Kindle Fire vs iPad: Why It’s Really A Competition

Nobody can doubt at this point that the competition for the tablet market has just gotten serious.  Apple has the iPad, which all things considered is probably the best thing on the market by a moderate margin, but now there are other options like the Kindle Fire which bring similar service for less than half the price of the cheapest Apple option.  As results have shown time and time again, though, it takes more than a lower price and a set of analogous capabilities and interface options to even out the competition.

To start with, yes the Apple iPad has superior hardware and a more polished experience overall.  It lags a little bit less, has a larger screen, and can go a bit longer in between charges.  Not a lot, but enough to notice.  It is, without hesitation, a great product that I enjoy using for just about anything besides reading.  Some people can even stand to do that on it.

That said, there are some problems with the overall experience.  Apple’s App Store guidelines have cut off some of their most popular content providers and forced others to accept less than ideal situations, for example.  Mostly the problems are along these lines.  Apple put out great hardware, but their handling of the associated use, taken as a whole, can be troublesome.

This is where it is useful to turn to the Kindle Fire as a decent example.  Amazon is basically the first company to bring a functional, polished tablet to market so far that also had an App Store to make use of.  Not only that, they offer pretty much everything you might want to consume right there for download should you need it. They have even pulled the media experience to the front of things to try to make transitions more fluid and experiences more cohesive.

Where Apple focuses on Apps and their use, Amazon has chosen to bring media to the front and weigh apps as no more important than anything else being offered through the device’s interface.  The full functionality is there, and there are thousands of major apps available for download that will provide any kind of content you can imagine, but it isn’t the only option.  Documents, Movies, Books, Music, all get their own place alongside the Apps.  There isn’t even a standard Android home screen anymore.

This is where Amazon went right, in my opinion, and why they are likely to be a serious competitor.  It isn’t about the lower price tag.  That’s nice, of course, but it only goes so far.  It’s more that the Kindle Fire places the emphasis on what it was made to do without shoving it in your face.  It is made to consume certain content and will do so perfectly.  To get to something that might be less polished or run a little bit less well actually takes more steps out of the way to get to, if only slightly.

They made the decision to play to the Kindle Fire‘s strengths rather than make it a general purpose device that could be everything for everybody.  The Kindle vs iPad competition will come down to design philosophy more than simple processing power.

5 thoughts on “Kindle Fire vs iPad: Why It’s Really A Competition”

  1. My only problem with Kindle is that there is no app for the New York Times or the Economist or other news an commentary periodicals that downloads the latest issue from the publisher’s site and costs only the price of a normal digital subscription. Were this fixed,I’d climb on board right now.

  2. My wife got her Fire yesterday and I think it’s pretty slick, Nice overall design, easy to hold and the interface is nice. All that you’ve been recently working on appears at the head of the album-view. Easy navigation. One of my favorite apps isn’t quite working right and the Solitaire games available on Android generally suck. We’ve tied it to my Amazon account, so that we only have to have one Prime membership and she then can download video for free and has access to the hundreds of books I have in my Amazon library. It was easy to rename the Fire and give it a new email that didn’t have my name, but it’s still tied to my account.

    I think as a content viewing tablet, it’s going to kick all the competitors in the hinders. The screen is BEAUTIFUL, especially compaired to the iPad, which I think comes off grainy. I still like my iPad for doing actual work, but this is the best Android tablet so far, not so much by the specs, but by the cosystem that supports it. Cheers!

  3. Dennis, the ny times will be on board soon I’m sure. I am noting this device is moving alon nicely with amazon releasing code this morning so users can add the android market to their kindle fires if they wish. It does add a bit more work but it certainly can be done if you really want to invest the time.

  4. Lynnette: As to android apps: Some are only for android smartphones and won’t work on a larger format. I suspect this is true of The Economist and other android magazine apps.

  5. I’m a huge Kindle fan, and the Fire is a great way to get into a tablet. But to compare the two is a bit wishful in thinking. The iPad is in its second generation and is so feature rich with cameras, wireless connectivity, processor and graphic power, and breadth of applications, it’s not even a close comparison.

    The Kindle Fire is positioned to fight the Nook Tablet in offering a lower rent onramp into the world of tablet computing– and it does this nicely, though arguably, worse than the Nook in some regards. Amazon will take the lead because its ecosystem is more than up for the fight with Apple in a few years time, despite its lagging hardware. In fact Amazon has the means to compete with Apple right now.

    Price tag will not be the deciding factor in the competition. I suspect Amazon will launch a full-featured Kindle tablet in the next year or two, putting it on more equal footing in price and features, and Apple may do the same– launching a smaller iPad to compete or discounting the iPad in its current form while it makes the leap to iPad 3 (as it has done with its phone market).

    What will be the battleground for the hearts and dollars of users will be the apps, app stores, and connectivity issues. Apple has begun sorting out its connectivity with iCloud and Airplay (at long last). Amazon has a jump on its Android market, MP3 marketplace, and streaming video. It needs deals with HBO and other content providers to keep in step. The reason it will shed the Nook off its shoulders in the tablet market (e-ink readers is another story) is that it has the power of so many credit cards on file (as does Apple) ready to spend a few dollars at the touch of an icon.

    I think where Amazon missed a golden opportunity is to include free whispernet on the Fire. Yes it would have been expensive, but a $250 or $300 dollar price point with free whispernet option would have made a real statement and taken the battle to Apple’s doorsteps.

    But comparisons with the iPad at this stage are unfair to Apple and unfair to Amazon.

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