Contrary to the title above, I’m rather peeved with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, springing on us four new fantastic products, including the first colored Kindle (Fire) for under $200. You see, I had just acquired a Kindle 3 Wi-Fi (now euphemistically called the ‘Kindle Keyboard’) for what I thought was a great bargain (below $120; at the time, Amazon sold it for $139 sans shipping), and had my friend from the US bring it with him to the Philippines.
But if I had only waited another two weeks to behold the new Touch model, I would have definitely chosen one of these sleeker, lighter and just-cooler-to-look-at units. I would have held out for another two months to the November 21, 2011 release.
It may not seem like it, but a year or two from now, people will abhor the Kindle Fire as a primitive tool, with newer models taking its place.
(How likely is it that a future model will be called the ‘Kindle Ice’?)
HUMANS ARE NEVER CONTENT; WHAT MISERABLE CREATURES!
I guess the superseding of one’s gadgets is the price to pay for competitive, free markets: entrepreneurs are always anticipating how to better please customers, and customers are never satisfied with their lot. Which might seem bad and superficial; but then, what if we stopped ‘wanting more’ during the time of carriages, candlesticks and quill pens? And is it so shallow to desire the cure for cancer or AIDS?
PRICES ARE NOT A MATTER OF KINDNESS
I do have to take exception to Bezos’ statement that “there are two kinds of companies”:
those that work hard to charge customers more, and those that work hard to charge customers less
which is obviously a dig at Apple, whose iPad is more than twice the price of the Kindle Fire. It’s a great line, and I half-fall for it, even though I know that in economics, entrepreneurs can only charge so much before consumers shift preferences. And the ability to provide cheap products has more to do with sufficient capital accumulation and efficient processes than the kindness of businessmen. Are we supposed to believe that Amazon would be able to sell the same number of units if their products were priced higher?
Bezos’ quip is definitely a PR-catchy thing to say, but it’s just untrue. At best, we can take Bezos’ words to mean that he derives a mental satisfaction from providing such excellent products, apart from the financial remuneration (but so does Steve Jobs, I’m sure).
I LOVE AMAZON/KINDLE
Having made that criticism, I admit to having acquired a bias for Amazon products, as opposed to Apple, Sony, Samsung, etc. First of all, there’s the potential-antitrust-suit advantage of purchasing stuff on the largest online store, Amazon. I love the free e-books and convenience of Whispernet downloading.
But more importantly, even as I kind of get caught up in the ‘technology race,’ I have fairly simple demands when it comes to this type of gadget: the ability to read e-books, and maybe a little internet capability. For my preference, the Kindle is most suited. I’m fairly sure many iPad readers can’t even read the alphabet, and that’s fine.
The great Ludwig von Mises, who was born 130 years ago yesterday, termed this manifestation of different preferences among market players as “consumer sovereignty.” Freeing markets is a boon not just to the ‘profiteers,’ but their patrons.