Monday, October 3, 2011

Thoughts On The Kindle Fire

fireImage by matthewvenn via FlickrI'm fairly sure it's possible to be tired of being tired. In fact I'm pretty much there. The past couple of weeks have been very productive which is good but I'm going to allocate a few more hours to sleep over the next week or so. The deficit is contributing to lousy coding quality and an enhanced tendency to wander off the point and babble on incoherently. This opening paragraph is probably a case in point.

I just preordered a Kindle Fire. I may change my mind before shipping time which is mid November. I thought very seriously about the 3G E-Ink touch pad Kindle. It's fifty dollars cheaper and for reading I find a non back lit display much more pleasant. My year or so old 3G Kindle is working fine though and its occasionally nice to have the physical keyboard so I'm going to stick with it for now.

One of the big questions in my mind in regards to the Fire is how much of the current Amazon Android app store is going to be available to run on the Fire. One way Amazon could win my heart and mind on the Fire is to at least provide the option of seeing only applications that have been specifically tested on the Fire and verified within a reasonable level of certainty not to contain viruses or malware. If that means there are only a few hundred apps to start out with than I'm totally OK with that. I'd rather have a few hundred optimized and tested applications than thousands of half baked and possibly malicious ones. If the Fire is a success than app availability will grow steadily over time. Developers will follow the money and a platform with tens of millions of potential customers would be attractive, particularly since the issue of fragmentation, at least initially would not be present on the Fire platform and it shouldn't be that difficult to optimize Android Apps for Fire.

Another question is the browser. Great, it's optimized because some of the page rendering takes place on Amazon's cloud. If I'm recalling correctly Opera has been doing that for awhile with their mobile browser. It's a nice enough feature but how well does the browser work and how much advertiser friendly information is Amazon going to be able to grab while they are doing that rendering? Will they allow other browsers to be made available in their app store or will I be forced to use Silk?

Is eight gig of local storage going to be enough? It's clear that Amazon wanted to keep costs down on the Fire. They cut a number of corners including leaving out an SD card slot and only providing eight gig of local storage. For books this will work great. You're not going to get a whole lot of music or streaming HD video on there though and that may be an issue for some people. The free cloud storage is a nice feature so how big an issue this is will probably come down to an individuals ability to consistently find affordable/free WiFi.

Even with these and other questions surrounding the Kindle Fire I'm still likely to let the order stand. I'm thinking my biggest possible regret will be the announcement of a ten inch Fire early next year. On the one hand that would be a more useful form factor for some use cases but the smaller size is much more convenient to carry.
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