The Kindle Oasis: Amazon’s breakthough in snark generation

The Kindle Oasis: Amazon’s breakthough in snark generation

Amazon’s Kindle Oasis is strikingly different from previous models…and not just in its shape, but in the online reaction to it.

Oh, I’m sure there’s no surprise that there is some pushback on it…there has probably been some pushback on every model.

As soon as this is officially released on April 27, there will undoubtedly be a number of 1-star reviews, just based on the price (which is considerably higher than recent models, although not as high as the introductory price of the first model in 2007). Others will mention the lack of certain features people had speculated might be included: a return to text-to-speech and other audio capabilities; a color screen; the inability to buy it without an animal-leather cover; and so on.

I will say that this Kindle seems to me to be representative of “engineer’s dream syndrome”. I just made that up 🙂 but what I mean is this: I doubt that Amazon was getting many complaints about the thickness of the Voyage or the battery charge life. The same is true of the Paperwhite.

Engineers have a dream of making things thinner and making the battery last long enough for a trip to the moon. It’s a great dream: it’s engineering for its own sake, and it could certainly open up possibilities currently undreamt. However, I really don’t think it’s what the reading public wanted.

In Jeff Bezos’ letter to stockholders this year, the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) said

I believe we are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!), and failure and invention are inseparable twins.”

We wouldn’t have the original Kindle without that willingness. We wouldn’t have the

Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which I think is a game changing smart appliance.

I don’t think this is a Fire Phone level error (I bought the Fire Phone when it was first released for about $200), but I don’t think it’s going to be their bestselling Kindle model.

I’d seen some thoughts about that, but then I found something interesting.

On the official Amazon product page, there are no reviews yet, of course. People, though, have found a way to game the system.

You see, customers can ask questions about products, and other customers can answer them.

It makes sense that Q&As can happen before the release of the product. There may be questions prior to purchase.

Just like funny reviews, which Amazon has embraced and promoted (see, for example, the reviews on the Three Wolf Moon t-shirt (at AmazonSmile*)), people are using the Q&As for the Oasis to write some really funny and creative material.

Funny, creative…but also critical of the product.

I don’t have permission to reproduce them, but check them out.

Let me describe the first one (sorted by “most helpful”) a bit.

The question is deliberately written in a way to criticize the high price.

The first response at time of writing has a very high 559 votes at time of writing…and there are 868 answers.

The second most “helpful” question may be a serious one about text-to-speech…with a very snarky answer at the top.

The third question listed appears to be a genuine one objecting to the animal-leather requirement…I’m honestly surprised one is that high, although it’s the reason I won’t buy one myself. There are 862 answers to that question at time of writing…I looked at the first several, and they also would have preferred some other option.

The fourth question was about the adaptive lighting on the Voyage…and the first answer is that it isn’t available on the Oasis.

I think it’s great that Amazon offers this Q&A, but I don’t think they anticipated this.

I’ll be very interested to see both the reviews and the sales ranking after release…

I’ve read through the owner’s guide now: the interface seemed very much like the current 7th gen models. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to hear them.

What do you think? Is this snarksplosion indicative of the general reaction the Oasis will get, or is it just a place for people to have fun? Will the Oasis be a hit? It may do well in holiday sales, so let’s put it this way…a year after it is released, how will its sales rank compare to the Voyage, Paperwhite, and current entry level Kindle? Will Amazon discontinue any of the other models before the holidays? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


12 Responses to “The Kindle Oasis: Amazon’s breakthough in snark generation”

  1. booksfan Says:

    My feeling is that it will not be a hit. I base this on the fact that this is the first new Kindle model that I have NOT pre-ordered since receiving my first Kindle as a birthday gift so many years ago. (I practice trickle-down Kindle-nomics and pass older models to family members and very close friends.) However, the Oasis doesn’t offer enough, at its super high price point (I get the 3G models because of travel) to make it feasible.
    I DID get the Voyage, and the lighter weight was noticeable and welcome (I have wrist and hand problems that give me difficulty holding larger books). I think the even lighter weight of the Oasis would be nice. I am an avid reader and think the extended battery life is a plus in my particular case. Had it been waterproof, since I read in the pool, that would have made it worth the price. But not as it is. Maybe next time.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, booksfan!

      I like the “trickle-down” line. 🙂

      Certainly, some people are affected more by the weight than others, and that’s a good point. I had a relative who had to have someone tear a hardback Harry Potter into pieces to be able to handle it, due to a physical issue.

