Amazon's Kindle Fire could challenge Apple's iPad as a tablet for consumers looking for a multimedia device, according to new survey data from shopping and reviews Website Retrevo.com.
Retrevo sampled some 1,000 online individuals about their opinion of the Kindle Fire, a 7-inch tablet that facilitates streaming video and downloading e-books from Amazon's online store. Of those surveyed, some 44 percent said they would consider purchasing "a 7-inch tablet made by Amazon" over Apple's iPad 2. Another 44 percent said they "didn't know enough about the Amazon tablet" to make that decision, and 12 percent said "they'd still buy an iPad."
Despite the interest in the Kindle Fire, the survey also uncovered some branding issues with Amazon's product ahead of its mid-November release.
"The Amazon Kindle is a strong brand and a popular e-reader," Andrew Eisner, Retrevo's director of community and content, wrote in a Nov. 9 research note. "However, it looks like Amazon may have to spend some marketing dollars if it wants consumers to perceive Kindle as a tablet, too. In this study, which was conducted after Amazon announced the Fire, the majority of respondents (35 percent) thought the Kindle Fire was an e-reader."
Despite that hurdle, he believes that Amazon could make Apple sweat a little.
"The iPad 2 is starting to show its age, and the new Kindle Fire is about to make the scene with a very attractive $199 price point," Eisner added. "As popular as the Kindle Fire appears in this study, whether it lives up to expectations on things like battery life, performance, image quality, etc., the picture could get brighter or less bright for the Kindle Fire."
He finds it "interesting" that "the strongest competition the Apple iPad may experience this season could very well come from book and content sellers (Amazon and Barnes and Noble) rather than other tablet manufacturers like Samsung and Motorola."
For its part, Apple has made a show of bravado about the prospect of competing with Amazon, according to an analyst report from Barclays Capital's Ben Reitzes.
According to him, Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer suggested in a sit-down that the Kindle Fire, and its radical deviation from the "standard" Android user interface, represents a big step in the fragmentation of Google's mobile operating system.
"The more fragmentation, the better, says Apple, since that could drive more consumers to the stable Apple platform," Reitzes wrote, as quoted by Business Insider. "We believe that Apple will get more aggressive on price with the iPad eventually but not compromise the product quality and experience."
Whether fragmentation affects the Android platform to the point where it drives consumers to look elsewhere, the Kindle Fire might end up selling millions of units in its first quarter of release, according to analysts such as J.P. Morgan's Mark Moskowitz. Whether that dents the iPad's dominance of the tablet market remains to be seen.