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Amazon Kindle Fire: $199. RIM Playbook: $299 after 40% Discount.

There are several reasons why Amazon's new Kindle Fire - and the larger Kindle line - is disruptive (my take here). For non-Apple tablets, the Kindle Fire is much more than disruptive: it's killer.

Proof is right here. Below is Best Buy's huge discount on the RIM Playbook ($299 sale, normally $499). Despite that 40% discount, the Playbook is *still* 50% more expensive than the Kindle Fire. And that's before you begin comparing the two devices... I would pay a premium for the Fire vs. the Playbook.

Product is clearly important. But for mass consumption, price wins. And Amazon has won the non-iPad market by radically undercutting it.

Sprint's Meet the Palm Pre Launch Campaign is Terrific

11 days and 7 hours remain until the much-anticipated Palm Pre launch... at least that's what Sprint's ad campaign has drilled in my head (again and again). The ads are running on sponsorships across major blogs, through Google AdSense, on Facebook & social media sites and now on TV. And hats off to Sprint - who I have criticized before for poor marketing and being out of touch with consumers.

Meet the Palm Pre campaign:

- the campaign is savvy and dynamic (including countdown timers, Twitter searches, media mentions, etc)

- the ad layouts (see give the appearance of desktop / mobile widgets... which is what makes the Palm Pre so appealing to consumers

- terrific utilization of social media - from YouTube, to Twitter to popular blogs (like Engadget and CNET)

- sharp, integrated ad units that connect with one another and the efforts

- the larger "This is Now" campaign, under which the Palm Pre campaign is nested, does a better job than RIM's efforts of conveying the aliveness of the network - and the handset's ability to play a role in managing your activities (from critical events like email and calendaring to social events like video and Twitter)

- Sprint Palm Pre This is Now Network

Sprint Palm Pre Ads

Of course, it is also great that Sprint has an integrated widget campaign... although: - they do not use Widgetbox (!) and their homemade widget installer is clunky and unintuitive - before grabbing the widget, a user needs to agree to terms & conditions... bizarre and clearly not good for virality - users cannot grab the widget "in the wild" - they must visit Sprint, agree to terms and then take the embed code

See More Now

Blackberry App World Launch - Three Big Question Marks

blackberry_logo__black Three interesting notes from the Blackberry App World FAQ / developer announcement that was released.

Minimum Price of $2.99?

The iPhone has proven that there are pricepoints for three types of apps: 1. Free (ad-supported) 2. $0.99 (consumers consider it the price of an iTunes song or a McDonald's hamburger) 3. $9.99 (high quality games by brands like EA)

Blackberry is instituting a minimum price of $2.99 for paid apps. Fascinating. My guess is that this has something to do with the fact that: 1. Apple has perfected micro-payments (thanks to iTunes); Blackberry hasn't and the margins on a single $0.99 purchase are far worse than on a $2.99 2. Blackberry wants to focus on more corporate applications and avoid the consumer-friendly inventory that runs $0.99 on Apple (I believe this is a bad move)

As I said, fascinating. And, if the $2.99 price point limits distribution (and it will), it could sway developers to offer free apps.... which would have an unintended consequence for Blackberry: those free apps will be ad-supported and Blackberry will not get a cut of that revenue.

How can I price my application? BlackBerry App World will allow you to select a suggested retail price in US dollars for your application that is associated with a pricing tier. The pricing tier chart below shows the application price for the 4 currencies available: USD, CDN, GBP, and Euros. Pricing Tiers Tiers USD CDN GBP EUR 1 Free Free Free Free 2 $2.99 $3.69 £2.59 €2.75 3 $3.99 $4.89 £3.45 €3.65 4 $4.99 $6.15 £4.29 €4.55 5 $5.99 $7.35 £5.15 €5.49 6 $6.99 $8.59 £5.99 €6.39 7 $7.99 $9.79 £6.85 €7.29 8 $8.99 $11.05 £7.69 €8.19 9 $9.99 $12.25 £8.55 €9.09 Tiers increment by $1 from $2.99 to $19.99 Tiers increment by $10 tiers from $19.99 to $99.99 Tiers increment by $50 tiers from $99.99 to $599.99 Tiers increment by $100 tiers from $599.99 to $999.99

Please note that pricing tiers are subject to change.

