Sunday, September 21, 2014

Amazon Changes Brand Strategy With Release of New Tablets

This week, Amazon rolled out a bunch of new Amazon Fire tablets, along with a new Kindle e-reader.

This includes the launch or updates of:

  • Fire 6" tablet
  • Fire 7" tablet
  • Fire HDX 8.9" tablet
  • Fire HD Kids Edition
  • Kindle Voyager e-reader
I'm not going to review the products. Instead, what was not really highlighted in these product announcements was how Amazon has changed its brand strategy for its tablets because of all the other recently-launched devices.

The new Amazon tablets no longer include the "Kindle" sub-brand before "Fire". They are now just called Amazon Fire tablets. But when the first Amazon tablet came out at the end of 2011, it was launched as the Amazon Kindle Fire. (I was a proud owner of one.) At the time, that made sense because the Kindle e-reader was wildly successful and had great brand equity as an Amazon hardware. By launching the Fire with the Kindle sub-brand, it was an easy way to communicate to consumers that this was the same great e-reader you have come to love and expect from Amazon, but now you have an Android-based tablet too!

That worked well for the Kindle Fire tablets for a few years until Amazon started expanding its consumer electronics devices, and e-readers became viewed as "old school" single-function devices.

So, the "Kindle" brand must evolve too. It has morphed from just an e-reader device brand to really a reading platform. By that I mean, there's the Kindle hardware, but there's also the software, which is the Kindle app that can be downloaded on almost any mobile device or tablet on all the major O/S's. And the integration between the Kindle app across all the devices one may own is amazing, being able to continue a book you're reading as you switch from one device to another! The Kindle app has also popped up as a suggested reader now when I download attachments from my emails on my Samsung Galaxy S phone. And so "Kindle" is really a great brand to associate to reading anything on anything!

Sure, there's still the low-tech, no-longer-growing aspect of this category. (But they're still taking the Nook to the cleaners by the way!) And that's a big reason why you don't want to hitch the "Kindle" brand to Amazon's other faster-growing, sexier products. 

Enter "Fire" 

The "Fire" sub-brand, which was introduced with the original Kindle Fire, has come a long way in 3 years. Along with many iterations of Kindle Fire tablets, 2 new high-profile Amazon Fire products were released this year.

The Amazon Fire TV introduced in April as a TV streaming device. With all the content Amazon has made available on its tablets, this was a natural extension in the battle for consumers in the living room. They face a host of competitors, including Apple, Google, Roku, and others. 

Then in July, Amazon finally took the covers off its much-rumored Fire phone. The high-tech smartphone has some unique features such as its Dynamic Perspective feature, X-Ray find feature, Firefly, and the extension of its Mayday service from its tablets to the phone. The reviews were mixed on this smartphone, especially given its price tag.

Taken together, Amazon's tablets, streaming TV device, and smartphone all make sense under the "Fire" sub-brand (sans "Kindle"). The "Fire" sub-brand can now be extended from just a tablet association to more of a high-tech, cool and sexy, multimedia entertainment devices association. The last thing you want to do is associate all this advanced technology in growth markets to an "e-reader and then some" brand!

So, I say bravo to Amazon's marketing team for making this brand transition at this juncture.


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