Heating Up the Tablet Wars

December 1, 2011


Has the iPad finally met its match? Or at least a little competition? By the end of January, Amazon’s Kindle Fire could very well establish itself as a significant player in the tablet industry. According to TechCrunch’ Robin Wauters, Amazon announced on Monday that it already had sold millions of the Kindle Fire tablet BEFORE Black Friday. And the holiday weekend certainly didn’t hurt. Although Amazon did not release specific numbers regarding sales, we do know that the Kindle Fire has been Amazon’s best-selling product for the past eight weeks.

The Kindle Fire could sell five million tablets by the end of January, according to PCMag. The iPad is the dominant force in the tablet industry - up until now other companies that have tried to compete have been unsuccessful. Because of the failed attempts by companies like Hewlett-Packard and Motorola, many are intrigued by the Kindle Fire’s impressive sales.

So what features are making the Kindle Fire a possible competitor against the iPad?

The New York Times’ Nick Bilton broke it down into two categories: price and content. The Kindle Fire costs $200 while the iPad starts at $500, so the Kindle Fire is significantly more affordable. And then there’s the content - it comes with access to over 18 million movies, TV shows, magazines and books. Many aren’t impressed with the physical look of the Kindle Fire but Bilton points out that Amazon knew which areas it could beat Apple in, and hardware wasn’t one of them. Amazon focused on creating a product that excelled in content and price rather than innovative design.

But is the Kindle Fire really competition for the iPad? Apple sold more than 29 million iPads in its first 15 months on the market - so catching up would be quite a challenge. TechCrunch’s Eric Schonfeld doesn’t think that the Kindle Fire has to be as good as the iPad and thinks comparing it to the iPad is the wrong way to look at it. Schonfeld doesn’t consider the Kindle Fire a competitor to the iPad - he considers it an upgraded Kindle. He acknowledges that the Kindle Fire might not offer all that the iPad does but the features it does have, like the digital reader and a strong video viewing device, work very well.

If the Kindle Fire keeps selling the way it has been, there is no question that it will become second to the iPad in the tablet industry. It might not be the industry leader, but Apple will finally gain a formidable competitor.