Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The most interesting thing about the Kindle announcements

I found Amazon's announcement Wednesday to be very interesting. Almost unexpected. And I don't mean the Fire or Silk parts. Or the pricing of the Fire. What I found really interesting was this: Yeah, just the line of new products. But that's it. A whole line of products. A new low-end, improvements to the e-Ink, removal of the keyboard (more on that later). Not just retaining the old models, and maybe lowering the price, just to appeal to cheapskates. You'd think that based on rumor, and pretty much every other review or comment coming up to this, or today.
A key reason I like seeing stuff like this is that it continues to vindicate the scope of Designing Mobile Interfaces. A year ago, when Eric and I started writing it, there was lots of discussion about how much we'd focus on iOS. "Um, not really at all." So, also Android... And Blackberry? No, there are plenty of those sorts of books. We made a mobile design book. For all of mobile. Check out this pattern on Keyboards & Keypads for one example. In there we talk not just about the best way to make a touchscreen keyboard (and we don't just say "do what iOS does" but also hardware keyboards, also keypads and triple tap, and even scroll-and-select virtual keyboards. Wait, why does that sound familiar? Look close. Scroll-and-select keyboard. Really. On a top tech story. Not just because my PVR does it, or my GPS, or I examined a lot of products and it's just a way to do it, not that... Oh, yeah. Because the new low-end Kindle uses that exact system. And why? Hell if I know. I don't work there. I'd guess that they found people don't type as much as expected. And it helps make the price point, and so on. They don't do this stuff randomly.
And that brings up the point you actually care about. If your mobile strategy is to make an iOS app, or you are updating your product to have a color touchscreen, and you abandoned the old way, you are probably doing it wrong. Amazon is not good at everything, but they are pretty good at some stuff. And selling eReaders is one of those. I am not the sort of designer who takes everything Amazon (or Apple) does, and slavishly copies it. But Amazon is a mass-market success story, and with the Kindle they had amazing success with a pretty new class of product, which they are clearly trying to make available to everyone possible. New technology doesn't always have to be expensive, new versions don't have to be cutting edge, and the low-end is a huge market. Are you focusing on the bigger market, or just what you think is cool? If you like everything I said, and think your product needs some thinking like this, maybe we can work together. Go ahead and contact me about it.

No comments: