Apple to Amazon on Kindle Fire: Bring it On
November 3, 2011 6:20 PM
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Apple suggests that popular Kindle Fire will hurt Android
Thus far Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
) has been the only Android tablet maker to make major inroads against the wildly popular Apple, Inc. (
) iPad's dominant market share. But that situation is about to change thanks to Amazon.com Inc.'s (
) new Android-powered
Kindle Fire tablet
. Priced at $200 the tablet is the cheapest Android tablet to hit the market yet, and its specs are surprisingly respectable. Driven largely by the attractive price, the tablet was
registering pre-orders of 50,000 units a day
in lieu of its November 15 launch.
Of all companies, you would think this would be most concerning to Apple. However, Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes
that Apple's top executives are entirely unphased by the Fire's success.
In fact, he says that in a recent meeting he had with Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer, he was told that Apple was pleased with the Kindle Fire's success, which they felt would fracture the Android market and solidify their lead.
While the pricing at $199 looks disruptive for what seems to be the iPad’s most important rising challenge, the Amazon Fire – it is important to note that it could fuel further fragmentation in the tablet market—given it represents yet another platform. While compatible with Android, the Apps work with Amazon products. The more fragmentation, the better, says Apple, since that could drive more consumers to the stable Apple platform. We believe that Apple will get more aggressive on price with the iPad eventually but not compromise the product quality and experience.
Usually when critics of Android talk about "fragmentation", they're referring to the fact that different handsets are running different version of the base OS tree, as Google Inc. (
), the maker of Android, relies on carriers and hardware partners to push out updates (and some updates are compatible with older handsets for hardware reasons.
The "fragmentation" created by the Kindle Fire is a bit different. The tablet does
run a standard build of Android at all. Amazon branched the OS before Android 2.1, and thus has written much of the interface itself. It's added in multi-touch and
a new browser
Many argue this is a selling point. Apple apparently thinks its disastrous for Android.
Of course the Apple brass's objections could simply be sour grapes. Some believe that in eschewing the baseline Android, Amazon made itself harder to sue -- Apple's favorite technique to try to stifle would-be Android competitors.
But with Amazon cranking up production and at least one analyst predicting
sales of 5 million units
this holiday season, we're guessing Amazon and Google aren't losing any sleep over the tablet's success. Clearly, one man's fragmentation is another man's differentiation.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
Fragmentation can be good if you make enough changes
11/3/2011 11:34:49 PM
It looks like Amazon will fragment the Android ecosystem the same way OSX fragmented the Linux ecosystem
By making it similar enough to mainstream Android to allow porting to be a trivial exercise, they invite developers to add Kindle Fire to their supported devices list. At the same time they make it different enough so that it is not seen as "Another Android". Instead it is the Kindle Fire!! Which is special because it is supported by Amazon :D
"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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