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.
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RE: Disastrous? On what planet...
11/4/2011 1:21:07 PM
Your first point is interesting, but none really say much of anything about Android. LG and Motorola aren't doing great. That would be meaningful if they were the only companies making Android devices, but HTC and Samsung are both doing extremely well. Lots of people are using Google services on Apple devices... that's great for Google and sort of bad for Apple, but, again, doesn't really say much about Android in particular. Finally... It's kind of silly to even mention Boingo (a wifi hotspot provider). Most Android devices are sold with fairly generous 3G data plans - whereas many iOS devices are wifi only.
What the stuff you mentioned says to ME is that Apple's got a great thing going with their profit margins, and that we've got a very competitive marketplace out there. It definitely doesn't say one or the other is "winning" (even sarcastically).
"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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