Amazon's Kindle Fire: Can it save 7-inch tablets?

Amazon's Kindle Fire: Can it save 7-inch tablets?

Summary: If Amazon can make a go of the Kindle Fire perhaps 7-inch tablets will stick around. If not, the 7-inch tablet is toast.


In the tablet world, 7-inch screens are tweeners that users have little use for. If Amazon's Kindle Fire doesn't make 7-inch tablets stick nothing will.

Let's face it: The 7-inch screen is a bit confusing. It's not big enough for a full screen browsing experience and small enough to not be all that much different than some smartphones with 4-inch screens.

It's a tweener. Sure, some folks like a smaller form factor, but Samsung's 7-inch Galaxy Tab isn't exactly lighting up the sales charts. RIM's PlayBook is increasingly looking like a disaster. When you walk into Best Buy the corner with the 7-inch tablets looks a bit deserted. Perhaps Amazon's $199 price tag will reinvigorate demand for 7-inch tablets.

Photos: Amazon's three new Kindles

Amazon's 2011 Kindle, Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G (hands-on photos)

Amazon Kindle Fire photos

Amazon's mission is to save the 7-inch tablet category. If Amazon can make a go of the Kindle Fire perhaps 7-inch tablets will stick around. But if Amazon launches a 10-inch Kindle Fire and sales of the smaller version tank it's safe say that 7-inch tablets are going to face extinction.

In other words, there's an inflection point for 7-inch tablets. Amazon will have a lot to do with which way this form factor goes.

Also: Amazon's Kindle Fire just nuked the tablet market: Winners and losersBiggest story from the Kindle Fire presser: Silk browser | Amazon Silk - The biggest Kindle innovation is not hardware, it's software

With Kindle Fire, Amazon looks to burn down Apple's house (first impressions) | CNET: To beat Apple, Amazon's trying to be Apple | The Amazon Kindle Fire is no iPad Killer

CNET live blog | Amazon’s Bezos unveils Kindle Fire; color tablet computer | Amazon’s Kindle Fire; At $199, finally a viable college tablet | Amazon’s Bezos unveils Kindle Touch, $99; Kindle, $79 | CNET: Amazon unveils trio of Kindle e-ink readers | Nook vs Kindle Fire specs | iPad vs Kindle Fire specs

All Kindle coverage

Topics: Amazon, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Amazon's Kindle Fire: Can it save 7-inch tablets?

    From how I see it, form factor is never a problem. The only problem is the software and services around a given screen size. If you have the right stack for it, you will win, if you don't, you will lose just like the Playbook. <br>Amazon is going with both the 7-inch size, because it knows it can satisfy its customers with the content it has and make them buy more. That doesn't mean that other 7-inch tablets will start selling like hot cakes.<br>The same is true of the 10-inch tablet as well. No one before Apple could make a 10-inch tablet work. That doesn't mean that the 10-inch size was not good. Even after other OEMs learned how you can make it work, they didn't have the ecosystem around it. <br>Amazon already has a sufficient ecosystem to sell it tablets, while others do not. <br>At the end of the day, SOFTWARE RULES!
  • Wait for the 10 inch Version

    If there is one. The Kindle Fire is the same size as the Kindle 2, sans the little keypad the Kindle 2 has. I have a Kindle 2, and it is great for reading books, but as a device for web browsing, watching movies, not so sure. In addition, the Kindle Fire does not use e-Ink, so no more reading books anywhere - like at the beach, in the back yard or a brightly sun lit room. Maybe if it was a bigger form factor I would consider it, but not the way it currently is - too small for me. Good price though!
  • Depends on expected use

    I have both an iPad 2 and a Playbook. The Playbook gets more usage due to it's size but it's hands down easier to be mobile with. The iPad 2 is just too freaking big. The iPad 2 has not left the house since I picked up a Playbook. It's the coffee table device now. I use the Playbook when laying in bed as well as it's easier to manage.

    Why limit yourself to 10" if you want larger? 15" is what you want .. bigger is always better right?

    I don't find browsing the internet at all on 7" and prefer movie rendering on Playbook as the screen has a better aspect. iPad is 4x3 and heavily cropped. I'm guessing Larry is a Pan / Scan type of guy as he doesn't like the "bars" on the movie.
    • RE: Amazon's Kindle Fire: Can it save 7-inch tablets?

      @MobileAdmin You are right, 10" is too big for many mobile uses, esp public use. My 7" HTC Flyer is great for my bus commute... it is discrete, and I can use the cover as another privacy shield. If you don't mind sharing your biz with your bus mates, go for the 'big ten inch'.
    • RE: Amazon's Kindle Fire: Can it save 7-inch tablets?

      7" is the only tablet I'd buy. I occasionally use my Android phone to browse or check email on free wifi. For what I do in those settings even the small phone screen is OK. If I am doing any "serious browsing" I do it at home on my laptop. Ad me to the 10" is too big for public use crowd.
  • RE: Amazon's Kindle Fire: Can it save 7-inch tablets?

    I love my 7" HTC Flyer (and I loved the 7" Barnes & Noble Nook Color I had before it). The portabililty is unbeatable, and thanks to pinch & zoom, the screen is plenty useful for web browsing. I'd love a 10" tablet for lounging around the house, too. But if I could have just one, it would be a 7" tablet.
    • RE: Amazon's Kindle Fire: Can it save 7-inch tablets?

