Kindle Fire: The First iPad Competitor
Amazon enthusiastically unveiled their new tablet, the Kindle Fire, earlier this week. Many people–myself included–feel that, while it’s certainly no iPad, the Kindle Fire ultimately represents the first, and only, attempt at a competitor to the iPad (though, bear in mind, this device still hasn’t been released yet).
Why now? What makes the Fire so different from the Blackberry PlayBook, HP TouchPad, or the endless sea of Samsung Galaxy tablets? Several things stand out:
- Not only does Kindle Fire undercut the iPad on price, which no other manufacturer has done (Amazon’s said to be losing around $50 per device sold), but the Kindle Fire also competes with the iPad’s fast, easy access to content.
- The Kindle Fire introduces Silk, a truly revolutionary Web browsing experience.
- Amazon has the goodwill of millions and millions of lifetime customers.
Amazon’s digital stores have grown exponentially, and Apple isn’t the only one with a “movies, music, rentals” ecosystem anymore. The fundamental reason devices like the Galaxy tablet haven’t caught on is because, unlike the iPad, they compete solely on a hardware level (which, let’s face it, is beside the point for most people) and don’t provide anything like Apple’s massive content library. Kindle Fire is the first device to give its users something to do when they get it home.
Finally, another company besides Apple with the balls to innovate. Amazon’s new Silk mobile web browser isn’t just “faster” than others, it’s fundamentally different. Amazon calls it a “split-browsing” system: I call it remarkable. By using Amazon’s machine-learning engine–the same system that powers its recommendations–it can predict what pages you’re likely to read and load them immediately. And by using Amazon’s vast, powerful computer system, EC2, all of the heavy lifting is done behind the scenes, before you even ask, on a super-fast network.
This frees up your device’s limited battery life and processing power, and saves a ton of time, because EC2 is already wired to the backbone of the internet. Page requests happen automatically. Files are readied before you need them.
Most importantly, your experience as a Web surfer doesn’t change a bit: it just gets a lot faster.
Amazon really thought this one through, and built a system that gives the user MORE power and MORE features without complicating things. This also makes Amazon the only company to do so-called “cloud browsing”, and probably the only company capable of it (aside from Google). People are concerned about privacy, of course, but that seems a little ridiculous when you realize that it only works on non-secured connections (SSL connections are direct and don’t go through Amazon’s network at all). (Why be paranoid that “everyone will see your browsing history“? Amazon themselves state that “usage data is collected anonymously and stored in aggregate, and no personal identifiable information is stored.” So there.
It’s clear to me that this is the future of Web surfing: there are simply too many advantages, and few, if any, drawbacks.
Don’t underestimate this one. Google creeps people out–how can they not?
No matter how much we might love them, their services are a little intimidating. Google does maps, email, chat, social networking, search, advertising, video, laptops, mobile phones, news, translations, academic papers, blogging, RSS subscriptions, books, apps… is there anything Google isn’t involved with?…
At the same time, their “product”, Android, is so woefully inconsistent that it’s hard to say what the experience of using it actually is. Are you on a tablet or a phone? What size screen do you have? (There are about 12 common sizes in total.) Do you have a keyboard? Are you on Gingerbread, FroYo, or Ice Cream Sandwich? Is your screen high-res, or not? Does your phone use MotoBlur, TouchWiz, Sense, Launcher Pro or Pure Breeze? With all these options, defining what “Android” means is pretty difficult.
Contrast that with Amazon, who pride themselves on doing one thing–serving the public need for easy payment and reliable delivery. From a public image standpoint, it’s easy to see which approach is more, err, “trustable”.
What do you think? Is the a failure because it isn’t a “true” Android device? Is it about to take over the world? Are you buying one? Let me know in the comments!