The Kindle Fire – Not an iPad Competitor

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I was planning on writing something about the Kindle Fire around the time that the units were received (by the press at least), and the reviews started rolling in. You know, reviews like this and this, with staggering praise like:

“perfectly useable”

from Engadget, and:

“If you’re thinking about getting the Fire, you have to decide not just whether you want a tablet, but what kind of tablet you want. This isn’t an iPad-killer.”

from the excellent review on The Verge (speaking of, I highly recommend watching the video review).

My original point was going to be based around the fact that, while I believe the Kindle Fire will sell a very decent amount, at least partially due to the ‘Kindle’ name, I doubt that large quantities of people are going to consider or want the iPad, but then purchase the Fire. As has been said multiple times, in multiple places, there is no ‘tablet’ market, there is an iPad market, and people trying to ride on the coattails of it’s success. I would be loath to advise anyone to buy the Fire. If you want an e-reader, buy a Kindle, they are great. But, if you want a tablet, and can’t (for example) afford an iPad, my advice would be to save up for an iPad, rather than spend £200 on a worse device. It’s the same reason that I wouldn’t have recommended buying a TouchPad for £99. Put that £99 towards an iPad purchase if a tablet is really what you want, rather than investing in what looks to be dead technology.

However, I waited too long to formulate my thoughts, and by the time I had, the Fire release was effectively ‘old news’. That was until I read this article at Macrumors, regarding analyst’s belief that the Fire will instead cannabalise Android tablet sales, and may even boost iPad sales. Now, I know… It’s analysts. No. Wait. Come back. Trust me, I hate them as much as you do. But this time, it got me thinking.

As I said above, there is no tablet market, there is an iPad market. Tablets have been attempted before, but never succeded. This is because they never answered the question “Why do I need / want this?” The iPad answered that question; but there are still a number of people who, for whom, the tablet solves a problem or need, that they did not know they had. iPad sales numbers are huge, but they are hardly ubiqutious in the world. As Tim Cook stated at the ‘Let’s talk iPhone’ event, while the sales numbers are massive, and impressive, most of the market is still waiting to be convinced. I think the Kindle Fire will make a number of people realise that they want the best tablet, and therefore, purchase the iPad. Just as Reading List now shows people that saving pages to read offline is something they should always have been doing, allowing people to realise that they want the ‘best’ solution to this, and therefore flock to Instapaper, the Fire’s “perfectly useable” experience will whet the public’s appetite for a complete tablet experience, and push them towards the iPad.

Of course, I could be completely wrong, and the Fire could sell millions and millions, and over-take the iPad. Though I think it will be interesting to see the returns rates of the Fire, once people are actually able to use it, and compare it in real terms to their friend’s iPad, or the one they have used in the Apple Store.

3 Replies to “The Kindle Fire – Not an iPad Competitor”

  1. Couldn’t agree more. After initial excitement over its announcement, I am rather underwhelmed by the Kindle Fire. It seemed to promise so much pre-release but feels purely like another method to consume Amazon content (books, music, video). Perhaps my disappointment was from reading too much into the internet rumours that were hyping it up. In addition to its fairly average spec (never the whole story anyway), I’ve yet to see a UK release date/price and the current lack of TV/Movie streaming content on Amazon UK (potential LoveFilm tie-in aside) nullifies a large part of its Stateside appeal. The iPad is undeniably the overall tablet king but if I was looking for a cheaper alternative purely for media consumption, there are others I’d look at before the Kindle Fire.

  2. Good review! I agree completely that the kindle fire is a poorer man’s ipad 1/2/3 but have you checked out the galaxy tab 7.7. lighter, faster, better screen and the same price! Am i crazy or did the japanesse do it again? ninja chop hah

    1. The reason that the Fire was the only ‘Android’ tablet I mentioned is because it was the only one I thought had any hope of competing with the iPad.

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