Can the Kindle Fire really manage to compete with, or even beat out, Apple’s iPad? Opinions are divided, naturally, but it is definitely a strong step in the right direction. What’s going to be most important in the near future is how customers perceive the new Kindle. Is it just another eReader with color, like the Nook offerings? Is it the poor man’s iPad? Would Amazon have been better off making just another generic Android tablet rather than keeping tight control over their ecosystem? Both individual needs and individual experience will play a large part in answering these questions for customers. You don’t necessarily get what you expect or what you’re hoping for, but those are important in informing purchasing decisions.
Since the iPad effectively built the Tablet PC market around itself, that’s going to be the best spot for comparisons. ChangeWave Research, a company specializing in identifying consumer and business demand trends, recently did a survey of 2,600 consumers regarding their interest in the Kindle Fire. The results were interesting.
Of those surveyed, 5% said they had already ordered a Kindle Fire. Another 12% indicated they were fairly likely to make the purchase. Compare that to a similar study of the iPad’s initial launch back in 2010, wherein only 4% considered themselves likely to buy and another 9% said they were somewhat likely. Of those who said that they have already ordered their Kindle Fire, 26% said that they are likely to put off an intended iPad purchase as a result.
Do these numbers mean that the Kindle Fire is doing better than the first iPad was? Only in the most superficially literal sense. Keep in mind that Amazon’s new device is less than half the price of Apple’s. That makes a difference in how many people will even have the opportunity to make the purchase, if nothing else.
What is really telling is the number of people who are likely to put off their iPad purchase thanks to the Kindle Fire. That is only 26% of people who are already getting the 7″ tablet. This would indicate that the clear majority are interested in owning both products. While you can’t say that they are not in competition, it can be assumed from this that the two tablets meet different customer needs (or at least are perceived to do so) at this time.
The iPad currently holds more than two thirds of the tablet market at the moment. Depending on your source, significantly more than two thirds. It is going to be hard to budge no matter who takes it on, regardless of the company backing the hardware. With the Kindle Fire, Amazon has seemingly done a fair job of approaching it non-confrontationally.
This is not just a cheaper iPad or a smaller iPad. It certainly isn’t a superior version of the iPad. The comparisons will remain inevitable because so much of tablet computing is based on what Apple started, but perhaps it is possible for there to be a more nuanced appreciation for the two different pieces of hardware.