Here Comes the Only Android Tablet Worth Paying Attention To: The Amazon Kindle Fire

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By: Hillel Fuld

As many have said, there is no such thing as a tablet market, there is only an iPad market. The HP Touchpad was a solid device, but we all know how that ended. I personally love the BlackBerry Playbook, and we all know how that is doing. I am not even going to go near the Android tablets such as the Tab and the Xoom, if you have used them, you know why I cannot mention them in the same paragraph as the iPad.

Right now, not only is there no tablet market, but any attempt at a smaller tablet device proved once again that Steve Jobs is a smart man. They all failed. But that is all about to change in a matter of days.

As Lance Ulanoff of Mashable (congrats on the new position, Lance) points out, the iPad did not become the iPad because of its hardware. It was the ecosystem Apple spent so many  years building and the iPad simply plugged into that made it such an overnight success.

You know who else has a nice ecosystem into which a tablet can plug into? Amazon! And that is exactly what is about to happen.

MG Siegler of TechCrunch broke the story over a month ago that  he has actually played with the upcoming Amazon tablet, and he was impressed. If MG, the biggest Apple spokesmen on the Web can even acknowledge another tablet besides the iPad, that is saying a lot for the chances of such a device succeeding. You can read his initial thoughts here.

That was a month ago and a lot of new information is now available. The new tablet will be called the Amazon Kindle Fire and it will be announced at Amazon’s upcoming event this Wednesday.

So why will this tablet be any different than the many others before it that have failed miserably to even dent the iPad’s growing market share?

For starters, the Fire will be a 7 inch device and not a 10 incher like the iPad. That means, at least in theory that there is room for both devices in the market. In fact, Sascha Segan of PCMag is convinced consumers will own two tablet devices in the future much like we own two TVs, two PCs, and two smartphones. Read more on that here.

Whether or not that is the case, Amazon is not launching this device half baked like other tablets were, including the Playbook and the Xoom. There are many huge names on board with this launch both in the hardware department and the software associated with the Fire.

On the hardware side, the Fire will be almost identical to the Playbook, which is understandable since the two devices were pretty much made by the same company. Read more on that process  here.

However, far more important than the hardware and the ability to hold it in one hand, fit it in your pocket and easily type while on the go due to its compact size, is the bundled software that will come with the Fire.

So far, according to AllThingsD, some of the names on board this upcoming launch include “three of the big magazine publishers: Hearst, Conde Nast and Meredith that all have deals to sell digital versions of their titles on the new device, according to industry sources.”

Amazon also has its own App Store with some of he biggest names available. The one thing that is strange to say the least is that, much like the Playbook, the Fire will not come with a native email client on board. There will be options available for download and the browser is always an option as well, but nonetheless, this is a pretty peculiar thing to leave out of a tablet in today’s day and age.

The Fire will run a customized version of Android 2.1 that according to TechCrunch, looks nothing like the Android we know and love… You can read more about that here.

All in all, a solid form factor, deep Amazon service integration, partnerships with various content providers, and a complete vacuum in the small tablet space might be a recipe for the success of this new tablet.

Across the Web, many are declaring the Fire an iPad Killer, while others are saying that Barnes & Noble, Samsung, and Acer are the only ones who should be worried about the Fire.

If you ask me, Amazon has been making some very smart moves in the mobile space for the past year, along with some big mistakes, and if anyone can finally provide a little competition to the Apple beast, it is Amazon. Many have called the Fire a David trying to battle Goliath, the iPad. I don’t see it that way. Amazon is far from a “David”  and I think this a classic case of Goliath vs Goliath. It is going to be a fun fight to watch.

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3 Discussions on
“Here Comes the Only Android Tablet Worth Paying Attention To: The Amazon Kindle Fire”
  • 2.1? Wow, that’s a little out of date. It’s a pity, because it means they’ll be limiting people to using their their suite of apps, and not so much all the new stuff available on the Android Market. Well, I guess it *might* work out for them

  • I’m not worried about what version of Android they used – since it’s a fork, then it is just a base for them to riff off of. My concern is more about providing a good user experience. According to Ryan Block at gdgt it sounds like they’re using a less powerful processor than the PlayBook. Again, not fatal, provided their Android fork does something smart like leverage a GPU to provide a responsive experience (which is a big part of the iPad’s success). Given my experience with the PlayBook hardware I think you do have to be concerned a little bit here – it does have a lag problem.

    Good user experience (including good battery life) + good content is what will make or break the Fire. Here’s hoping that it succeeds.