Kindle commercial – differentiation in action

Kindle's killer "app" so to speak is its display: It works outdoors.

Kindle likes the Sun
Where's the iPads? Kindle, sexy again...
Kindle likes the Sun
Where’s the iPads? Kindle, sexy again…

The new Kindle television commercial is clever, even if for a moment I wanted to reach for a Corona. Hit hard by Apple iPad—the uber-sexy do-all-device that everyone is lusting after—Amazon has been forced to drop the price of its rather pedestrian (but very useful) eReader (starting at $189). Make no mistake, the Kindle has been a sales success and with the backing of Amazon’s massive arsenal of books has several advantages in its corner.

But its killer “app” so to speak is its display: It works outdoors.

And where are people spending their vacations and family time this summer? You guessed it, outdoors of course; this is America, no?! Sadly, iPad and the sun don’t get along (at least not yet, but I have a hunch a hybrid display is in the works for the next generation model) so it makes plenty of marketing sense that Amazon would go for the jugular. Hey, Kindle looks sexy on the beach. It’s even more popular then iPad (well, at least for a sunny moment). Meantime, iPad sits indoors pale and glum.

The new ad is all about differentiation, and an example of using a core strength for advantage. The assumption here (and I’m sure it’s based on market research) is that buyers will place a higher premium on using the eReader outdoors, than they will on the additional features iPad provides. To my eyes at least, it’s a compelling proposition.

If Amazon were to go toe-to-toe with iPad on Apple’s terms—as a netbook replacement—it would lose. The Kindle is first-and-foremost an eReader. You use it to download and read digital books. And it does this very well.

Last night as I left the gym (first time in weeks to start rehab on my torn MCL – as the world turns, yes), I wanted to ask Loni, to see if she could guess what the latest Kindle commercial I had just seen on TV was trumpeting. Before I could even begin she said, “The sun, right?!” Exactomondo. Amazon has already, whether we consumers know it or not, cleverly programmed us into realizing that there are times when Apple iPad is not the right product.

Oddly, just as we walked down the stairs to our car in the parking lot, an elderly Asian man asked if the two of us were fighting, and that we should be kind to each other. I told him we were just talking, normally, and smiled. He didn’t seem to believe us. I guess topics like tech marketing and differentiation can get people like Loni and I excited and agitated; arms flailing, heightened conversational volume.

How well this latest market messaging works in driving additional sales remains to be seen. And it’s definitely a short-term tactic. When Apple releases a hybrid screen (soup-to-donuts I say – just a matter of time), then the advantage will be obviously lost; with hybrid an iPad could provide the best of both worlds: a bright, colorful indoor display for surfing and magazines, and a somewhat drab, but readable e-ink display for sunny days. Now that would really grab attention at the beach!

Amazon Kindle Commercial: I love the beach!

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