News Analysis: When Amazon introduces its new Kindle Fire tablet, it will do a lot to reduce prices and grow the tablet market, but it probably won't threaten the iPad.
(assuming that the blogosphere is right about the name) device
will do a lot to
democratize the tablet market
The new Amazon model will
put great pressure on the prices of Android-based tablets from other makers,
meaning that Samsung, Motorola and others will be forced to lower their prices
to something at least in striking distance of the
Kindle Fire's announced $199 price
. The market pressure to lower prices will
only increase when Barnes & Noble starts selling the Color Nook 2 at the $250 price point.
By Christmas 2011, you
should be able to buy a nice Android tablet from a number of manufacturers for
around that price. Overall, this is a good thing. On one hand, it will bring
tablets into the hands of a much larger market, and applications for tablet devices
will grow accordingly. On the other hand, it may be the coup de grace for the
netbook market, finally bringing an end to those dreadful devices.
What it won't do is threaten
the iPad. In fact, the new inexpensive tablets might actually help iPad sales a
little as tablets become a more legitimate platform. The iPad is popular
because it's an iPad, pure and simple. People buy it because of the wealth of
applications available for the platform-for the user interface and because it's
both easy and comfortable to use.
This isn't to suggest that
the Kindle Fire (or the Nook Color 2 for that matter) won't be easy and
comfortable to use. Both are intended to be used by people who primarily want
e-readers, and their Android innards are disguised by custom software and
interfaces. They are, first and foremost, something for people who aren't
Android fans, but rather people who want more than the gray e-ink devices that
have been offered as e-readers previously.
What customers will be
getting from Amazon will be something with the physical appearance of a
BlackBerry Playbook (it's virtually the same hardware), but that looks
different when you use it. It will have
the Kindle e-reader, of course, and it'll have a Web browser. Right now I don't know
what else will come with the Kindle Fire, although the word in the blogosphere
is that it won't have an email client, but that one will be available for
The release of the two
Android e-reader/tablets will shake up the Android tablet market. While
Motorola and Samsung may be able to get away with charging more for tablets
with 10-inch screens, the universe of 7-inch tablets will be changed.