The uptake of eBooks and reading apps has been slow and steady at best in India. Users who have tried it, love the convenience of it and the easy access it brings to large online libraries. But patchy Internet speeds and low phone memories keep getting in the way of ubiquitous adoption. Not anymore. In March this year, Amazon launched Kindle Lite, the lightest reading app for Android users in India. An India-first initiative, Kindle Lite uses less than 2MB of smartphone memory. To put this in perspective, the most popular social media apps claim as much 300-400MB space. That’s not all. Patchy Internet put the spanners in the works when the phone memory didn’t. But Kindle Lite works on 2G and 3G networks as well, so book libraries can easily travel wherever their users need to. Naturally, the response to the app has been overwhelming.

We spoke to Anshul Jain, Senior Product Manager, Kindle Content, who led this initiative and asked him the story behind the Kindle Lite App.

Q: The lightest reading App – just how was this conceptualized for Kindle and what was the discussion that prompted this?

Anshul Jain

“Kindle Lite was conceived with the idea of providing the same best-in class Kindle reading experience to customers on 2G/3G networks and on phones with low memory. ”
Anshul Jain

At Kindle India, it’s always Day One and this philosophy extends into everything we do. Kindle Lite was conceived with the idea of providing the same best-in class Kindle reading experience to customers on 2G/3G networks and on phones with low memory. Users loved the Kindle for Android app but it was taking a lot of space on their smartphones. They had to choose between keeping the Kindle app and photos/videos on their phones. Additionally a lot of our users were still on 2G/3G networks and we wanted to provide the Kindle reading experience without consuming a lot of data and storage. We also ran a survey and found out that users wanted a light app to read eBooks without compromising on features and the Kindle experience. Kindle Lite was born out of this need and we decided to build an app catering to our customer’s needs and staying true to the principle of Customer Obsession.

Q: This App works well on 2G/3G networks – does this also mean that readers from small towns are warming upto to Kindle in a big way? To see that kind of penetration, as leading a team working on such projects how does that make you feel?
India’s mobile revolution is well and truly underway. The Indian consumer is skipping the Desktop and going straight to feature phones and smartphones and using them to read news, watch videos, share social media updates, chat and conduct business as well. This revolution started in big cities but is now being witnessed in smaller cities, towns and rural India as well. Consequently, more and more users from these towns are reading Kindle eBooks on their phones for leisure, academic and work purposes. It’s a great feeling to see your product out in the hands of users. To get feedback from our users, telling us what they like and what they don’t like helps us constantly improve the experience for them. Our users trust us to give them the best reading experience and working towards it makes every day fun and challenging.

“We started with a blank slate and the team wanted to create a new experience for customers through this project. While we had a wealth of customer learnings to lean on, we also wanted to raise the bar and innovate for our customers. ”

Q: What was the most memorable moment during this journey of developing this Kindle Lite App? Any anecdote that you would like to share?
We started with a blank slate and the team wanted to create a new experience for customers through this project. While we had a wealth of customer learnings to lean on, we also wanted to raise the bar and innovate for our customers. The entire journey has been a big learning experience for me. Understanding customer needs, making sure we are fulfilling the right needs and raising the bar all the time were some of the things which struck me through this project. The most memorable moment was when we were just about to launch. I was excited and nervous at the same time and didn’t know what our customer’s feedback would be. After launch we all breathed a sigh of relief, but only for a short while.

Q: Finally, what is it in Amazon that gives you and your team the Day 1 feeling?
It’s our constant obsession with the customer. We never stop thinking about how we can improve the experience for our customers. We are never satisfied with what’s been done before. We are constantly trying to better our work for our customers, we owe it to them