All eyes may be on Apple's iPhone announcement next week, but on Wednesday night, Amazon strategically "leaked" an ad for its newest line of Kindle e-readers and tablets a day ahead of the company's planned launch event for those products.
Check out Amazon's teaser video embedded at the bottom of the page.
Amazon is expected to hold a press conference later in the day Thursday, which many believe will see the unveiling of new Kindle devices, including a sequel to the Kindle Fire, unofficially dubbed "Kindle Fire 2."
"We're the people with the smile on the box," Amazon said in its minute-long commercial, which aired during the NFL's first game of the season between the Cowboys and the Giants. "We're the reinventors of normal. We dream of making things that change your life, and then disappear into your everyday. Of making the revolutionary routine. Our accomplishments are things you barely think about, but can't imagine not having. Connecting your mouse to your front door is our moon landing. Creating Kindle, our four-minute mile. Customer reviews, our light bulb. And when we build you something new, you can expect everything to change a little more. Look around: What once seemed wildly impractical is now completely normal. And normal just begs to be messed with."
The teaser ad drips with Apple phraseology, especially the bits about "making the revolutionary routine," and "disappearing into your everyday," and it seems like Amazon wanted to create its own version of Apple's famous commercial, "Here's to the Crazy Ones."
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Amazon's new ad may not be remembered in the same way as Apple's influential commercial, but it certainly does its job: Excite people for Thursday's Kindle unveiling.
Amazon has not confirmed any details about its next-generation of e-readers and tablets, but most analyst expect a Kindle Fire 2, as well as a brand-new Kindle model with a "Paperwhite" display for those who prefer backlit screens for reading their e-books with e-ink -- basically, Amazon's version of Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight.
We don't know what's new in Amazon's Kindle Fire 2, but we don't believe Amazon will do much to alter the tablet's charcoal and orange appearance. If Amazon makes the tablet bigger or smaller, this is likely not the emphasis of the new model; rather, it's more likely that the Kindle Fire 2 will run on a superior operating system to its predecessor, especially since customers had so many complaints with the device.
Many early customers of the original Kindle Fire filed complaints about the tablet's lack of an external volume control, or how easy it is to hit the off switch by accident. Furthermore, users have said Web pages take too long to load on Amazon Silk and the browser lacks a privacy feature. Currently, any friend or family member can pick up an Amazon Kindle Fire and know exactly what its previous user was looking at.
In addition to the bugs and software issues, analysts and critics have serious concerns about the usability of the Kindle Fire going forward, especially in the reading experience. The search mode is outdated and lacks a real prioritization engine, headlines can't be clicked on, and "page" and "text" views are borderline unreadable. Furthermore, despite the Kindle Fire's lack of physical buttons, many reviewers say they actually prefer the buttons on the older Kindle design better, simply because the small touch-screen buttons on the Fire don't let you see what you're clicking on. This has led to "frequent tap errors and accidental activation," whether it's for inputting text or simply browsing through articles and magazines.
Amazon would be smart to tackle these specific issues with the Kindle Fire's reading experience in the sequel. After all, before the Fire came along, the Kindle line was known for its incredible e-book reading experience. Amazon needs to get back to the basics of what made its e-reader line great in the first place, and apply them to the color, multi-touch experience on the Fire.
Whatever Amazon unveils on Thursday, whether it's two or as many as six new tablet and e-reader models, it's likely those devices will be kept at a low price point to stay competitive with Google's Nexus 7 ($199), Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet ($199), and Apple's soon-to-be-unveiled iPad Mini.
The release dates of the individual Kindle devices is also unknown, but if Amazon's history is an indicator of its future, the Kindle Fire 2 could release more than a month after Thursday's announcement. Last year, Amazon unveiled the Kindle Fire on Sept. 28, but released the sucker on Nov. 15. If you do the math, that's 48 days of waiting. Amazon would be keen to cut down on that waiting time if it hopes to sell its new tablet before Apple's iPad Mini (expected in October), which could blow the 7-inch tablet competition out of the water.
Stay tuned to IBTimes later today for more information coming from Amazon's Kindle event.