In my last article Amazon lights a Kindle Fire as a Gladiator worthy of the Apple iPad, I likened the newly minted Amazon Kindle Fire to a Gladiator ready to do battle against the Apple iPad 2. But is that really the case? Is this an evenly matched fight between two (2) Corporate titans? Or is this a case of Pricing vs Quality, with victory skewed towards Amazon? My article will attempt to compare these two (2) based on specs alone in what may appear to be an open-and-shut-case.
The Apple iPad 2 is not in the same class as the Amazon Kindle Fire. So instead, a specs comparison between the Amazon Kindle Fire and its closest rival the Barnes and Noble Nook Color is a good start.
Clearly, the Amazon Kindle Fire is packing the heat with a more impressive array of specs for US$199 compared the Barnes and Noble Nook Color’s US$249. So as my earlier article pointed out, the Amazon Kindle Fire is indeed a crib of the Barnes and Noble Nook Color. And there is very little Barnes and Noble can do with regards to pricing, as the Amazon Kindle Fire is itself already discounted to the tune of US$50, based on the say-so of Analyst Gene Munster for the firm Piper Jaffray.
Clearly, (oops, did I really double fault?) Amazon is using a Pricing Strategy as they become more like Apple: using their Tablet as a Platform to sell people products from their App Store and stellar Online shopping experience. Only in this case it is a curetted and Amazon App Store for apps to run on a tailor-made Google Android OS with their own browser, appropriately named Silk. For the record, Amazon is the first to copy Apple in this regard.
Gene Munster words express what most people suspect Amazon is doing, quote: “We point out that the outlined potential downside does not contemplate additional revenue from the halo of Prime memberships, digital content consumption, and potentially physical product consumption we expect the Kindle Fire to encourage. With the Kindle Fire, we believe Amazon is attempting a unique Tablet strategy by leveraging a superior cloud-based content delivery system tied with Prime to make money off of a device we believe will sell at a loss.”
Ok. So price is the winner here. How does it stack up against the Apple iPad 2?
Analyst Gene Munster for the firm Piper Jaffray minces no words, declaring the Amazon Kindle Fire an attempt to create an Apple-like experience using pre-existing components that were not tailored to the product, quote: “While the Kindle Tablet will be the first Tablet beyond the iPad that is accompanied by a meaningful content offering (Amazon’s suite of video, music, apps, and cloud services), we believe the overall experience may remain a step or two behind that of the iPad for now”.
In terms of the hardware, the Amazon Kindle Fire lacks the following trappings and trimings that the sliced ham aka the Apple iPad 2 sports:
- No camera, front or rear
- 8GB of onboard storage, half that of the 16GB Apple iPad 2
- No 3G, HSDPA+ Release 7 or LTE (Long Term Evolution) for Wireless Broadband Internet access
- No built-in GPS
- No Bluetooth
- No SD Micro Card Slot
- Threadbare Amazon Apps Store when compared to the Apple Apps Store
Clearly, (three’s a charm!) my earlier conclusions about the Amazon Kindle Fire were spot on: it’s all about the pricing, far cheaper than the 16GB Apple iPad 2 which starts at US$499! Despite the A5 Dual-Core Processor innovation of the Apple iPad 2 as noted in Apple iPad 2 – Dual-Core Easy Skankin’.
But what the Amazon Kindle Fire lacks it makes up with appealing substitutes:
- Cloud-based AWS for Prime members including Free Amazon Cloud storage for e-books and MP3 audio and MP4 video purchased at their store
- Web TV streaming at no extra charge
- Amazon’s Whispersync wireless syncing technology to transfer books between friends or the Amazon Cloud
- Online shopping on Amazon Online Store via their tailored Silk Browser
8GB is more than adequate to store books and music that are mere kilobytes or megabytes in size. Prime Members benefit hugely from having the Amazon Online shipping and e-Reader experience at their fingertips – and in color too! This for a Tablet that appears to be William Shakespeare’s Man for All Seasons!
All the price-centric hype aside, there are curiously a host of unanswered questions pertaining to the Amazon Kindle Fire:
- How much of space on the 8GB of the SSD (Solid State Drive) is reserved for downloads, if any at all?
- Do native Android Apps work in Amazon take on Android or its Browser?
- With Amazon Cloud Storage and Streaming Options, is there a place for alternative Streaming competition?
- Is there a 3G, LTE or HSDPA+ Release 7 version in the works?
- What is the battery life and CPU performance like?
- Is there a 10″ version in the works?
The last three (3) questions are of greatest importance to me and should be to you, dear reader!
This as poor battery life, lack of options that do not tether you to Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) when out in the boonies far from a hotspot and a possible bigger size for those of us who like using the Tablet as a PC via a Docking Cradle and Bluetooth connected Mouse and Keyboard (no Bluetooth, remember?) may turn this low-priced offer down.
Especially those techie types looking for a better bargain than the Fire (get it?) sale priced US$99 HP TouchPad Tablet that sold like hot bread when HP decided to throw in the towel on the PC Business and as per my analysis article WebOS powered HP TouchPad for US$99 – HP exits PC business in Apple’s Post-PC era. Still upset about that folks!
Guess we’ll have to wait till CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2012 before we know the answer to any of these questions. So the verdict is in: Despite the Specs, the Price is still Right.
But if you are in the market for an e-Reader trying to be a Tablet, you know which Tablet to get this Christmas 2011AD and send to your young ones in Jamaica, as Amazon also has available cheaper Ad-subsidized e-Ink Kindles for prices starting as low as US$79. Let the e-book piracy predicted in my article InStat prediction that Tablets to Overtake e-Readers is off base begin as e-Readers cum Tablets begin to usurp Tablets, fodder for another article.
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