by Gray Graham
By now I am sure you have heard that Amazon has joined the tablet wars when they introduced the Amazon Kindle Fire this week. Like many things out there the press just loves it. They all proclaim that this will be the iPad killer and Apple will finally have a worthy challenger.
The Kindle Fire is 7 inch color tablet that allows you to browse the web and access Amazon's services. It has the same features as the Nook Color except it does not have a card slot to add additional storage space.
So you might ask if it is just like a Nook Color then why is everyone so hyped up about it. I will go one step further and say that it is a stripped down version of the Blackberry Playbook, the tablet from RIM that has just been discounted to $299 at most retailers in the United States. Heck let's go a step further and say that it is a stripped down version of any Android tablet because it uses an older version that is strictly maintained by Amazon (more on this point later).
The only reason anyone is talking about the Kindle Fire different than any other tablet not an iPad is the $199 price tag. Amazon seems to have decided to sell the Kindle Fire at as low a price as they could so they could enter the market. This in business is known as being a loss leader and is the same principal that printers are sold. At this price you can buy the Kindle Fire and all the other new Kindles at the same price as one iPad 3G.
Now let's look at all this praise heaped Amazon's way. If you have been following the tablet market as I have you might be scratching your head. I have seen the very same people that lanbasted the Galaxy Tab, Blackberry Playbook, and any other 7” tablet as a dumb idea that does not make sense yet when Amazon comes out with one it is a brilliant idea. I am sure the only reason they said a 7” was bad is because Apple said that it was a bad idea.
So let's look at why Apple has been able to sell millions of tablets worldwide and no one else has been able to sell any. First off there have only been 30 million tablets sold in the world to date. That is only a small part of a single percent of the people on the planet. The only people that have purchased an iPad or any other tablet are people that are rich, people that have money to spare, and people that think they have money to spare. The average person is not spending $500 for a tablet that does less than their $300 notebook or nothing more than their $100 smartphone in their pocket.
But a $199 Kindle Fire is a different story. It is a ebook reader, tablet, mp3 player, and game device (sorry Sony and Nintendo) all for less than $200. Even though it does not have any ports, card slots, or a camera (who takes pictures with a tablet anyway) I think the average person will be more than happy.
If that wasn't enough kindle for the fire (sorry it just slipped out) there is a rumor that Amazon is trying to buy WebOS from HP (now that is irony for you). I am sure that the folks at Google are not too happy about Amazon taking their OS and then cutting them completely out of the pie (exactly how they or Apple get away with doing this is beyond me). If I am not mistaken Google has not released any further versions of Android as open source, and I seriously doubt after this they will. I know they tried to be open with everyone but they have been burned a few times by different companies and I am sure they are tired of it and have let Amazon and other know this very clearly.
The thing that everyone is forgetting is that there are several Android tablets coming out at the end of the year from Samsung, Lenovo, and other major manufactures that will also be around $199 and offer more features and access to the Android Market and other companies like Netflix, Hulu, and even Amazon. They will have the ability to do everything the Kindle Fire can do and more. Also remember that Barnes and Noble is due to announce the next version of the Nook Color latter this year.
And don't count out Google. As always they are taking notes and I am sure there are plans to make sure that the Android market improves so that they are on the same level with Amazon and Apple. And speaking of the king of the hill, they have their big conference this week where everyone is expecting them to finally release the iPhone 5 and a cheaper iPhone 4. Maybe they will release a larger iPod Touch that will blow Amazon's Fire out.