Amazon (AMZN)'s new ad for the Kindle appears to pick up where it left off from the Kindle Poolside Girl -- whose smug sunglasses purchase divided a nation last fall -- in that there is something indefinably annoying about the commercial, which includes another dig at Apple (AAPL)'s iPad.
The new spot features a bunch of 20-something hipsters running, jumping, laughing and loving, all while sharing their Kindles in a way that is both irritating and implausible:
This, of course, is not the way people behave when they use any kind of mobile device. The main social result of the Kindle -- like the iPad or any smartphone -- is to instantly isolate the user inside their own digital world, no matter how crowded the environment around them is. The first half of the spot shows people quietly reading their e-books. Fair enough. But then the Kindle gets involved in a three-way with two different young couples, a woman runs through the countryside joyfully carrying her Kindle, and then finally the Kindle cracks up the entire gang in a Friends-style moment of coffee-shop hilarity.
Commenters on YouTube have been unkind:
joseteblanco: Groups ofï»¿ friends having fun with a book........ yeah! very credible Amazon!!!
albalily: I usually read on my kindle sitting down,ï»¿ now it turns out I have run with it!
lammel: OK, I love my Kindle too, but this commercial is ridiculous. WHO would run and jump with friends holdind aï»¿ Kindle in hands.
dandevoy2002: Jeff Bezosï»¿ apparently :DIt's one thing to suggest that your product might make people happier. But Amazon seems to be saying that the Kindle will widen your circle of friends and make you more lovable, in a running-through-the-autumn-leaves-hand-in-hand kind of way, which is what makes this ad so weird.
The ad also continues Kindle's ill-advised war with the iPad. One woman in the coffee-shop briefly struggles to shield her iPad from the sunlight -- she's apparently unable to tip it slightly to the right to place its screen in the shade -- and she is rescued by her Kindle-carrying companion. No doubt she won't miss any of the apps or laptop functionality of the iPad as she makes her way through Moby Dick.
Amazon seems to sincerely believe that the sunlight issue could kill the iPad if only people knew about it -- it devoted an entire previous commercial to the issue last summer. Having spent an afternoon on a remote Caribbean beach last year with an Apple fan who seemed to find her iPhone a lot more interesting than the pelicans, cliffs, palm trees, waves and the local rum shack, I can assure Amazon that sunshine is a non-issue for Apple device users.
Apple's iPad ads illustrate what Apple "gets" and Amazon does not: They all show the endless different functions of the device. Humans barely appear in any of them. The Kindle by contrast does one thing: It displays books and other text-based documents. No wonder the humans in Amazon's commercials are working so hard to distract us.