While many are arguing that the Kindle Fire is or isn’t an iPad “Killer,” I think that whole line of thought is way off. The idea of an iPad “Killer” is a device that can do everything the iPad can, but better and maybe cheaper. But it doesn’t just matter if the Kindle Fire is a true iPad Killer, it’s in the same category of devices and will take a large number of consumers away from the iPad. In the current market, consumers are very uninformed about what a tablet device is capable of or why they need one, they just know they want one. And because of that, the Kindle Fire, at around 40 percent the cost of the iPad, is a strong competitor for consumer purchases this holiday season.
Today, Amazon released their much talked about Android based tablet, the Kindle Fire. The reviews came out last night and they aren’t all together that great. While most say it’s a pretty good limited use device, Wired sums it up as little more than a “‘shopping portal.” David Pogue at the NY Times notes that you will “feel that $200 price tag with every swipe of your finger.”
There are a few fundamental things wrong with the Kindle Fire. For one, it was developed outside what Google calls the Open Handset Alliance. Those are the companies that pay into the Android ecosystem to help in the growth of the platform. These are the only companies that get access to the full set of Google Apps like GMail, Maps, and most importantly, the Android Market. This means that the Kindle Fire will only be able to access apps from the still rather small Amazon App Store. In addition, the Fire is based on a version of the Android OS that was never intended for tablet use. It’s just not designed or architected in a way that works really well on tablets.
On the flip side, there are quite a few things that the Amazon Kindle Fire does right: one-click access to the huge catalog of books, magazines, newspapers, music, and video that Amazon offers, for instance. Remember how everyone considered the iPad “simply” a media consumption device? Amazon gives Kindle Fire users plenty to consume, having also launched their own App Store earlier this year. However, by far the number one plus for the Kindle Fire is the price. $199 for an 8GB seven inch tablet is an amazing price point.
And that’s my key point: the price of this media-centric device is just $199. That makes it much more accessible to a broader audience than the $499 iPad 2. Even a number of consumers set on the purchase of an iPad 2 may be put off by the cost of the device when knowing they can get a Kindle Fire much cheaper.
So while the Kindle Fire is around 40 percent the cost of a base level iPad, it’s capabilities are even less. It just so happens that those capabilities match up well with what a typical consumer uses a tablet device for. Because of that, the Kindle Fire will be a strong competitive device to the iPad. When it comes down to it, it’s the cost that matters to a very large portion of the buying public, not the capabilities.
Posted in: Blog, Opinion