Oct

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Will The Amazon Kindle Fire Really Spark A Tablet War?

Mark Stephens

Unless you’ve been locked in your mother’s basement with nothing more than a cup of tea and a copy of Jumpship Thrust Control to keep you company, you probably heard that Amazon announced the release of the Kindle Fire this week; that’s their version of the tablet computer first pioneered by Apple with the iPad, and it’s coming out in the US on Nov 15th.

Below we look at how the new tablet shapes up against the iPad and explore their key differences to see if they are really operating in exactly the same area.

In the second post later this week we will look at effects of the Kindle Fire release on the tablet/handset/gaming/apps industry as a whole and specifically on game developers.

Is it Really War….Again?

Some people are predicting …wait for it…a “tablet war”!

Yawn. What is it with these people – have they watched too many movies or played too much World of Warcraft?

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Everything’s a “war” these days and they turn any free market competition into a fully-fledged “war”. Supposedly there’s a war between Facebook and Google, a war between Android and Apple and now…another war…involving tablets. What is it with these war-mongerers?

There are some big differences between the iPad and the Kindle so war is NOT inevitable and that’s where we start our analysis below.

Kindle Fire vs the iPad

Price

The first major difference is price. The iPad weighs in at $499 minimum; the Kindle is just $199 (wonder if its’ cheaper on Amazon?!) That’s a big difference first up. It’s also priced $50 below Barnes and Noble’s Nook Color Android-based tablet.

Purpose

The purpose of the Kindle Fire, according to Amazon, is to read books on. It has created the tablet to sell more books off of its core business – the Amazon store.

That maybe explains the cheap price – it’s virtually giving the tablet away at a bit above cost price, in order to sell more of its core products.

It can also be used to stream video and movies on. In fact users will have access via Amazon to over 100,000 movies and TV shows; 17 million songs; a million books; as well as many newspapers and magazines. Quite a library of content! Who has time for games?

With Apple their core product has always been the hardware – its computers, its iPhones, its iPads and iPods. There is the sense that iTunes only exists for apple to sell more hardware – so it’s the reverse of the Amazon story. That’s perhaps partly why the iPad – one of apple’s core products – is more expensive.

With the iPad it’s quite obvious with all the pre-loaded games that it was made with mobile gaming as one of its key purposes; with the Kindle Fire games seem way down the pecking order after web, movies, app and books. Perhaps they are after partly different markets?

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Size and Spec

The Kindle Fire spec is as follows: 7-inch IPS panel, Gorilla Glass coating, a 1GHz TI OMAP dual-core CPU, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage; chassis weighs 14.6 ounces.

So the screen size is smaller than the 10-inch iPad screen, which in actual fact makes quite a difference. It limits some of the applications that will be effective on it and may diminish the mobile gaming experience, but on the other hand it fits into the pocket easily – and small screens don’t put smartphone users off, do they?

The processor is comparative to the iPad’s which is a dual-core 1 gigahertz processor designed by Apple.

Note that it contains only 8GB of internal storage – which is the same as the cheapest iPod nano and much less than the iPad, but Amazon expects users to use their free storage cloud service to access the media rather than storing it on their device.

It uses the Android OS, though it has a unique look and feel to it due to the heavy customization given to it by Amazon.

Functionality

The Kindle Fire does not have an embedded camera or microphone like the iPad, but it does have Wi-Fi (no 3G though.)

It provides access to the Android Appstore (but not to Google’s Android Market) and also to Kindle books and magazines.

Many questions remain about the uninspiring selection of apps and games for the Kindle Fire when placed alongside the iPad. Other people are concerned about its technical limitations.

On first glance then, war seems unlikely; we would predict a few initial skirmishes and maybe a couple of paintball shots fired across each other’s bows but we don’t expect to have to bring out the heavy artillery for while.

Sorry to you World of Warcrafters, but it seems that the Kindle Fire and the iPad can, strangely enough, live side by side in love and peace for ever and ever Amen!