Kindle Fire: Blurring the tablet and ereader markets

Kindle Fire: Blurring the tablet and ereader markets

Summary: Analyst figures show the Kindle Fire is grabbing tablet market share, but should it really be classified as an ereader instead?


The latest tablet shipment figures from IDC show the Kindle Fire to be the biggest competitor to the iPad, with a tablet market share of 16.8 percent. This is a tremendous feat for such a new product, but is it really competing with the iPad?

The Amazon marketing campaign for the Kindle Fire pegs it squarely as a Kindle that does other stuff too. The $199 price puts it firmly in the ereader camp, more so than the tablet market, as tablets are still as a rule much more expensive.

The special user interface that Amazon has used to hide the Android base from buyers further places the Kindle Fire in the augmented ereader category in the minds of most prospective buyers. I believe it is a fair statement that most mainstream consumers buying the Kindle Fire are picking it up not as a tablet, rather an ereader that does other stuff too.

This may be a subtle difference, but it is important to understand as the Kindle Fire is likely not really competing with other tablets. It makes sense to track shipments and sales of the Fire with other tablets, as it may end up inadvertently competing with them, but that may not be accurate. Many Kindle Fire buyers will pick it up to read ebooks, and then graduate into more heavy tablet-type usage because it can do so.

See also: Forget the iPad: Android tablet makers better fear the Kindle Fire

I don't think Apple is concerned about competition from the Kindle Fire, and rightly so. I see a vastly different market segment buying the Fire as opposed to the iPad. Android tablet makers are a different matter, as the cheap Kindle Fire may end up grabbling customers that would eventually have picked up a competing tablet as prices drop.

The Kindle Fire is definitely blurring the line between the ereader and tablet markets. I suspect this is exactly what Amazon intended, and it is no doubt quite pleased with the way things are going with the Fire.


Topics: Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

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  • Seems to Compete in the Big Areas

    The most common activities for a tablet seem to be reading, watching video, browsing (including social media), playing touch friendly games, and email (maybe listening to music as well). Since people buy and use the Kindle Fire for those things, and ereaders either don't work at all or don't work well for several of those activities (all except reading and perhaps email), I'd have to say it competes with the iPad.

    Kindle Fire use has already surpassed iPad use among the people I personally know. That's probably because most of them aren't willing to drop $500 plus on that type of device. In general, I would expect $200 to $250 devices to eventually far surpass the iPad in consumer use. I'm not sure what to expect for business use. That's a bit different market.
    • There are pleny of other users for a tablet

      At least on the iPad, that is. One can use real world applications such as AutoCAD WS. Or a lot of highly specialized applications that can make your productivity skyrocket.
      • Even If True, That Doesn't Change What I Said

        I said "in the big areas." Even if what you're saying is true, and those apps weren't available for the Kindle Fire (while they are to at least some degree), it doesn't change what I said. Some of those apps may be useful, but they're not the biggest uses of a tablet. I also said for "consumer use" as opposed to "business use." Most consumers don't get a tablet for their 'productivity to skyrocket.'
      • AutoCad is not useful to me.

        I have no idea what people use AutoCAD for. I'm pretty sure it does what it's supposed to, but really, how many people need to do that?
  • What are your thoughts on a rumored ten inch Kindle.

    Should Amazon market such a device? Invariable, a ten inch Kindle will be directly compared to a ten inch iPad (whether it is the New iPad or the cheaper iPad 2)

    Personally, I feel consumers have embraced the Kindle for a number of reasons - not the least of which is that the Kindle has a sense of "honesty" about it's design.

    By that I mean, the Kindle was never marketed as something it isn't and it's lower initial cost reflected that fact. (As opposed to the original 7 inch Samsumg Tab that was priced at the same level, more or less, as the iPad.)

    The Kindle is a fine device for it's intended market and has sold well. (There is a basic business lesson to be learned here for those smart enough to comprehend.)
    • They already make it

      • RE: They already make it

        That is not what he is talking about. That is the big e-Reader with a black and white screen.
      • Thanks, Bob. I meant a 10 inch Kindle Fire

        My apologies to all because in my original post, I left out the word "Fire". As Bob noted, I meant to reference a rumored new Kindle Fire tablet.
    • Thoughts on 10" Kindle Tablet

      If Amazon were to make a 10" Kindle Tablet with more power/features it would be a tough sell if priced around the same as the iPad IMO. I believe part of what makes the Kindle sell well aside from it's attractive entry level price is the Amazon name and ecosystem. The whole Apple/iTunes ecosystem is part of the reason that the iPad sells and works so well which Amazon does very well too. This is something I find lacking with general Android tablets. While you can use your google ID for apps it still leaves room for confusion.

