How the Kindle moved from clunky BlackBerry-esque to mimicking Apple’s iPad

“A hardware designer who worked on the first generation Kindle recently told me that the inspiration for the design came from early BlackBerry smartphones,” Nick Bilton reports for The New York Times. “‘Jeff Bezos would come into our design meetings and say he loved his BlackBerry and the ease with which he could find e-mails and respond to people,’ the former Amazon designer explained. ‘That’s why the first Kindle was so boxy, had the funky square keyboard and that strange scroll wheel on the side; it was all inspired by Jeff’s BlackBerry.'”

“Since then however, the Kindle has come a long way,” Bilton reports. “The latest versions of the Kindles that were announced this week all come without those bulky scroll wheels and the dozens of cluttered buttons. Now though, in many respects, they are starting to look more like iKindles, imitating the design of the Apple iPad. ‘The design of the Kindle — and other tablets — are all marching to the beat of Apple’s drum; you can’t get much more minimal than a black rectangle,’ said Justin Ouellette, a user interface designer at Tumblr. ‘I think it’s very telling that the latest Kindle uses the exact same Gorilla Glass as the iPad.'”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Since84” for the heads up.]

19 Comments

    1. yes, but Amazon completely simplified the interface and hardware and kept the product very, very focused. At $200, it will be very successful and beat the crap out of everything but the iPad. This device poses a serious challenge to the Google ecosystem. It co-ops the ecosystem instead of expanding it, and it does so by using a very limited version of Android, so instead of pushing the platform forward, it is pushing it backwards, while making life very difficult for the Android OEMs.

  1. I just hope all these copy iPads don’t copy the copy function of iOS, because it sucks so bad the every time I want select some text on a web page, I want throw the damn thing out the window.

    I mean HELLO…….! Who invented copy paste?

    Why is my iPad telling me what I want to select, instead of me telling my iPad?

      1. NO, that interface drives me crazy too. It’s one reason (ATT being the other) that I don’t have an iPhone anymore. On both the iPod and iPad the stupid device clicks links when I want to scroll and scrolls (well drops the link) when I want to click. The latest Safari is so lame I wish I could put FF or Chrome on the iPOS. And I’m an Apple fanboi.

    1. All the people who complained bitterly about the lack of c’n’p in the earlier iterations of iOS. People like me, in fact, who are only too glad to have the function on a day-to-day basis. Sure, there are occasions when it picks up an incorrect selection, but a finger isn’t a very fine tipped pointer, and I’ve had plenty of issues with selecting text over the years using a rodent. Frankly I fail to see how anyone can manage without it.

  2. “inspiration for the design came from early BlackBerry”

    “That’s why the first Kindle was so boxy, had the funky square keyboard and that strange scroll wheel on the side; it was all inspired by Jeff’s BlackBerry.’”

    And then CEO Jeff says they make innovative products??

    1. I’m no Amazon apologist, but isn’t taking something that exists and combining it with new ideas and coming up with something different or better (than what was) the very definition of innovation? Perhaps not innovative to the degree Apple is, but innovative none the less. This is much different than the blatant copying with no iterative progress that Samsung is doing.

      1. Yes, that’s what I thought when writting my post, and very good examples of that is what Steve Jobs did with the iPhone, and the iPad.

        However, how different or better is the keyboard in the kindle to the blackberry? And how different or better is the form factor of the kindle to the blackberry?? It is obvious they had to change the form factor for an e-reader. What’s innovative on these two elements?

        If anything, I think only what they called e-ink display of the reader would be the innovative element. Other than that?

  3. Uh, I don’t think you quite nailed it: the reason the new kindle stuff looks like an iPad is because Amazon has been ‘interviewing’ Apple employees for quite some time now (poaching?). They don’t just want the Apple aesthetic, they want Apple employees.

  4. I played with the last kindle and I would not touch it If I was a reader , but I will have to look at this one it my have a use. Like almux said it’s for a different user,
    iPads are for the person who wants it all kindle is a reader. ( so far looks good)

  5. I still use my Kindle 1 almost daily, and I’m pleasantly surprised by how much they got right the first time. It’s got a user-replaceable battery and expandable storage via SD card, features that have been missing on the Kindle ever since. Sure, the later versions of the Kindle are thinner & lighter, with better screen contrast and faster page-turning, but after almost three years, I still haven’t felt a compelling need to replace the original (which is unusual for me.)

  6. I am (almost) embarrassed for Amazon.

    First, they not only copied (stole) the functional layout of the Blackberry, but even the unimportant angles on the bottom edge of the case.
    The planes in general, and even the angled keys are all generally mimicking the Blackberry.

    And then Amazon just takes a photocopy of the iPad, and presents that as Amazon’s innovation.

    Amazon of Yesterday – “Hey, lot’s of people buy Blackberrys – Let’s make a copy and sell it too!”

    Amazon of Today “Hey, lots of people buy iPads – Let’s make a copy and sell it too!”

    Pathetic.

  7. It continues:
    WHERE are the real competitors with Apple?
    Imitation is flattery, but enough with the deluge of flattery already! Someone please use your imagination instead!!! 😕

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