Inspiration or Plagiarism?

Earlier this week Amazon announced their new Kindle Fire, a media-consumption oriented tablet that looks basically identical to a BlackBerry PlayBook. I think a lot of us BlackBerry PlayBook owners and BlackBerry fans we're a little surprised to see just how blatantly Amazon ripped off the PlayBook's hardware design. Turns out we shouldn't be **that** surprised, as it seems Amazon has a history of taking inspiration from Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices. Yesterday the WSJ posted a story on Amazon's kindle history, which had a quote from a hardware designer who worked on the first generation Amazon Kindle who told WSJ:

"Jeff Bezos would come into our design meetings and say he loved his BlackBerry and the ease with which he could find e-mails and respond to people," the former Amazon designer explained. "That's why the first Kindle was so boxy, had the funky square keyboard and that strange scroll wheel on the side; it was all inspired by Jeff's BlackBerry."

Pretty interesting, and it definitely explains the look and design of those old Kindles, which we're sort of like an old BlackBerry flattened out like a pancake. The WSJ took the stance that the new Kindle Fire takes after the iPad in design, but I think the author of that story never saw a BlackBerry PlayBook before, as the Kindle Fire's hardware is basically a carbon copy of the PlayBook. Heck, with the Kindle Fire reportedly being made by the same company who makes the PlayBook for RIM, it's more like the same device than a copy even.

So is it inspiration? Or plagiarism? Check out the images above and you be the judge. You have a BlackBerry 8700 on the far left, next to the original Kindle. Then you have a BlackBerry PlayBook and Kindle Fire on the far right. Whether inspiration or plagiarism, it's kind of funny though. Don't they say that imitation is the highest form of flattery?