Posted at 04:00 PM ET, 09/28/2011

Amazon Fire may have ‘nailed it,’ but the name is a miss

From intial reports, Amazon may have a hit on its hands with the newly announced Amazon Kindle Fire. The headlines and stories all sound positive notes: “Amazon blazes into computing ” “Playing with Fire” and “Then Man Discovered Kindle Fire.”
The Kindle Fire (Mark Lennihan/AP)

In light of the hoopla made when Apple announced the iPad, evoking a thousand sanitary napkin jokes, it’s surprising how deadening the silence is over the name. Perhaps it’s because people are referring to it as both the Kindle Fire and the Amazon Fire. It’s that second one that I’m stumbling over.

The Amazon Fire does little to encourage me to buy a product. Rather, it makes my mind skip straight into the heart of the Amazon rainforest, where fires are the preferred method of clearing the land for agriculture.

Those fires usually grow from attempts by farmers to clear space to eke out a meager living into infernos that rage across the Amazon basin. In the late ‘90s, El Nino-fueled fires toppled forests and devastated the enviornment. In 2005, fires burned for months, ravaging the land and releasing tons of carbon into the atmosphere.
A fire caused by farmers burns out of control in the Amazon state of Rondonia, Brazil in this October 1998 photo. (Janduari Simoes/AP)

Reinaldo Barb osa of the Amazonia Research Institute said 100 years will be needed to recover the flora lost in the 1998 forest fire that burned out of control in Venezuela. (Marie Hippenmeyer/AFP)

So rather than finding a name that inspires me to read more and often, Amazon has found a name that makes me dwell on environmental damage. It’s a small step to wondering about electronic waste. Not the best tangent for a technology company to send a potential client down — especially if it wants me to toss an old iPad for a new Fire.

What is in a name? Perhaps I’m reading to much into it.

The Fire is a logical next step for a product named Kindle. And the original name had no dire background meaning. The man who came up with the name Kindle, San Francisco designer Michael Cronan, supposedly found inspiration in a Voltaire quote: “The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbours, kindle it at home, communicate it to others and it becomes the property of all.”

All the same, a better name might have been the Amazon Frog. Everyone loves Kermit, right?

By  |  04:00 PM ET, 09/28/2011

Tags:  Technology, Amazon Fire, Kindle

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