Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Kindle Fire -- no threat to Apple's iPad

Every new tablet-like device that comes out is touted as a threat to Apple's very dominant iPad/iPad2. The new Kindle Fire is no exception. I spent some time stripping away the hype and have come to the obvious conclusion, the Kindle Fire is not a real tablet computer, it is a jazzed up eBook reader. At first, there was the obvious comparisons, but in depth reviews are now coming out online and it turns out that the Kindle Fire is not a viable work machine at all. What is evident, is that there is yet another really nice looking electronic device, not instead of an iPad but in addition to.

If you want to see how the more traditional, now $79, Kindle looks, take a trip to your local BestBuy or Walmart. It is a slim and very usable machine, much lighter and a bit smaller than an iPad. But it has two functions, downloading and reading content from If you compare an iPad to the original or low priced Kindle, it would be like the iPad was sleek sports car and the Kindle was a sub-compact with only one gear forward and no reverse and no ability to steer. The question is whether or not the new entry, the Kindle Fire, narrows the gap?

The simple answer is no. Will I buy a Kindle? Will it be a Kindle Fire? Probably not, based on the specs. Why should I buy a Kindle when I can run a Kindle App on my iPad, and also download iTunes, Netflix, Google eBooks, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Gutenburg and a host of other book and movie options on the iPad? I can also attach a keyboard to the iPad and make a stab at entering data directly.

Current (Fall, 2011) predictions have Apple selling over 120 million iPads with a market penetration of over 84%. See MacRumors. Despite continued dire predictions about losing sales that come with introduction of every competitive tablet computer in the market, sales of the iPad continue to soar. For example, the analysts predicted iPad sales at about 1 million units when it was introduced in April, 2010. Apple sold 3,270,000 units on its introduction. See 2011-2012 iPad Sales Estimates. Despite the fact that Apple's sales continue unabated, there are still plenty of pundits ready to predict its demise caused by new Android machines in development.

Back to my statement that the Kindle Fire is not a real tablet computer. Rather than argue details, look at the specs. It does have a color screen, it does operate with touch technology, it does use a fast dual-core processor but there are some serious questions about how it will function. See Ten things we don't know about the Kindle Fire. For a preview of what might be coming, see the Amazon Appstore on Kindle. Interestingly, there is a barcode scanner listed as an App, but the Kindle Fire has no camera or microphone. How is it going to scan barcodes?

The real issue here isn't will Apple survive, it is whether or not Netflix will survive. The Kindle Fire is aimed at the book/video game/movie download market, not at the computer tablet market. Amazon is competing with iTunes not the iPad per se. See Fox News, Comparing Apples and Fire: iPad vs. Kindle. When you see what passes for a keyboard on the Kindle, think about entering genealogical information and then the question becomes where will you store the information and how will you get it off of the machine onto your computer?


  1. "there is a barcode scanner listed as an App, but the Kindle Fire has no camera.... How is it going to scan barcodes?"

    You enter the UPC manually. It's not really a scanner but functions similarly.

  2. You are missing the major innovation of the Fire. It offleads the processing to the cloud. That is very disruptive. Over time Apple is going to have to play catch up or it will lose. The COGS of using the cloud for most processing is much better than supplying it on the device itself.