September 30, 2011

Under the headlines generated by Amazon’s launch of the Kindle Fire, a $199 color touch-screen tablet, is a marketing question: “who’s your market.” Many tech folks say the new Fire is similar in design to the PlayBook by Research in Motions (RIM), which has failed to make even a minor dent into iPad sales. So, what has been holding back PlayBook sales?

According to an article in the Wall St. Journal (WSJ), RIM executives haven’t been able to agree on their message. Should the PlayBook be promoted as an extension of the BlackBerry to RIM’s corporate and business customer base? Or should it be aimed at general consumers? As reported by WSJ, “There’s an internal war going on around the marketing message. Even the guys at the top don’t agree,” one executive close to RIM has stated. 

This marketing muddle reveals a marketing challenge facing every company:  Everyone must agreed on a marketing message, and when should you change it to move away from your core market and create new markets?  A good point of discussion for your next staff meeting.

Unfortunately, in my mind, RIM has already lost this battle. Now, we will see if Amazon can take the same product and make it a winner. I predict that the Kindle Fire will be a big hit. HP’s TouchPad, when discounted to $199, proved that this was a great price point even for products perceived as inferior to the iPad . But the Kindle Fire’s tempting price also comes with Amazon’s huge customer base and extensive digital content.

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