The naming of products can be a funny and tricky thing. There is the often repeated and yet false story about how the Chevrolet Nova failed to sell well in Latin America because the name means that the car does not go in Spanish. Even the naming of web sites, thanks to the lack of spaces in the url, can turn an innocuous store like Pen Island into the less than innocuous Penisland. A place to find out Who Represents actors suddenly seems like it could really be about Whore Presents when you don’t parse the name of the site correctly.

When I first found out about the Kindle Fire, I thought it was, pun not intended, a mis-fire. I always thought of the primary purpose of the Amazon Kindle devices as being for reading books, magazines, and newspapers. That being the case, I wondered, why would they name the device after something with the destructive power to ruin all of the things to be consumed by the Kindle reader.

I was therefore surprised when I saw how quickly people were pre-ordering the Fire. Nearly one hundred thousand were pre-ordered on the first day that they were made available and since then tens of thousands of orders have poured in every single day. It occurred to me that perhaps my understanding of the name did not mesh with what others were thinking.

It then dawned on me that there are many more positive ways to view the name of the new Kindle device. One, for example, is to think of the Fire as being a sort of fire that consumes that physical nature of the bulky media — newspapers, magazines, and heavy books — and transforms them into the fundamental part of the media, which are the words and images from it. Not the paper — the words and images.

Moreover, one could think of the Fire as being the one to burn the traditional concept of what a person can do with an e-book reader since they took their Kindle and made it capable of viewing not only videos but browsing the web with the seemingly revolutionary Silk Browser, which speeds up the rate at which web pages are loaded on the Fire by taking advantage of Amazon cloud storage.

I am still far too happy with the Amazon Kindle that I currently have — the first one that Amazon released — to change to another one. It is quite possible that in the future I may switch to a Fire when my iPad 2 will eventually head to the digital recycling center. Until then I can continue to look on with interest as continues to revolutionize the way we read.


  1. I, too, was confused by the Kindle Fire, Gordon. I don’t understand why there’s such a rush to buy it. I don’t think people will like its heavy reliance on the cloud for browsing and multimedia and the “fire” does seem like something out of the ’70’s. I wonder if people are attracted to the low price compared to the iPad?

  2. I don’t think the Fire wil have the same functionality of an iPad, though. People will disappointed. I bought the Steve Jobs book via iBook — now that it syncs across all my devices with iCloud — I used to only buy Kindle books. Sea change!

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