The tablet PC market has been largely a one horse race, with Apple in the lead mainly because the company has done of a good job of providing customers with what they want. The other players have had a hard time figuring out what customers want, let alone being able to provide it. Well, one future entrant is aiming to fix that by going straight into the horse’s mouth.
On the eve that the Kindle Fire becomes available, Amazon is aiming to get extremely close to their buyers to see and hear what they want and what they plan to do with their devices. One of the members of our team in the San Francisco area pre-ordered a Kindle Fire in early November (the company says that it will begin shipping on November 15) and on November 11, he received the following email:
Congratulations! You are one of the first people to buy an Amazon Kindle Fire! We at Amazon highly value our customers’ opinions and would like to invite you to participate in a study on how people use their new Kindle Fire devices.
This study has two parts:
Part 1: A 90-minute weekday visit to your home to observe you opening Kindle Fire for the first time. If you participate, you will receive a $100.00 Amazon gift certificate for your help.
Part 2: A 90-minute group discussion in Cupertino, California, at 6:30 p.m. on December 15 to talk about your ongoing experience with your Kindle Fire. A light dinner will be provided. If you participate, you will receive a $50.00 Amazon gift certificate and a choice of select Kindle accessories for your time.
All consumer brands do some level of customer research, that’s not new. What is interesting about this research is the timing and the user focus. The study is done at two vital times: upon the first impression and early into the ownership period. This is when it becomes clear if the device is living up to expectations and, if not, what can be done to change things.
We have noted the challenges with the traditional retail channel in selling a tablet, which we have argued is a much more experience-based device as opposed to the bells and whistles focus of older hardware devices. Other brands have been trying new methods to shake up the tablet PC buying experience, and retailers are also being more aggressive about focusing on the tablet selling experience.
This study seems particularly intimate with a focus on learning about the user experience, which we believe will be a beneficial exercise as brands try to compete in their emerging device category.