You can cut the split opinions with a knife. Many think that the Kindle Fire will be “an iPad Killer”, many think it’s a disappointment out of the gate (personally, I hate the phrase “* killer”). Both sides are missing the mark(et).
The Kindle isn’t a competitor tot he iPad. It’s not intended to be. It’s a content play – CEO Jeff Bezos himself stated it well, saying the Kindle Fire isn’t a tablet, it’s a service.
The Kindle Fire ships with 8GB of flash storage (so did my original iPhone, many years ago), no 3G connectivity option at all, no cameras, no microphones, and a processor that is rumored to have been scaled back from the original spec to save on manufacturing costs. Sure, it has WiFi, and it’s going to be relying on that WiFi a lot if you have very much content. You can’t store many movies or very much music offline in 8GB. But you can store a lot of books. The Kindle also has a 7″ screen, referred to by many as a “tweener”, since it size-wise is too large to be used as a phone, but is too small for many productivity tasks that the iPad at least begins to be useful for with it’s 10″ screen. Interestingly, the Kindle Fire, as most Android tablets, and seemingly many Windows 8 systems will use, features a 16:9 display rather than a 4:3 display.
So what’s the point here? The Kindle Fire is a content device. Not including much storage or 3G limits the devices ability to store significant content offline, limiting it’s viability as a traveling device (Watching 2 movies as you travel internationally? Not going to happen), yet delivering a 16:9 aspect ratio emphasizes video in landscape (or more likely, well-margined books in portrait) over the more flexible, yet less cinema-friendly 4:3 aspect ratio of the iPad. The 7″ display will prove frustrating to anyone attempting to write, draw, or create significant content in such a limited landscape – a reason I believe that no “tweener tablet” has taken off to date.
While the iPad is intended to be a Swiss Army Knife, useful for a multitude of tasks, yet sometimes feeble when you ask it to be a task specialist, the Kindle Fire is a steak knife. It is the Kindledroid – the result of Amazon making the best of the Android platform (touch, a mature device platform, an app platform to start with, music and movie playback, and a reasonable web browser), and including what they do best in the Kindle today (a reader-focused reading platform). By not highlighting that it was an Android device, and emphasizing it is a service, not a device, Amazon is telling the world it’s built a very good steak knife.
I’ll restate it – the Kindle Fire isn’t a competitor to the iPad. It’ll sell quite well to people who wanted a Kindle, but wanted one that could do more, but can’t make sense of the price tag of the iPad in particular. The Kindle Fire is reasonably well priced (a bit high, IMHO, for what you get), but I expect it to be a pretty popular item this holiday season.