I’ve gone over the fact that choosing a Kindle Fire or iPad isn’t really a tough decision before. They are completely different devices that offer drastically different capabilities to their users. A Kindle Fire could no more replace everything an iPad does than it could a traditional Desktop PC, but buying an iPad to do nothing more than what the Kindle Fire is capable of is wasteful at best. There is some speculation that this will be changing in the fairly near future, however, and we have to wonder how well Amazon can hope to pull off a direct confrontation.
Their strength has been the ability to present a device that does exactly what it sets out to do, does it well, and doesn’t claim to be able to do anything more. The Kindle eReader can be adapted to type on if a user feels like it, but Amazon never advertises it as a tool for that. The Kindle Fire was provided with just enough power to handle movie watching and most common apps. To be able to compete with an iPad on Apple’s terms, Amazon would have to be prepared for just about anything a user would want to do.
Some of these things are easy. Cameras, which most people are either convinced or at least hopeful that the Kindle Fire 2 will have, would go a long way toward making it a better communications device. A mic, which obviously would be needed in almost any situation where a camera would be useful, would also allow for voice controls and speech-to-text. The larger screen would offer users greater real estate for customizing their experience and developers more leeway to add in features or information in ways that couldn’t fit on a smaller device. To really match the iPad 3 side by side though, they would need more.
It is pretty safe to say that the Kindle Fire 2 will not have a Retina Display. It will also not have multi-touch capabilities able to handle significantly more than two contact points at a time. The screen will be larger, which is useful, but the impact of that can’t be assumed to cover everything. In terms of processing power, graphics capabilities, and any number of other factors, there is little reason to believe that Amazon has a chance at taking the lead in general use situations.
Does this mean that a larger Kindle Fire will flop? I don’t believe so. If Amazon can keep the price down, it will still stand out. Apple’s keeping the iPad 2 available at $400 is ingenious in that it makes the comparison with a 9-10” competitor at $300-350 closer than it would be otherwise, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to move in. Really the only question will be how much they advertise what the new Kindle Fire is meant to do. If they can make it clear that despite being larger it is still a purely consumption drive design, that will work as an advantage. If they seem to be actively trying to create and sell a full featured tablet, it will take something big.