EE204: Business Management for
Electrical Engineers and Computer Scientists

Introduction to EE204 and Introductory Case:
Amazon and the Future of the Kindle 2012


  1. Review EE204 website
  2. Note to the Student: How to Study and Discuss Cases (in HBS course materials)
  3. Price/Features Matrix
  4. Amazon and the Future of the Kindle 2012 (will also be handed out in class)


In our first class we will review the objectives for EE204, the subjects which will be covered, and techniques for each student to optimize their own learning experience in EE204.

In the remaining time, an introductory case (Amazon and the Future of the Kindle 2012) will be handed out in class and discussed in order to illustrate the case method of instruction.

Case Summary

Jeff Bezos peddled hard on the stationary bike he kept in his personal office at Amazon’s Seattle, Washington headquarters. He often used it when working out tough issues facing the company he founded in 1996. Today he was peddling particularly hard, intensely reviewing the myriad issues that surrounded the electronic book market and the great success of Amazon’s Kindle Fire electronic book reader. His particular focus was on the go-forward strategy for the Kindle Fire. Competition was increasing, both from Apple and from tablets designed to run Google’s Android operating system.

Discussion Questions

  1. What business is Amazon in?
  2. Is the strategic view correct that the Kindle Fire is not a money-making device in itself, but instead, a portal into the vast Amazon ecosystem?
  3. Which path will Google choose? Will the company further its competition with Apple or take on Amazon Kindle Fire directly? Can Google simply follow exactly what Amazon has done?
  4. Will Amazon need to compete with smartphones? If so, how?
  5. What other initiatives should Amazon consider? One member of his team is even suggesting the idea that Amazon should sell off or license the Kindle and OS to an OEM.
  6. How should these questions be prioritized?

SCPD Students

Written work should be submitted using SCPD Homework Processing procedures.

All times listed below are PDT (California time).

  1. See the SCPD Resource Page for general information on assignment submission, team building, expectations, and getting help.
  2. See the SCPD Grading Page for evaluation procedures for daily written assignments.
  3. Complete the assigned readings. There is no Writeup 1 for the first day of class.
  4. The videotaped class meeting should be available via SCPD by 2pm, Tuesday 4/3/2012.
  5. Watch the video of the class meeting and meet with your team to discuss.
  6. Submit Writeup 2 (1-2 pages) by 9am Thursday 4/5/2012. This writeup should include the following:
    • A summary of the main points of the class discussion
    • Any points from the discussion that you found particularly enlightening or disagreed with
    • A discussion of your initial responses to the discussion questions, and how they did or did not align with the direction of the class discussion
    • A go-forward strategy for the Amazon Kindle Fire team