Amazon.com Inc. is rolling up its sleeves in its fight to convince consumers that its Kindle electronic reader is better than competing devices such as Apple’s iPad, unveiling more aggressive advertising that is accentuating a growing rivalry.
In a Kindle commercial aired on TV and uploaded Monday to Amazon’s Kindle channel on YouTube, the online retailer shows a man and a woman lounging beside a pool in the sun. The man, dressed in a white T-shirt and gray shorts, looks vexedly at a thin, dark, unlabeled tablet device — presumably an iPad — while trying to shield its shiny screen from the sun.
The man asks the woman, who is clad in a black bikini and sunglasses and reading on a Kindle, how she’s able to read in such bright sunlight. Presumably his tablet has an LCD screen, which is tougher to read in the sun than an e-ink screen like that on Amazon’s e-reader.
Smiling, the woman answers, “It’s a Kindle — $139. I actually paid more for these sunglasses.”
Amazon sells a $139 a version of the device that can wirelessly download books over Wi-Fi; a version with 3G and Wi-Fi costs $189.
Still smiling, she returns to her reading, while the man looks somewhat dejectedly at his tablet device.
The commercial marks a tactical change for Amazon, whose earlier Kindle commercials often featured cheerful indie tunes and stop-motion camera work, with no references to competing products such as tablet computers or other e-readers.
While the Kindle is meant mainly for reading, Apple Inc.’s popular iPad, which starts at $499, is a touch-screen-enabled multimedia device that can be used to read e-books (such as those purchased from Apple’s iBookstore), surf the web and more. Though more expensive than the Kindle, the iPad’s versatility has drawn in many consumers.
But the iPad’s success can also be good for Amazon, too, since Amazon offers free Kindle applications for numerous devices, including the iPad, that can be used to read Kindle e-books.
Apple spokesman Steve Dowling and Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener declined to comment on the new ad.
E-reading is just one of several markets in which Seattle-based Amazon and Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple compete.
They also come up against each other in video and music downloads. Earlier this month, Apple announced a new $99 version of its Apple TV television set-top box that lets people rent TV shows from a number of major networks for 99 cents. The same day, Amazon started selling shows from several of the same networks for 99 cents each to own, not just rent.