Posts Tagged ‘Amazon Tablet’

Amazon’s Kindle Fire and the e-Reader Wars

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Amazon.com has been building a huge presence on Google’s Android OS in recent years. You can find an app for the Kindle reader, Amazon.com store, and Amazon mp3 player. There is even an Amazon-based Android market that offers a paid app for free every day. Given Amazon’s large e-reader footprint, and the amount of effort Amazon has put into its Android apps, it was only a matter of time before a tablet was launched. Rumor has it that the tablet will be announced tomorrow under the label Kindle Fire. Everyone is talking about this being the iPad killer. Is it though? Probably not, at least not yet.

For years there has been an ongoing debate about tablets vs e-Readers. I wrote about a few of the competitors a while back in a series called the e-Reader Wars. People were comparing the Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader against the iPad, even though they are in completely different markets. Some devices tried to bridge the gap between e-reader and tablet, like the Adam from Notion Ink and the ill-fated Edge from Entourage. The e-reader market continued to thrive, even as more and more tablets emerged. There is a reason for this. e-Ink is a better medium for reading books. Back-lit displays are hard on the eyes, tablets tend to be heavier than e-readers, and sometimes people want a gadget that does just one thing really well. The Kindle was never really in competition with the iPad.

With the launch of the Nook Color, Barnes & Noble crossed over into tablet territory. The Kindle and Sony Reader stayed true to e-Ink, among some other competitors including the Nook touch. When it comes down to it, a 7 inch Kindle Fire is better able to compete with the Nook Color than it is the iPad. It is not necessarily the device though that is causing the stir. Amazon’s Prime membership, Android apps, cloud services, media services, and Android market have positioned it to change the tablet industry. Amazon provides hardware to sell software, and there is a lot of software to choose from with Amazon’s label. This will certainly make things interesting in the near future, but until the 10 inch model comes out, it sounds like the Kindle Fire is geared to enhance the e-reader space over the tablet space.

Is the Kindle Fire going to excite a lot of people? Of course. This should be a pretty cool device, full of Amazon innovation. The rumored low price point will make this a hit in time for the holidays. Is Apple concerned about this new market entrant? Probably, but there is plenty of time for this to considered a threat. Apple will likely have some time to respond. Hopefully Amazon will continue to carry its e-Ink Kindle readers. Though Apple is a tempting target in the tablet industry, there is still plenty of life left in e-Readers. I carry my Sony Reader Daily Edition to work right along my Tablet S. I like what my tablet has to offer, and I like what the Reader has to offer. They are complimentary, or at least not in direct competition. We may soon see if the market agrees. I expect Amazon to sell a lot of tablets in the coming months.

Even though I don’t think this first run of Kindle Fire will be a huge threat to Apple, I am looking forward to seeing what Amazon comes up with. We should know a lot more about the Kindle Fire tomorrow morning. Let’s hope it can live up to the hype. I have a feeling it will.