      Looking at why people want to invest in a tablet I consider the Kindle Fire a great alternative and while lacking some of the higher features of the iPad and other more expensive tablets has the ability to do what most people want to do with a tablet in the first place and for less than half the price of an iPad you can't go wrong.
    • They already do

      With the Kindle DX, Amazon already markets 10" device. It has it's specific audience and those people would not look at the smaller variants.

      The killer advantage of the iPad is .. the apps. Apple has been extremely consistent over the years which led a lot of high-quality software developer release serious software for the iPad: like AutoCAD WS, Photoshop Touch...
      Apple themselves offer some example high-quality touch applications as well.

      There is no way Amazon will go to the length to secure such software for their tablets and therefore no way for their tablets to compete with the iPad.

      Amazon's tablets will be strictly media consumption devices. There is market for such and no doubt there will be 7" and 10" versions.
  • Kindle Fire: Blurring the tablet and ereader markets

    Hilarious, when some other competitor threatens the iPad we should reclassify it so that Apple still looks good.

    [i]I don???t think Apple is concerned about competition from the Kindle Fire, and rightly so.[/i]
    I think they are concerned, Amazon took a huge chunk of sales away from Apple in the 4th quarter.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Huh?

      iPad sales were about 9 million in Q3, and about 15 million in Q4.
    • Dream on MS fanboi

      How's the Zune holding up? And that Windows Phone 7? And how about your non-existent Windows 8 tablet, with it's non-existent apps....
    • Kindle Fire does not compete with the iPad

      Besides that it is flat, rectangular and has an LCD screen and ARM CPU inside, the Kindle Fire is nothing like the iPad.

      Make no mistake: the iPad is NOT a media consumption device. It has huge ecosystem behind it, which does not only include already existing media and fun apps (that are more related to the iPod actually), but a massive software development platform that offers great benefits for anyone wishing to develop serious software for it.

      Adobe, AutoDesk, to name two... Will these develop for Kindle Fire? Unlikely.
      • RE Kindle fire does not compete with iPad

        Sure it does. If a customer walks into a store and is deciding on whether the Kindle Fire suits their needs and they want to save some money or if they want to spend the extra $$$ for what the iPad has to offer then it is so competing with the iPad.

        Your argument makes no sense. Of course there will be different apps available on different platforms but seeing as quite a few of the apps and services that are available on the iPad or more expensive tablets from other manufacturers then it is definitely in competition with those devices. Adobe does develop software for Kindle BTW.
    • Took a huge chunk away

      That's a little like saying that Hyundai took a huge chunk of sales away from BMW. We'd need a Vulcan mind-meld to know for sure how many Kindle Fire buyers were ever seriously in the market for a $500 iPad, but the percentage is likely to be quite low, just as few Hyundai buyers were ever serious prospects for the BMW salesman.

      It's more likely that the Kindle Fire took sales away from other Kindles, expanded the market that Vizio, Archos, were trying to create, and did steal a few sales away from iPads. But not enough to make Apple care very much.

      The idea that only Apple's profit margin accounts for the difference between the $199 product and the $499 product comes from The Stupid Box. The tear-down guys have found more component cost in the iPad than there is retail price in the KF.
      Robert Hahn
      • RE: seriously in the market

        All that matters is serious buyers that were in the market for a tablet and were considering the iPad. I have had several people come to me saying they wanted a tablet but were not keen on the idea of spending $500+ on an iPad. I usually ask them what they intend to do with that tablet. I found many that had no intention of using their tablet to take pictures, make video calls and only wanted it for to read eBooks, do some basic web browsing, access Facebook, play a few simple games and some apps. Since they mentioned and were considering an iPad I think the percentage is much higher than you think (or want to believe) it is.

        As far as your car analogy goes I think there are a lot of people that consider BMW or some other luxury car when they are in the market for a new car. Then they weigh their options and needs and their budget or how much they want to spend and get what fits all that criteria. Just because the BMW salesmen didn't see those people is because they made a decision even before talking to a salesmen.
  • A 10-inch form-factor tablet from Amazon makes great sense

    If for only one reason: eTextbooks

    It will also be cheaper than the iPad2 as tablets are shopping carts for Amazon rather than profit centers. Thus, expect the feature set on their 10-inch form-factor tablet to be less extensive than either the iPad or high-end Android-based tablets.

    For many consumers, including students and teachers/professors, a decent quality, lower-priced, 10-inch form-factor tablet will win out.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Re: eTextbooks

      This has been a hot topic in the school district that I work for as well as many others that I work closely with. I am not fond of the Apple model locked to iBooks and if Amazon can make it so these eTextbooks are available on Kindle, Android, Windows, MacOS, iOS, etc.. then that would be the more logical way to go. Just my opinion but there has been great fear about Apple's model of locking it to their device and their device only.
      • Price

        I agree.

        There is a limit to how much schools can afford to pay for a machine that can't be repaired and is meant to be discarded after a few years when you are going to need a lot of them.