2. $200 Application Fee; 10 App Limit

Right off the bat, Blackberry is being far more aggressive than Apple ($200 vs. $99). Perhaps because they believe that Blackberry will attract fewer individual developers and draw a more corporate following. Perhaps because they believe that, in hindsight, Apple could have charged more and gotten away with it.

Furthermore, Blackberry limits the number of apps that fee covers to ten.

I think that Blackberry should do whatever they can to chase inventory... after all, Apple has an enormous lead in this space and playing catch up is already difficult (just ask Android). Charging more than Apple and limiting applications per account does just that: limit available applications. Not wise.

What is the application submission fee used for?

There is a $200 USD administration fee to complete registration and submit applications. In the event your account is not approved, this $200 USD administration fee will be refunded.

This initial fee will allow for 10 application submissions:

Multiple versions of the same application will not count as separate submissions (Example: an application might have a version for the BlackBerry Storm smartphone and the BlackBerry Bold smartphone)

An update to your application, resulting in a submission of new cod files, will be counted against your 10 application submissions Resubmission of a rejected application will be counted against your 10 application submissions

Removal of an application will not affect your remaining balance of application submissions

If you have used all 10 application submissions, an additional $200 USD administration fee will be applied on your next submission, adding another 10 application submissions to your account

3. Themes Cannot Be Sold

I find it strange that there is a specific note to prohibit the selling of themes because: 1. Themes already have a marketplace on Blackberries and, while note applications, would be in high demand 2. The specific call-out suggests that Blackberry intends to open a tangential marketplace of themes

Can I distribute Themes? Themes cannot be distributed in the first release of BlackBerry App World.

Blackberry 9000 Video - First Look is Impressive

If you haven't yet switched over to an iPhone (like me), you are probably excited for the new Blackberry 9000. The first videos look great... although the presenter makes a terrific point: this is not a revolutionary phone. Rather, it's evolutionary.

The interface, OS and form are all revamped - but are essentially improvements. I am excited about a couple things:

- a faster OS (huge need) - the screen (looks amazingly crisp) - video capture (the camera improvements look great)

Not excited about the size. I much prefer the Curve to the 8800. It doesn't look much different, but the 8800 is far bulkier. I also want to know more about the internet browser (desperately needs the ability to run multiple browsers) and what native apps the 9000 comes with.

Blackberry KickStart (Flip Phone) Pics Arrive... On Heels of Blackberry 9000

I am definitely more excited about the forthcoming Blackberry 9000, but BoyGenius has confirmed pictures of a new Blackberry flip phone called the KickStart. It's due out by the end of 2008. I can't imagine going back to a clamshell - but I like that Blackberry is offering different styles and formats in an effort to capture the non-corporate user. The Pearl has been a big success.

Of course if the iPhone 3G for under $200 rumor is true... I might become a convert...?!

Xobni - Improves MS Outlooks, but Better Watch Out for RIM, Blackberry

MS Outlook has so many shortcomings (ie search!) - but for those of us who live on it for work, the biggest struggle is its inability to easily navigate through contacts, conversations and trends. Xobni tries to tackle those issues as a data-driven plugin for Outlook.

Xobni has been well received by the blogs and among everyone I've interacted with (although not a single person has pronounced their name, inbox spelled backwards, the same... which spells branding trouble). And while Xobni is off to a good start, there are still a few shortcomings that I hope that team is working on:

* Customization: I want to change the look, the amount of content displayed and the default content buckets. Currently, nothing is customizable... a bad sign for any supposedly-viral, consumer based-company

* Move beyond Outlook: Like most people I know, I have multiple email accounts -corporate, personal, personal businesses, etc.... and they all live in different destinations (outlook, gmail). I want a service that will operate between my email accounts and providers. I'd pay big for that too...

And the best solution for that killer app lives on my blackberry. Think about it - it houses every email I send / receive, all of contacts, all of my phone calls and sms'es... My blackberry has the data necessary to create my own social network using my communication behaviors across numerous accounts and mediums.