Amazon announced their entry into the tablet market recently with Kindle Fire and as anticipated, the price point could potentially be something Cupertino-based Apple should fear. While the device’s specs are nowhere near that of the iPad 2, the basic function of the device appeals to a broad range of consumers and the $199 price tag has had consumers snatching them up since they became available.
Let’s look at some numbers. Just after its announcement Amazon received more than 250,000 pre-orders for the tablet in less than a week. That amounts to around 50,000 pre-orders a day with no signs of slowed growth on behalf of the device. Plus nearly 4 million Kindle Fire sold this holiday season. In fact, Kindle Fire is the second best-selling item on Amazon, with the new $79 Kindle taking the top spot.
So what does the device have under the hood that has caused quite a stir? The device’s performance is not on par with the iPad 2, but the 7 inch, 1GHz dual core processor, 512 MB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage makes for a powerful selling point at $199. The device features no 3G access, but considering most tablet users use their device at home, this is hardly something to miss.
The real beauty of the device is not the hardware, but the completely customized Android operating system that Amazon has tailored specifically for their needs. Hardcore proponents of the Android operating system will likely not recognize their OS of choice under the hood, as Amazon has taken everything that makes Android great and tailored it to provide a custom experience. The Amazon Appstore is how Android specific apps will be delivered to the device, since it contains no access to Google’s Android Market.
Additionally, all of your Kindle purchases such as books and magazines will be stored in the cloud, so you don’t have to worry about filling up the 8GB of internal storage with your Kindle collection and can instead use it to enjoy all the apps on the Amazon marketplace. Currently the custom tailored tablet apps are behind those designed for standard phone usage, but popular apps and games are receiving HD versions on the store.
Perhaps the biggest announcement revolving around the Kindle Fire is how it will deliver Internet content through its browser. Amazon has worked on cloud based delivery with their new Silk browser so that a webpage is crunched and processed on the company’s massive cloud network and then delivered to the user as efficiently as possible. The actual technology behind this browser crunching is nothing new, as Opera and recently Skyfire have been doing it for years, but Amazon is the first major company with considerable power to delve into the world of cloud browsing. If the Silk browser is a success, then we could find it available on other platforms.
Will Kindle Fire Prove Competition To iPad?
Kindle Fire is surely not killing iPad but it is proving a healthy competition. More than 4 million Kindle Fire sold this Christmas which shows that there is a market for an affordable tablet device. In the early 90s Apple’s place in the computer market was a niche one for eclectic users. As Android tablets further develop and more affordable options like the Kindle Fire become available, it seems more and more likely that the iPad will face a dire competition.
In fact, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos addressed this very sentiment in his letter to consumers announcing the Kindle Fire. The letter starts with, “There are two types of companies: those that work hard to charge customers more, and those that work hard to charge customers less. Both approaches can work. We are firmly in the second camp.” Bezos realizes that the success of the iPad often revolves around its status as a “premium” device, but that there is need for an every man’s device that can perform the same. This is where the Kindle Fire will come in.
Of course those who are on the fence about a tablet purchase will be more likely to spring for the $199 model since it is less of an investment than the iPad. However, the overall success of the Fire will depend highly not only on Amazon’s support of the product, but also the Android ecosystem. Tablet applications currently fill less than 1% of the thousands of apps on the Appstore so the Kindle Fire is very much in the infancy of the Android tablet life span. Whether or not it will have the effect that Amazon is hoping to achieve, only time will tell.