      I’ll be surprised if the Oasis is the number one Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader) in April of 2017.

  2. jjhitt Says:

    I can’t fault Amazon for wanting a luxury model, but I’m not sure what the Oasis brings to the table besides better battery life. Same display, same storage, same services. It’s not even truly ambidextrous (photos don’t show the wedge bump on the back going the full length of the device, making it asymmetrical).

    I tend to agree with the idea this is a giveaway to the engineers and developers: “We’ll do a limited run item and you have a free hand. See what you can do.”

  3. Lady Galaxy Says:

    This is one I’d like to have the opportunity to actually handle before making a purchase. If it really is better balanced and more ergonomic than the Voyage, that might make it worth the extra price. Without the easel style cover I bought for it, the Voyage doesn’t balance well and causes hand cramps. I mentioned before that I hold it in my left hand. With the easel cover folded back, I put my pointing finger between the two parts of the cover and use my remaining fingers and the palm of my hand to hold onto it leaving my thumb free to page forward. I have to use my right hand for the page back buttons. Without the cover, I have to use my right hand to page forward and back along with a lot of thumb pressure to hold onto it with my left hand eventually causing my hand to cramp and go into spasms. If Oasis really did balance comfortably in my hand, that would be really nice, but only if I was at the point where I needed a new Kindle.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Yes, I think it’s important to separate wanting to upgrade when you are having a satisfactory experience on the current device with getting a new one when you need it.

  4. Marianne Says:

    My response to the Oasis was to buy a Voyage. My PW is not holding a charge well, so I went for it. Love it but can’t get the grid view off the home screen. I’ve been reading Kindles since 2010 and cannot stand the book covers on the EBR. Fine for the Fires but too cumbersome for my beloved E-Books. I bought WiFi
    Only with special offers. Ideas?

    As far as the Oasis goes, YIKES! The price, cover mandates and no TTS or waterproof capabilities. This should a hoot to watch. 😀

  5. Edward Boyhan Says:

    The tech and mainstream press have largely reported positively about the new Oasis features; and with perplexity about the price, and why do we need this?

    Three articles attempted to provide some opinions on what Amazon is thinking. Two of them posit a move into the space mostly occupied by Apple: high quality, top of the line, high-priced goods. With the Kindle, Amazon can do this because (in the US at least) they are the near monopoly EBR player.

    One article thinks that the Oasis is targeted at those readers (C-level execs, lawyers, and other professionals) who have no time for long form reading during most of their active day. These will do most of their long form reading at home, at night, and in the dark. The Oasis is an admirable EBR for reading in bed (as are the PaperWhite and Voyage). This crowd, however, is not that price sensitive, and might want the “best of the best” — price no object.

    My own thoughts are that the Oasis is not going to be winning any unit sales contests, nor is Amazon likely to lose anything on each Oasis sold, nor is it going to be contributing much to Amazon’s bottom line.

    I think this is more about burnishing the Kindle brand — giving it a bit of luxury cachet. Over on the soft lines side of Amazon’s retail business, they are starting to make moves into the high fashion arena. The oasis might fit nicely as a luxury accessory for the fashionistas Amazon is targeting.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      My guess is that it is ergonomically better…I’ve been impressed with Len Edgerly’s (The Kindle Chronicles) response to it. The “leather only” rules it out for me now. The price and lack of certain features means a lot of people won’t want it.

      I think it may have been a mistake not releasing a lower-priced model with it. People are always worried that Amazon is taking EBRs in a new direction, and abandoning something they like. After all, Amazon has done that before: no keyboard, no sound. They may be going after a certain market, but they need to be very careful that it doesn’t look like they are rejecting a larger one.

  6. Edward Boyhan Says:

    So, I’ve seriously been thinking about buying one of these — so I went to Amazon & configured one with the Merlot cover & w/o special offers (total price: $309.99).

    Then came the kicker: in stock Sept 3, 2016! Not only is it priced high, but it’s not available? Could it be that it’s more popular than we thought? Probably not: expecting it to be a niche product, and not really knowing the demand, they decided to not build up a large inventory that they’d then have to write down a la Fire phone.

    I think I’ll wait & see if inventory eventually clears ;-(

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I don’t think Amazon artificially creates scarcity for scarcity’s sake (I’ve seen many people suggesting that over the years). I think you are right that they may be more risk adverse after the Fire Phone, and not unreasonably.

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