The nomenclature issue around Amazon’s launch of the new Kindle Fire 7/Fire/fire raises some very interesting questions about their whole strategy for their new flagship model. The Wikipedia “Kindle Fire” article, for instance, calls it the Fire 7″ – but probably gets that wrong based on a mistaken reading of the Amazon page. And note that the whole new range of tabs are Fires, not Kindle Fires – distinguished only by their size, or absence thereof. Amazon has introduced that snazzy orange display font with a lower-case f to ram home the fact. But even Amazon can’t seem to make up its mind: it calls the Fire Tablets just that, with capitals, in its orange-font banner ads, lower-case fires in the main ad display names, and Fires in its blurbs.
However, Amazon is simply following the same naming policy it introduced with the Fire HD 6 mini-device – which will stay in the market alongside the new Kindle Fire 7. That’s been around for over a year now, which hasn’t stopped users and commentators falling into the vulgar error of calling it a Kindle.
Back in 2014, commentators were already remarking on the fact, pointing out that: “the rebranding highlights the division that Amazon wants to put between its more basic Kindle e-readers and its more advanced Fire tablets. It also further ties the tablet family to Amazon’s Fire line of devices, which now includes the Fire TV and the Fire Phone.” And, as the same article emphasized, this revealed how much Amazon was banking on across-the-board online content and services delivery as the real future growth driver of its digital business, with the Fire brand as the signature tag for the hardware component of the entire content/service offering, whatever the device.
By calling its new device simply the Fire, as opposed to any-other-screen-size-Fire, or TV-or-phone-Fire, and positioning that device as the rock-bottom-pricetag mainstay of the line, Amazon is probably hoping to reinforce its role as the benchmark for the whole platform, and embed it correspondingly deep in public awareness. After all, even a year ago, reporters were speculating that Amazon had hoped to rescue Fire Phone sales by linking its name to some superior tablet tech. The new Kindle Fire is now good enough for that to be a real possibility.
That said, Amazon may have a really strong grasp of consumer behavior, but if its marketing mavens really think that “Fire” (or “fire”) will seep into popular consciousness in the same way that Kindle – or Google – has, then I think they’ve stepped into the Apple reality distortion field by mistake. I mean, think of the potential errors. “Waterstones removes fires from shelves.” “I’ve been Fired.” “Babe, you’re on Fire.” “Fire!”