The hotly anticipated Kindle tablet was finally announced by Amazon yesterday. In case you missed it, Amazon announced the Kindle Fire, a 7″ tablet capable of books, pictures, movies, apps and the web. But how much of an impact can the Fire really hope to make in a market which is dominated by Apple’s ‘magical device’ the iPad?
I think quite alot. Amazon have done the smart thing and not targeted the Kindle Fire directly at the iPad. Instead the Fire has been positioned much more as a tablet for people on a budget. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles the iPad boasts about. There’s no camera here, no microphone, no 3G, less on board space and a much smaller display. But you start to ask yourself, do you really need all of that?
What the Kindle does give you is access to Amazon’s library of content (and initially this will be absolutely free for a 30 day period). That’s millions of movies, music and books all at your fingertips through the device. Amazon’s content library is more than a rival for iTunes and because all of this will be living in the cloud, your smaller space constraints won’t really be much of an issue at all.
Kindle Fire also provides you with connectivity and compatibility that the iPad has so far failed to do. A USB port isn’t exactly an unusual port these days, yet due to Apple’s insistence that we should all be using their dock, it has yet to make it onto an iPad – Kindle Fire already has one. Apple continually have arguments, fall outs and disputes with Adobe meaning that Flash is yet to make it’s way to any iOS device – Kindle Fire has this out of the box.
Combine that with compatibility with a large variety of file types from documents to movies and music, and you can see how the Kindle Fire does actually have quite a few advantages over it’s iOS rival.
Rather than use Android’s native look or apps, Amazon have made their own which I personally love. Instead of the usual screen full of square blocks representing apps, you are presented with bookshelves full of apps that you can quickly flip through. A nice, unique and very Amazon approach to an interface.
Kindle Fire also comes with it’s own e-mail app and Amazon’s new web browser, Silk. Amazon claim that this browser cuts speed by by splitting the work between the tablet and Amazon’s servers in the cloud. Clever. It’ll also predict the sites you’ll visit next, although I’m not entirely sure how well this will work!
But back to the burning (sorry) question, is the Kindle Fire an iPad beater? Many have tried and failed, Samsung have had limited success and several legal cases, HP ended up discontinuing their short lived touch pads and Blackberry… well the less said about the Playbook the better.
This time however, I think that Apple may have a battle on their hands. Kindle Fire is basically a streamlined iPad, with some new clever thinking and a few ideas better than the iPad itself. And the real reason this will cause market disruption, is because this will only cost $199.99 (£127.00). The cheapest iPad by comparison is $499 (£399) – quite a price difference and one that I think Apple might find hard to justify.
By offering so much for such a little price, Amazon could really change the market and hurt the iPad significantly. I doubt however that Kindle Fire has the power to take the iPad down completely, it is still the best tablet on the market and has the best software available in iOS. But what it will do is force Apple to really rethink their product, the iPad 3 is going to have to tackle the Kindle Fire threat and that’s going to mean a lot of innovation from the guys in Cupertino.
The Kindle Fire will be released on November 15th in the states, there’s currently no date for the rest of the world, but I’m certain that when it does make it around the globe, it’ll be the best received Android tablet so far – but admittedly we are still a long way off the perfect tablet computer from any company…