Amazon's Kindle Fire Tablet - The Newest Player in the Game!
There's a lot of buzz today regarding the announcement of the Amazon Kindle Fire 7" tablet. So as a result, I thought I would discuss the few differences that jumped out at me:
1. The Amazon is a 7" tablet as opposed to the 10" iPad/iPad 2.
My initial thought regarding the size is that despite the fact that there are several other tablets on the market that are 7" as well, 10" has so far proven to be the size that consumers are looking for in a tablet.
Several questions come up in this area:
- Are 7" tablets too close to the size of today's smartphones?
- Is a 10" tablet simply the right size that consumers are looking for?
- Or, perhaps the biggest question - has there simply not been any 7" tablets with a large enough price gap from the 10" tablets to warrant buying them?
Needless to say, with a $199 price point on a 7” tablet backed by the brand recognition of Amazon, we will likely start to find out the answers to all of these questions during the holiday season this year.
2. The Amazon Kindle Fire and most of the other non-Apple tablets run Android while the iPad/iPad 2 run iOS, and RIM’s PlayBook runs QNX.
Although Apple still has the highest number of applications available for an operating system, Android is gaining ground on them. What that means to the consumer is that at the moment, pretty much any application that is being developed for an Apple tablet is also being developed for Android tablets – with the exception of some Apple & Google developed apps. So, assuming the device will be used for at least one to three years, applications shouldn’t be a problem.
3. Amazon has taken a different approach to storage – less on the device and more in the cloud.
The Amazon tablet only comes with 8GB of internal storage, and NO expandable storage/external storage slots. Even though this may initially seem like a downgraded option since many consumers are used to getting 8GB or more of storage on their smartphones, much less a tablet where typically more video is used. However, the flip side is the unlimited cloud storage that comes with the tablet. Books, movies, music, and apps can all be downloaded to the device or streamed when WiFi is connected to a network. Therefore, the vast majority of storage on the device is no longer needed. Only time will tell if the market is ready for this approach, but cloud storage eliminates the consumer decision of “which device to buy – the 16GB, 32GB, 64GB?”
4. There is no front or back camera on the Kindle Fire tablet.
In recent years, there’s been a lot of emphasis on front and back cameras alike. Both smartphones and tablets have continued to increase the megapixels of the cameras, enable higher definition video recording, etc. On smartphones, I would argue that the camera is a very important and desirable feature to consumers as they have essentially replaced cameras in the daily use scenario. It’s simply easier to use your phone – which most people rarely leave anywhere without – to snap off a good picture in the moment of living your life. That being said, although I’m sure there are pictures taken with tablets, the majority of marketing and use of cameras on tablets has to do with video conferencing and applications (i.e. virtualization, social networking apps, etc.).
5. Amazon’s tablet has no Bluetooth, no HDMI output, and no GPS.
I highly doubt the lack of Bluetooth will factor vary heavily into a purchasing decision regarding a tablet. Much like the camera argument, smartphones have a very specific need for Bluetooth since many people use Bluetooth headsets throughout the day while talking on their phones.
Although HDMI is being offered (typically through a mini HDMI cable) as a feature on many tablets, in my opinion, the market really isn’t ready for it yet. Many consumers are still adopting the Netflix streaming through Bluray DVD players and internet capable TV’s. The promise with tablets is the ability to plug the tablet into any TV via HDMI and be able to stream movies through the tablet to the big screen. But, most consumers just aren’t there yet.
GPS is the one feature that I believe Amazon may be missing in their tablet. Currently there are thousands of apps that use location as a way to enrich the user experience. Shopping apps allow you to immediately identify or search local stores for locations or inventory at the click of a button, while navigation and social networking apps allow the user to gain directions or find their friends through the convenience of GPS and Geo-tags. While I don’t believe the lack of GPS will hurt sales too badly, I would expect to see GPS integrated in the next version of the Kindle Fire when it comes out.
Overall, the Amazon Fire tablet has access to the 2nd largest app store in the market, provides cloud storage platform and capabilities which simplify the setup and use for its users, and hits a price point of $199 which is well below the competition. Simply put, this tablet is designed to open the tablet market up to all consumers – not just the Apple ‘cult’ and Android ‘techies’. I would say that Amazon has definitely thought ‘outside the box’ and will likely see the results of their efforts through the holiday season of 2011 and all of 2012.
Attached is a chart from PCWorld which compares the differences in features of various tablets.