We’ve recently talked about the release of the new Kindle Fire HD 8.9”. It’s a solid device that gives every indication of being worth an investment. While not quite as versatile as many Android tablets due to Amazon’s proprietary software configuration that prevents access to the Google Play service, there is little else to complain about and a lot to be excited for. Some reports indicate that between this and the 7” model, Amazon’s tablets will outsell the iPad Mini 2 to 1 over the upcoming holiday season.
All that sounds great for Amazon and it’s definitely a sign that they will remain a major part of the Android tablet scene for some time to come. They may be in trouble as time goes on, however. The problem is not what many people have expected. The iPad is hard to compete against, but the surge in video game consoles with touchscreen accessories may hit Amazon in a major way.
The Wii U just dropped, which is what brings this to mind. Nintendo’s new console comes with a controller that doubles as a tablet. It offers a supplementary second display that should come in handy in everything from game play to movie watching. Sure, it requires a Wii U console to work, but that also allows the user to tap into a wide selection of content associated with that system.
Microsoft is also said to be working on a 7” tablet to supplement the Xbox 360 and the as-yet unannounced Xbox 720. Their Smartglass software already allows anybody with a portable device (smartphone or tablet), or even a convenient PC, to tap into the console experience. The Xbox Tablet, as it’s being called, will offer many of the same benefits that the Wii U controller boasts as well as serving the role of standalone portable.
Now, the main use of the Kindle Fire line is in consumption. Amazon designed them for that purpose and there has been no real effort to make them into anything but a convenient gateway into Amazon’s digital content selection. This means that in many ways the same customers they are looking at attracting are also likely to be interested in gaming and entertainment consoles, for obvious reasons. If we’re looking at a class of devices that are exceedingly popular and tie into their own proprietary tablets, as in the case of these consoles, it may cut into Kindle Fire prospects.
While this is all speculation, I can’t help but feel that Amazon is going to have to come up with some special service that distinguishes their hardware offering in the next year or so. The budget tablet market is still going strong, but there are a lot of big names that seem about as well equipped as Amazon who are set to enter the market. Since all the digital content sold through the company is meant to be platform-agnostic, there’s going to need to be something special done. Otherwise it’s only a matter of time before the iPad is just one of many strong competitors for the Kindle Fire HD.