Summary: No conflict and no contest. The Kindle Fire will sell well and be a huge success for Amazon. Other Android tablets will be hard pressed to meet its price point and capabilities. The iPad, OTOH, will continue to sell millions per quarter and not notice the decimation of the nascent Android tablet market.
Short synopsis: The Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet will do more to disrupt the Android tablet market then it will Apple’s iPad market. Why? Because the Amazon tablet will be the first successful Android tablet to sell in any quantity. It will be successful for one reason only, its ability of its users to purchase items through Amazon. That’s it. It won’t be the apps, the games, the music, its ability to play Flash (if it can), its speed, its specs, its openness or anything else that Android lovers like to proclaim as the winning feature over the iPad. Amazon will use the Kindle Fire as a way of expanding their reach into consumer wallets by providing a gateway device that expands on the book buying capabilities of the original Kindle into a more inclusive buying experience at Amazon.
Amazon will makes it money through taking a percentage of every sale made through the device. Apple will make its money by selling people hardware in the form of iPads.
Amazon Kindle Fire
The Kindle Fire is reportedly based on the hardware design of the poorly selling RIM Playbook, only with a less powerful chip to run it. But that’s probably okay, as its real target is the B&N Nook Color, not the Apple iPad. As a competitor for the Nook, the Fire simply has to be able to run Kindle software and allow access to the web via a browser to allow easy access to the Amazon store.
Computerworld’s article lists the following things it expects from the Kindle Fire:
- Amazon’s tablet will likely be 7 inches in size.
- Amazon’s tablet may not have the best hardware.
- Amazon’s tablet probably won’t be available for another month.
- The Amazon tablet will likely run Android — but it won’t look like Android.
- The Amazon tablet probably won’t revolve around Google services.
- The Amazon tablet will be made for media consumption.
- The Amazon tablet could be pretty cheap to buy.
According to TechCrunch, the Kindle Fire can install and run apps and Amazon has created their own store for easy downloading of apps. Reportedly, the Amazon Kindle team weren’t interested in doing the software for the device so Amazon simply hired Quantas, the maker of the hardware to do the software as well. How well they do remains to be seen. We won’t know until it’s released and Android fanbois get a chance to hack into the device and see what changes Amazon has made to their forked version of Android.
Coming as it does in mid-November, the release is designed to coincide with the new Nook Color reportedly set for release around the same time frame. Just in time for holiday sales.
Why will the Kindle Fire sell so well? If rumors are true, Amazon has cut the cruft away from Android and made it a single purpose device, and that purpose is to sell books and video and music and apps and everything else through the Amazon store. Right now, the Kindle can only lead you to their book section, but the Fire has the possibility of doing for other media what the Kindle did for books.
One prediction I will make is that the Android fanbois will have a field day hacking the device to work more like they think an Android tablet should. It’s nice to have a hobby, but most people will be perfectly fine using it as its sold.
And that’s probably a good thing.
UPDATE: Event just finished and Amazon has knocked it out of the park. Finally, another company that “gets” the user experience and is doing everything they can to make it seamless for the user. Their take on the browser with Amazon Silk really plays to their strength as a computing juggernaut in online sales. Their price points are excellent ($199), and the Kindle Fire looks to be an amazing device. Bravo Amazon, bravo.
UPDATE 2: Here’s another take on the same idea from someone much smarter about the field than I, Amazon vs. Apple? No, it’s Amazon and Apple vs. Everyone Else.