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Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce
I am on fire, in more ways than one. First, I just purchased a Kindle Fire tablet from Amazon.com Inc. Second, that brings my mobile device count up to three—an iPhone, an iPad and a Kindle Fire. Third, that brings my form factor count up to three—small (3.5-inch screen, 4.9 ounces), medium (7-inch screen, 14.6 ounces) and large (9.7-inch screen, 1.44 pounds). And fourth, that brings my mobile platform count up to two—Apple’s iOS and Google Inc.’s Android. I’ve got all my bases covered. (And please, don’t say what about BlackBerry and Windows. BlackBerry is dead in the water, and Windows is too late to the game.)
I bought the Kindle Fire in part to expand my horizons when it comes to experience with mobile platforms. I’m an Apple loyalist to the core, but I wanted an Android in my arsenal. I also bought the Kindle Fire because, frankly, I just had to have one. The device is that cool. Not to mention the fact that I’ve been reading Kindle e-books for years using the free Kindle app on my iPhone and iPad, and the Kindle Fire is the best form factor for reading e-books.
What I find myself doing is using the iPhone anywhere and everywhere, using the iPad at home on the couch and at work, and using the Kindle Fire during the commute and at home on the couch and in bed. But the Kindle Fire added a new twist to my mobile activities: My shopping is drifting to the Fire. (I should make clear that I’m a loyal customer of Amazon.com.)
What the Kindle Fire confirms for me is that Amazon.com will remain the top mobile retailer for many years to come, to say the least. It’s No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300, having raked in $2 billion in 2011 through its m-commerce site, tablet site, and various smartphone and tablet apps. It’s achieved this success through constant innovation using mobile technology. And the Kindle Fire is the perfect example of how Amazon will stay on top.
It came ready for me out of the box. I bought it online on the desktop site, and obviously Amazon knew it was me. Unbelievably, it came out of the box saying “Bill’s Kindle” on the screen, asked me to confirm a couple of facts about myself, and then it was ready for one-touch buying. I immediately had a shopping machine in my hands. The Amazon Kindle App is an elegant and efficient program optimized for that 7-inch screen that allows you to browse and search so easily—and buy even more easily with one-touch buying. Once you’ve got a Kindle in your hand, Amazon’s got you. You’re going to shop on that device. And you’re going to buy merchandise from them.
Amazon has not released Kindle Fire sales figures, saying only that sales for all Kindle devices grew 177% in the nine-week period ending Dec. 31, 2011, compared with the same period the year prior. It says the Kindle Fire was its best-selling product among all products on the site during that same 2011 period. Research firm IDC says Amazon sold 4.7 million Kindle Fire devices—just the Fire, not the whole line of Kindles—in Q4 2011, its debut quarter. By comparison, Apple says it sold 15.4 million iPads in Q4 2011. The Kindle Fire truly is on fire, even if it can’t quite match the iPad’s scorching sales figures.
When a web-only retailer can reach out and grab consumers with hardware that for shopping replaces the desktop and the smartphone, it’s an amazing achievement. All I can say is, you better make sure you have an efficient and cool Android app for all those Kindle Fire users. They’re going to be getting very used to shopping on that device through Amazon.com. And when they want to shop at other favorite retailers, those retailers better be in the Amazon Appstore.