After watching Amazon's Kindle event last week, I wanted to write something about how interesting and important that I thought that it was. Luckily for me, John Gruber has tackled it, far better than I could have:
"First, Jeff Bezos is likable and credible. Second, there was a clear message, a narrative, a logical order to the announcements. Third, it looked good — the slides, the videos, the stage itself. Fourth, and most importantly, the announced products were very appealing. It was a simple, cohesive, and true message."
John isn't being hyperbolic — Amazon's presentation was pretty good. To me, what's most important about Amazon is that they have emerged as Apple's most serious competitor. I've been worried for awhile that Apple doesn't really have any competition. I feel like Apple does a fair job competing against themselves (and more appropriately, against their past products), but having a true competitor (or two) can really help you stay focused, and help ensure that your products are balanced and providing the right functionality.
And the fact that Amazon unveiled several important, new, innovative features, like:
Immersion reading — simultaneously reading an eBook and listening to the audio version.
Sync between audio books and physical books — making it easy to switch back and forth between audio and text versions of a book.
X-Ray for movies and books — brings extra information from the Internet right into a movie or book.
Kindle FreeTime — smart usage controls for kids.
Reinforces the notion that Apple isn't hitting all of the innovations that it could. I agree with John Siracusa, in a point that he made on Hypercritical (starting at about the 63 minute mark): several of these features should have been implemented by Apple first. The fact that Amazon, with their FreeTime feature, now has obviously superior parental controls to what Apple offers in iOS should be embarrassing to a company that prides itself on making computers that are friendly towards children.
And while it's true, as Gruber points out, that Amazon and Apple are pursuing different strategies, I still think that these companies are going to compete, and that competition is going to make better devices and services for us, the consumers. And that's a great thing.