The word “content” is used six times in this 448-word article on the Kindle Fire. Out-of-the box content, the article asserts, along with a decent price, is what accounts for the Fire, clunky as it is, being second only to the iPad in tablet sales. Coincidentally, the article also notes that Amazon is second only to Apple as consumers’ favorite brand.
The Apple vs. Amazon question is, essentially, the Device vs. Content question. Apple is the standard bearer of the device. A gadget-maker, Apple’s goal is to get devices into the hands of the consumer. To Apple, content is leverage. Its strategy is to hold content hostage (iTunes) in order to sell devices. As for the printed word, Steve Jobs once famously said–and didn’t seem to be bothered by saying– that people don’t read anymore.
Conversely, the Amazon strategy is all about providing content, with a solid foundation in the book. The company removes the friction for consumers to get and pay for the content they want. It puts cheaper and cheaper devices into their hands to do this. Amazon doesn’t seem to care if their first generation devices are thought of as “clunky” (Kindle version 1 and Fire version 1.) Interestingly, consumers don’t seem to care either. While Apple devices are rightfully lauded for hitting a design pinnacle no one has been able to achieve before, Amazon devices are snapped up by content-hungry consumers, glad to have a “good enough” access point to the content they want. And the voracious consumption of Kindle books contradicts, of course, the aforementioned position on reading.
It will be interesting to see how the contest between these two companies shapes up. As for me, I will be rooting for the content. Because it is content, not devices, that keep culture and civilization alive.