King Gillette And Amazon

Some interesting new research this morning that seems to validate the direction Amazon is taking with the Kindle Fire.  When the tablet first came out, a number of the tech blogs did the obvious comparison to the iPad and found the Fire to be inferior technology.  The research on tablet usage from Zmags seems to show that it was an apples (no pun intended) to oranges comparison.  You should know that Pew Research says the share of U.S. adults who own a tablet nearly doubled from 10% to 19% between mid-December (2011) and early January. They also found that E-reader penetration experienced the same growth during the same time period, so this is an important installed base and it’s only going to get bigger.

So why mention King Gillette and Amazon in the title?

Ever wonder why it’s so easy to get a free razor when you buy a small pack of blades?  King Gillette, who invented the safety razor business, believed that it was smart to give people the razors because they’d keep coming back for the highly profitable blades.  Amazon’s model for the Fire isn’t the same as the iPad’s but does mirror Gillette’s, and the research seems to indicate it’s a smart move:

More consumers who own tablets tend to like to shop, and make more spontaneous purchases than consumers who do not own tablets, the survey finds. Tablet owners also tend to be more intent on making purchases..Tablet owners are more likely to shop for certain products than others. Electronics, at 53% of all respondents, topped the list of most-preferred products to buy using a tablet, followed by books, 41%, toys, 39%, clothing, 27%, and music, 33%.

The last part of that is good chunk of Amazon’s inventory, and the Fire is optimized to integrate the Amazon shopping experience into everything.  Given this evidence, how about eBay releasing a free tablet device?  Since the company now sees itself as an “enabler” for other online retailers, why not provide the gateway device – the razor – that unlocks all that inventory?

There’s a line in Caddyshack where Ty is asked how he measures himself against other golfers if he doesn’t keep score.  “By height,” says the very tall Ty.  In this case, comparing the iPad and the Fire by chip speed or application availability might be missing the point.  Amazon seems to be measuring by something different.


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