      @dsf3g Agree... the large tablets are too large, bright, and attention grabbing for public use. My HTC Flyer is prefectly sized. If/when HTC upgrades the OS for better stylus support, it will be near perfect (I really want pressure stylus for Sketchbook Pro).
  • I've got a Nook Color and the only issue is it's too small

    It's a great device for the price, but I won't be buying another 7 inch tablet in the future.
  • Samsung Galaxy

    I have a 7" Galaxy and I love it. I don't think I want a 10"+ tablet to lug around when I have this very convenient and nice form factor device.
  • How does that happen?

    I would like to understand the mechanism by which you think a Kindle Fire success would aid the sale of other 7" tablets. Most people think that Amazon will kill the other Android tablets of all sizes, plus put a dent in iPad sales.

    Is there really such a thing as 'the 7" tablet category'? Does any consumer walk into Best Buy thinking, "I'm in the market for a 7-inch tablet"? That seems to me to be an artificial layering done after the fact, but with no predictive value.
    Robert Hahn
    • RE: Amazon's Kindle Fire: Can it save 7-inch tablets?

      @Robert Hahn
      I, for one, might indeed walk into Best Buy looking for a 7" tablet, but until one shows up that's reasonably priced, technically up to date, and as capable as a 10" tablet, it'd be a waste of my time. However, the just-announced 7" Toshiba Thrive sounds interesting; i.e., a fully functional Android 3.x-based 7" tablet with the same screen resolution as its big brother, expandable storage, and with both USB and HDMI ports. If Toshiba delivers, I may finally walk out of Best Buy with a tablet.
    • RE: Amazon's Kindle Fire: Can it save 7-inch tablets?

      @Robert Hahn My female acquaintances like the 7 because it fits in purse. Don't know of this is a factor in sales.
  • Any facts?

    How are 7" tablets selling vs 10"?
    Or do you only do opinion pieces?
  • RE: Amazon's Kindle Fire: Can it save 7-inch tablets?

    A 7" tablet is king when it comes to in vehicle applications. Sits on the dash nicely, a 10" would undoubtedly obscure your view and be distracting. I use mine as a radio, news feed, e mail client and hundreds of other things. Wouldnt be without my 7", and with an adiitional KB Mouse and OTG Modem gives so many more options than a lot of devices.
    I worry that Amazon may actually damage the 7" reputation, as it will undoubtedly be heavily locked down like the ipad.
    • RE: Amazon's Kindle Fire: Can it save 7-inch tablets?

      @steverow I suspect that people will gobble up the Amazon 'package' in spite of growing awareness of targeted marketing and privacy concerns. We like our candy...
  • Nice work tech echo chamber

    Last week: "7 inches is too small. RIM, Samsung et al you guys are idiots"

    This week: "Amazon made a 7" tablet. Genius!"
  • Tech Echo Chamber part 2

    Last week "Playbook? Stupid piece of junk with an OS nobody can work on"
    This week "Amazon took a lower powered Playbook with no HDMI out and put a customised OS on it? Genius!"
  • RE: Amazon's Kindle Fire: Can it save 7-inch tablets?

    Only if I perceive that I can access enough content of interest to me without being nickel & dimed at every turn.
    Jim Johnson
  • RE: Amazon's Kindle Fire: Can it save 7-inch tablets?

    I have been waiting to buy a tablet since Apple came out with their Ipad. While the ipad would fit my needs, I am not a fan of their walled garden and censorship methods. No Flash was also another issue. Now with all their lawsuits, I myself will never even consider a apple product.<br><br>That left my options down to android, Hp or Rim. <br>From what I have read honeycomb wasn't ready for prime time when they came out. HP and Rim had new OS's on them which I was concerned that they would be discontinued within a year. So I sat and waited for software and hardware to mature. When I read about the Nook color and how it could be rooted to a full android device at 250 dollars I decided to take the plunge. By doing this I could learn what android was all about and also find out if the 7 inch form factor was for me. I am also a avid reader too.<br><br>What I learned. While I bought the Nook for the tablet exp I use it most for Reading. It is a great portable device for that and it does it well. It also does web sites designed for mobile devices well. However the screen size is just too small for full web pages for me. For those of you that are used to mobile sized screens while surfing the net the 7 inch form factor will probably work for you. My 53 year old eyes and fat stubby fingers need at least a 10 inch form factor. While I haven't used a ten inch tablet yet, I think the 7 inch is the sweet size for ebooks. For internet use I will get a 10 inch tablet. <br><br>For me a tablet is a couch potato device more for consumption than anything else. If BN or Amazon come out with a larger form factor I would definitely consider either one of them. I am also waiting to see what tablets do with win 8. <br><br>Bottom line I could be waiting a long time before I get my 10 inch tablet. At this point it looks like I will wait till win 8 or icecream android is released. Not holding my breath here
  • RE: Amazon's Kindle Fire: Can it save 7-inch tablets?

    As much as I love the portability of 7 inch tablets, my preference is and will always be a 10 inch tablet. I am more satisfied reading books and blogs on my 10 inch tablet than my 7 inch tablet, and the 10 inch tablet feels more professional in my opinion. But I do think that Amazon's Kindle Fire is a great move that will put an emphasis on other tablets other than the iPad. There needs to be some variety in the tablet niche.

    Phone Geek