Amazon, Apple, and Nintendo: Who Came Out Ahead in September?

by Kevin Marshall   September 18, 2012 at 12:00AM  |  Views: 737
Amazon, Apple, and Nintendo: Who Came Out Ahead in September?


September was a big month for tech gadgets, with three major announcements about new hardware within the span of two weeks. Amazon announced its next incarnations of the Kindle Fire, Kindle HD, and Paperwhite. Apple unveiled the fifth incarnation of what has become its signature product, the iPhone 5. Last out of the gate was Nintendo, who announced details of the WiiU and its new service, TVii.

Although the three companies were offering different products – tablets, smartphones, and next-gen gaming consoles respectively – they were in competition for coverage space. Each wanted their product announcement to trump all others and to be the talk of the tech world.

So which one came out the winner? We’ll examine using three different criteria: the lead-up, the announcement, and the aftermath.

THE LEAD-UP

Amazon

The company started with the surprising and ominous announcement that the Kindle Fire was sold out…FOREVER. After days of speculation, they aired an ad during the NFL season opener that showed glimpses of what people speculated could be the Kindle Fire 2.

Verdict: WIN!

Apple

The House that Jobs Built didn’t really have to do all that much here. They have a fiercely loyal fan base that has been salivating over the new phone for months. People came to expect a bit of pomp and circumstance along with some surprise announcements, which they got. Kinda.

Verdict: WIN!

Nintendo

The House That Mario Built wasn’t quite as lucky. They couldn’t afford to rest on their laurels on this one, and yet they did. What really hampered them was that many of the details were already known and made public last Spring, and they didn’t really have anything new to bring to the table other than a release date and a price for the console. Nor did they tease much.

Verdict: Meh.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT

Amazon

People went in expecting first a new Kindle Fire, along with maybe a Kindle Fire HD. What they got instead was a range of products with better than expected specs at ridiculously affordable prices. It all seemed too good to be true, and in a way, it was. But more on that later. In the meantime…

Verdict: WIN!

Apple

Apple hit every note during its presentation. It even had a surprise closing concert from the Foo Fighters. As far as tech companies go, they were still the cool kids. And yet, the announcement was underwhelming. A thinner iPhone 5 is great, but the specs were only a slight upgrade from the iPhone 4s. The larger screen was the most heavily touted new feature. This in itself was a problem, because even casual observers noted that they were simply matching the screens of their competitors’ offerings. That’s somewhat troubling for a company that has always seemed so far ahead of the curve. All other announcements were either expected to underwhelming, from the free iPhone 4 to changes to the iPod Touch, which…wait, people still buy those? On purpose?

Verdict: Meh.

Nintendo

The announcement of the next-gen WiiU system wasn’t just a regurgitation of what came out of Tokyo last Spring. They also unveiled the TVii service, and showed more of what the WiiU controller can do. Nintendo has a head start on other next-gen consoles, but still needed something to differentiate themselves from the pack. I think with the scope of the TVii service, which Nintendo seems serious about pushing, they might have accomplished that.

Verdict: (slight) WIN!

THE AFTERMATH

Amazon

Amazon went from darlings to demonized overnight when news broke that “special offer” ads would be on all models of the new Kindle Fire and you wouldn’t be able to opt out of them. Suddenly, the lower prices made more sense, and Amazon’s omission in their presentation was seen as duplicitous given everything they had promised. The controversy died down a bit once Amazon explained that you could opt out for an extra $30, but some damage had already been done. Yet, when all is said and done, those ads aren’t very intrusive and it might be worth it given the price.

Verdict: Meh.

Apple

There were a lot of questions as to how Apple would go forward without Steve Jobs, and the underwhelming iPhone 5 had some people speculating that they’re already missing their founder and head cheerleader. That’s not entirely fair, though, since this phone’s been in development for some time. They’re also five models in. Short of a new product entirely, it’s unfair to expect them to reinvent the wheel every time out. The real boon here for Apple is that they’re now offering the iPhone 4 for free with new carrier contracts. That’s pretty much going to lock down the smartphone market, which they’ve already been dominating.

Verdict: WIN! (but not for the reasons you’d expect)

Nintendo

There wasn't a lot of buzz behind the WiiU, even the day of the announcement. They sort of got lost in the shuffle as a result of coming out with the release date and price the day after the iPhone 5. I think with time, though, people will become more interested and intrigued by the offerings. They also have the advantage of being the most likely to see a bump from Christmas sales, so expect a lot more buzz come November or December.

Verdict: WIN!

THE WINNER:



Amazon's Kindle Is On Fire


Amazon

Look, I’m as surprised as you are. They’re not who I would have told you two weeks ago would come out ahead in all this. Their new tablets won’t match the iPad’s specs, but they’re going to be much more affordable. And if I’m going to shell out a few hundred on anything discussed in this article, it’s likely to be a Kindle Fire HD or a Paperwhite.

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