I’ve been reading the reviews about the Kindle Fire as well as watching demo videos among other things and I find it funny that everyone either says it’ll be an iPad killer or not. Why can’t it be neither? Why does every tablet that comes out have to be compared to the iPad? Well, the answer that most people will tell you is that it’s because the iPad is the number one selling tablet. While this is true, does that mean everything else should be compared to it? I don’t think so.
For one, the iPad isn’t all that great—on its own. What this means is that the iPad’s ecosystem is what holds it together. That ecosystem is comprised of iTunes (and everything in it), iPhone, iPod, OSX and iOS. iPad owners generally own the other devices in the Apple sphere and have a significant relationship with iTunes thereby sealing their fate as iPad owners forever. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s important to understand the reason why the iPad is so popular. Apple has done well in ensuring that consumers stick with them.
The same reason why Apple has done so well with the iPad is why other tablet makers have not done well at all. So when the comparison is made that a new device will be an iPad killer, the only thing they’re really talking about is hardware specs. Unfortunately, just like comparing smartphones, you can have the sickest device known to man—twice as fast, 3 times more memory, 20 new and unique features, etc., etc.—and you’ll still have a hard time touching Apple. People like the fact that their Apple device just plugs into iTunes and everything is taken care of. You don’t have to worry about where your music and videos are syncing. You don’t have to worry about buying new content and figuring out where you’re going to put it. It all just works in a nice handy little package.
Enter the Amazon Kindle Fire
The term “iPad killer” is useless to me because I’m aware that the Kindle Fire will not have the same specs and design features of the iPad. In fact, it won’t be comparable to the iPad on any of those levels and it’ll also be smaller! But if the iPad is so much better, why did I sell it 6 months ago and more importantly, why did I place a pre-order for the Kindle Fire on October 3rd?
The answer to both of these questions is this: I found that I had no real use for the iPad. It was a nice little toy that cost way too much money to call a “toy”. I bought it on a whim because I loved my iPhone 4 so much. Last but not least, the Kindle Fire is only $199.
The price is somewhat of a moot point for me because if I was willing to drop $629 for the iPad, I’m sure I’d do it again if I wanted to, but still…to think that I could buy 3 Kindle Fires for that much is depressing! Anyway, what sells it for me are a couple of things:
- 7″ screen – While the 9″ iPad looks amazing, try holding it in one hand for longer than 30 minutes. Or how about carrying it around. For women, this isn’t such a problem because you girls have purses and bags. The Fire makes it very easy to hold in one hand—perfect for lugging around town.
- No 3G – Who would have ever thought that I would say that?! The fact is that I didn’t like the 3G service on my iPad…not because I didn’t use it, but because it cost $20 per month. I would pay for 3G service on my MacBook, but I don’t need it just to sync content on a tablet. I can do that from my computer before I head off somewhere. Although it would be nice to have the Internet connection at times…hmmm.
- Amazon Prime – I’m already a member enjoying free two-day shipping on Amazon products, so I might as well enjoy the free streaming on movies and tv shows. Not even iTunes can beat that! Sure, Apple has rentals and things you can buy, but so does Amazon! In fact, if Amazon Prime keeps growing their collection, they’re sure to beat Netflix.
- It’s a Kindle – For anyone who has ever used a Kindle or just likes reading eBooks, it’s not very easily done on an iPad. Because of its size and weight, it can be difficult to hold with one hand.
- Android Apps – You have full access to every app in the Amazon Android app store!
- Storage Space – Even though the Fire has only 8GB of internal space, the Fire will store all of your Amazon content in the Amazon cloud for free!
There has been a lot of arguing about who’s app store is better and after the dust settles, you would be sure to believe that Apple’s 400,000+ apps is an amazing size compared to only half that for Android. However, are you really comparing how many apps each store has before declaring the winner? Anyone who owns an Apple iOS device and has browsed the app store knows that for every single app in there, there’s anywhere from 3 to 10 clones available. So in reality, there can’t possibly be over 400,000 quality apps.
The point is that the Kindle Fire will have access to many high quality apps already being enjoyed by Android device users. The major difference is that the Kindle is expected not to have the Android App Market, so users will have to get their apps through the Amazon Android App Store. This won’t be a deciding factor for most users and it really only affects those that have a bunch of apps already purchased in the Android App store that can’t readily be transferred over.
However, because of the Fire’s low price and compatibility, developers are bound to take notice and begin creating apps for the Fire at blazing speeds (I just had to!).
My two cents
As usual, time will tell whether the Kindle is a true contender in the tablet market, but considering how Apple has rounded out its offerings through the use of iTunes, iOS and OSX, Amazon is well on its way. By offering a device that connects users to their Amazon Prime account, their Kindle books and magazines, the Amazon Android App store and the Internet, Amazon is starting to show some serious competition to Apple. And because Amazon Prime continues to grow by adding more movies and tv shows available for streaming, they are well on their way to dealing a serious blow to Netflix as well.
Imagine if you could combine streaming movies, music and tv shows with the ability to purchase real products shipped to your door in two days for free, have access to Android apps, use the Internet, store files in the cloud, buy and rent movies, purchase music, listen to music and read eBooks all on a little full-color 7″ device that weighs less than a pound (14.6 oz) and costs $199…what would you do?
Stay tuned on November 16th as I write a full report about the Kindle Fire.