There's no doubt the original Kindle, although popular, wasn't all that attractive. It had an angular design with a split keyboard and an odd scroll wheel. And now we know why. According to the NY Times, who spoke with an early Kindle hardware designer, that original version was so ugly because it was modeled after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' BlackBerry smartphone.
Apparently, Bezos encouraged his designers to find inspiration from his then beloved BlackBerry, which must have been a BlackBerry 8700 like the one shown above. There's definitely a resemblance.
“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,” explained the former Amazon designer. “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.”
The design of the Kindle gradually changed over time, becoming increasingly influenced by Apple's aesthetic. The second- and third-generation Kindles took on thinner and more rounded designs akin to Apple's iPod. And now we have the Kindle Fire tablet that is once again based off of a RIM creation, the BlackBerry PlayBook, which was luckily based off of Apple's iPad.