drives you. I can help you. You want me, I know you do, I’m everything you’ve been looking for. And you can have me, for a price.” The iPhone was the mother of all gadgets, and it didn’t hurt that Apple’s music and video services were pretty kickass too.
Compare this to the new Kindle Fire.
Do you think the Kindle Fire will ever be a status symbol? Will it ever inspire need or even a want? Probably not. But Amazon would like you to buy one anyway. Sure the hardware seems to say “Look I’m not very pretty, but I’m cheap and better than nothing, turn the lights off and look at my screen and you won’t even notice”, and the software kinda nudges you and says “I may be a knockoff of Android, and may not even have all the apps you’re used too, but hey I have a web browser. Oh also look you can buy stuff from Amazon!” and taken together the Fire sorta says ”Look you can see what actor is in the movie you’re watching, then we will let you know what other movies that actor appears in so you can buy them! Oh I even recommend stuff for you, based on the stuff you buy, so you can buy more stuff! Oh also I’m going to use your lockscreen to display ads to try and sell you more stuff. What you don’t want ads on your lockscreen? Well you can just pay me to remove them!  Haha just kidding ads are here forever!”
Amazon would like us to believe that services are our future. That design doesn’t matter so much when we can just sit back and consume, and consume, and consume some more. If that’s our future, count me out. I’ll stick with beauty and refinement. Give me a device I can use to be productive, that isn’t afraid to get a little proverbial dirt on its hands. Leave base consumption to the cheap and ill designed.