Amazon vs. Apple — The Kindle Fire Could Make Things Very Interesting

News of the Week: The Amazon Tablet (or officially, Kindle Fire) will be here soon. November 15-soon, to be exact.

As the New York Times (“Amazon Unveils Tablet That Undercuts iPad’s Price”) notes, the 7-inch color touchscreen and dual-core processor are nice and all, but the price point is most likely the feature that will garner the most attention. And at $199 (compared to $499 for Apple’s iPad), this really is a big deal. A more direct Amazon vs. Apple showdown has seems an inevitability for quite some time, and it’s going to be rather interesting to see how all of this plays out. Make no mistake: it doesn’t really matter which side “wins,” because more competition is an inherently good thing for consumers. Apple of course has quite an advantage (per CNET: “iPad grabs 80 percent share, but here comes Amazon”) —

“The Kindle Fire has its work cut out for it. Apple has secured a strong lead in tablets, selling more than 29 million iPads in the product’s first 15 months on the market. Others that have tried to roll out rivals have been less successful. For example, Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry line of smartphones, said it only shipped 200,000 of its own rival to the iPad, the PlayBook, in three months.

That notwithstanding, there are a number of factors that make Amazon a serious contender to the iPad than previous rival products. In my opinion, it really does come to content, content, and content: “Amazon has already nailed the hardest part of the equation: the content.” I’m sure we’ll learn more about this in the next coming month and a half as more information becomes available, but what we’re really interested in are the implications that an Amazon tablet will have for ebooks and the reading of Kindle books.

On the more nuts and bolts, gadgety side of things, there’s also the announcement of a new Amazon tablet browser (Mashable: “Amazon Launches Silk Web Browser for Tablets”). It sounds promising — and that had me wondering if the Amazon tablet will offer things the iPad doesn’t (or, won’t, more accurately: Gizmodo, “8 Things That Suck About the iPad”).

Engadget has some more interesting details on the Kindle Fire: “Amazon Kindle Fire tablet unveiled: Android-based, 7-inch display, $199 price tag

[Update]: Engadget shares another interesting post: “Amazon Kindle Fire impressions.” First impressions of the Kindle Fire seem to compare favorably with the Blackberry Playbook, and at the very least, seems like a serious competitor with the Nook Color (much more on that soon).

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As a quick aside, I’m not overly enamored with the “Fire” product name. Sure, sure — it’s a logical progression from “Kindle” and all that. But, I can’t be the only one who has a Fahrenheit 51-ish association with an ebook-reading tablet and “fire”, right? Or, maybe they’re going for a bit of the “all that is solid melts into air” metaphor.


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I run the ThinkLab at the University of Cambridge, and research digital habits, productivity, and wellbeing.

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