Saturday, October 15, 2011

One Month And Counting Until Kindle Fire

Amazon warehouse in Glenrothes, Fife; source M...
I should be coding but that part of my brain appears to be fatigued right now so I'm taking a short break to write a few things down here about the upcoming Kindle Fire.

First up is the fact that I realized we're just one month away from the scheduled debut of the Fire. The coverage in the press has been kind of fascinating. It's an iPad killer, it's a panacea, it slices bread and does the dishes. On the flip side there has been some grousing about the fact that it only comes with 8Gig of storage and lacks things like cameras and SD card slots. Apparently the $199 price tag isn't enough of a clue for some people that this is a no frills device intended primarily for the consumption of media sold by Amazon.

According to some recent projections the Kindle Fire could ship five million units in Q4. That would be about 40% of what the iPad 2 is projected to ship during that same time period which may not sound impressive until you consider Amazon started from zero and that ASUS was overjoyed to sell just under three quarter of a million EEE Transformer tablets in the April->June quarter which put them at number two behind Apple.

Amazon isn't going to be able to deliver as polished an experience as Apple but they don't need to. So long as their build quality is decent and their custom Android launcher and apps are reasonably bug free they'll be off to a great start.

Actually another concern will be can they meet the demand? Limited delays in shipping are going to be OK, heck Apple thrives on 'em but Amazon doesn't want to leave too much money on the table here or cause excessive frustration to prospective buyers. They would be better off suspending pre orders once they get to the point where they aren't confident they can ship in time for Christmas.

With ten inch tablets rumored to be coming early next year Apple might finally have a legitimate competitor. (Or not, more on this topic below). 

It's not surprising that Apple chose not to compete in the 7 inch tablet space. It is a little ironic though that Amazon may use that hole in Apple's product line to leverage their way into a market that Apple has owned since the debut of the original iPad.

All this apparent success has led to speculation that Apple will come out with an iPad "mini". I'll say two things about that possibility:

  1. They already have one. It's called the iPod touch. 
  2. Apple is a premium brand. They don't and won't compete on price. Steve Jobs may be gone but it's going to take more than a few weeks or months for the people in charge to forget his vision and guidance.
Apple has always been content to let others chum at the bottom of the revenue pool. Amazon has thrived on low margins since its inception. These two companies couldn't be better suited to share the tablet space. Yes, there will be some overlap but I doubt it will be substantial enough for Apple to worry.

So basically Apple isn't losing here but the life of pretty much every other tablet vendor just got a lot more difficult.

I have Amazon prime and ponied up the nominal additional money for next day shipping when I ordered my Kindle Fire. I'm hoping to get it on day one of availability since I ordered within the first few days of the announcement. I'm sure I'll be one of about a million people posting first impressions within a few hours of getting mine.

Image via Wikipedia
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