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IT: The Kindle Fire is on Fire!
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New player in the tablet war dents iPad sales

altLast Christmas marked the entry of a new player in the tablet market war, putting a dent into the sale of the dominant player in the market, the Apple’s iPad. Amazon released the Kindle Fire late last year in the USA and before the year was over more than 4 million units had been sold.

The instant popularity of the Kindle Fire is not really a surprise when looked at closely. Amazon has a massive and loyal customer base, largelycentred on books and movies, and was already dominating the e-reader market with their Kindle and Kindle Touch. However, going against the iPad,where others such as Samsung and Sony have more or less failed, could have been a risky move, but Amazon played this to perfection.

Keeping to bare essentials, while playing up the Kindle aesthetics, they released a useable and beautiful tablet for less than USD 200. This instantly gave customers who primarily use tablets for the basic functions of reading, surfing the web, watching content, and emailing, areal alternative to the costly iPad. Clearly Amazon had to reduce functionality to some degree and there are a few big items that many tablet users can’t do without.

First, is the lack of 3G, which was also the biggest objection Apple received regarding their first iPad. The Kindle Fire only has Wi-Fi, but unlike the iPad it becomes almost useless without an Internet connection due to its very small storage space.

Second, is therefore, the lack of storage space.With the first iPad, you could load several movies onto the tablet, which I regularly did for long flights.But, there is simply not enough room on the Kindle Fire to use it this way. Amazon states on their Kindle Fire Page that the 6GB available for user content can store up to 10 movies, but as you start using a device like this and savea few books, some music, and of course your favorite apps, in realityyou end up with very little storage.

Third, would be the lack of a camera. It is questionable though if one really needs a camera in a tablet, as almost every phone these days has a camera. Or at least, does one need a camera in a tablet that does not support 3G? A Camera is clearly something users can do without though it is a nice bonus to have.

Seeing these missing features, is the price a good enough reason to go for a Kindle Fire instead of other tablets? Clearly over 4 million customers in the USA believe so, and for good reason.

The Kindle Fire is a much more manageable size than other larger tablets. With a 7 inch screen, it fits nicely in one hand and can even fit in larger pockets of your jacket, and surely in women’s purses. Being also lighter, the need for a stand becomes less oppressing.

altWith Amazon Cloud you can store all your Amazon digital content and this becomes easily accessible through the Kindle Fire. Online content has always been a bit difficult to navigate with Apple, especially because of their only awful product (iTunes), so hopefully Amazon has more successfully solved this.

Amazon isn’t only demonstrating with the Kindle Fire that they can take on the almighty iPad, but that they can also scare Netflix. With Amazon Prime they are offering access to a huge library of movies and books for only USD 79 a year. It is not clear yet how well Amazon stacks up against Netflix in the long run regarding content, but Amazon is in a better position to make deals with content providers as they already have relationships with most of them.

The Kindle Fire is here to stay and it will be exciting to see what the next version will look like. Rumours of an iPad3 being released in the first half of this year are strong, though details of what enhancement, besides a better display and Siri addition, are sketchy. Other tablets still seem to be lagging behind, but as the iPad might lose its stronghold with the introduction of the Kindle Fire, it could just open up the whole tablet market in general.

As with so many other new gadgets and new services, China will be among the last to benefit, if at all! Currently the Kindle Fire is not officially available in China, and even if it were, the streaming of Amazon content is not possible here. Slow Internet connections in general in China also makes streaming very difficult at best, and goes to show that China still has some ways to go to catch up. Surely though, China will find their own solutions, as they already have done with applications and content for smartphones.


By Sam Ragnarsson
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