Great Debate: Are $200 tablets a game changer?

Moderated by Jason Hiner | November 14, 2011 -- 07:00 GMT (23:00 PST)

Summary: Do the arrival of Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Nobles' NOOKColor herald digital convergence for the rest of us? Jason Perlow and David Morgenstern face off.

Jason Perlow

Jason Perlow

Price is right

or

Not this time

David Morgenstern

David Morgenstern

Best Argument: Price is right

Closing Statements

It's all about price and value.

Jason Perlow

I've already stated that I feel very strongly that Kindle Fire will succeed because of price and the value add that Amazon brings to the table with their content delivery capabilities and integrated app ecosystem.

My opponent, while making some valid arguments relies heavily on Apple's current strong market position and is under the questionable assumption that their research into form factors and Steve Jobs's vision ultimately will outlast Amazon's attempt at achieving tablet supremacy.

But even visionaries can sometimes be dead wrong. Thomas Edison, the man who Steve Jobs has been compared to numerous times, was stubbornly convinced beyond any doubt that Direct Current (DC) was the future in electrical power.

It only took an enterprising businessman named George Westinghouse and the brilliant mind of a young Nikola Tesla to prove him to be incorrect, and as a result the much more efficient Alternating Current (AC) became in use all over the world for power transmission instead.

Is Jeff Bezos destined to be the George Westinghouse of tablets and digital convergence? We'll soon find out.

 

Apple sells a 'real' tablet

David Morgenstern

As Jason suggests, the question isn't really whether Amazon or B&N have the better hardware than the Apple iPad, because they don't. Or whether they have the better ecosystem or the larger number of apps for the platform. They don't.  
 
Instead, the question for the tablet market is whether $200 will be the magic price point for mass market consumers to enter the tablet market. Ironically for Amazon, this year’s impulse buy may be last year’s buzz. Consumers may finally get behind the mobile e-book reader proposition and go for the $79 Kindle model, rather than the more expensive 7-inch iPad wannabes without apps. 
 
Apple keeps showing customers and its competitors what a real tablet can do. It has sold 40 million iPads in 18 months. And that’s not counting this fall quarter. And Amazon is selling Fires below cost. Where’s the beef?

Huge impact ahead

Jason Hiner

The iPad has resiliently fended off challenges from a steady stream of upstart tablets throughout 2011. However, it is about to get its stiffest challenge yet from the Kindle Fire. As Perlow noted, Amazon has nearly all the pieces in place to challenge Apple from an ecosystem perspective, and that's far more important than the tablet itself. While I still have my doubts about the general usefulness of a 7-inch tablet, the $199 price tag of the Kindle Fire will override those concerns for most people.

Barnes & Noble doesn't have the ecosystem and its tablet is $50 more expensive than the Kindle Fire, so I don't see it being as big of a threat. The best thing the Nook Tablet has going for it is a strong retail presence. I also don't see either the Kindle Fire or the Nook Tablet being as appealing to business professionals, who are some of the iPad's most steady buyers because they want to use the tablet for both work and leisure.

Still, I give Perlow the nod on this one. The Kindle Fire is about to have a huge impact on the tablet market.

 

Talkback

64 comments
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  • RE: Great Debate: Is Amazon's Kindle Fire the People's Tablet?

    $200 tablets are basically hardware storefronts. They may be a "game changer" but they're not raelly a challenge to the iPad. I do expect that we'll see a 7" iPad sooner or later, though. It's not the price of the $200 tablets that's most significant IMHO. The form factor is the more interesting aspect, and I think Apple is hurting itself by not recognizing that 7" tablets provide an ideal compromise between screen real-estate and portability that a 10" tablet cannot match.
    dsf3g
    Reply Vote I'm for Not this time
    • $500 tablets are a rip-off.....

      @dsf3g
      .....because "somebody" can get away with it!
      "Major computing platform....?" lol
      kd5auq
      Reply Vote I'm for Price is right
      • Kindle fire is a disappointment.

        At 250. Nook Color is the best buy so far. If they only added a mic and camera, Nook Color would be the best tablet!.

        Having said that. Asus Tablet at 300 is still the best buy around.
        Uralbas
        Reply Vote I'm for Price is right
  • RE: Great Debate: Is Amazon's Kindle Fire the People's Tablet?

    The price is a significant factor. While the Fire is intentionally limited in scope, it does make you think about the trade-offs between price, form and function. As far as I'm concerned, I was never in the market for a small tablet (the 7" form-factor turned me off the first time I saw one), nor was I in the market for one of limited capability. But, with the price at $200 and, as an existing Prime customer I'm already part of Amazon's zombie army, I'm thinking I could do this. I wonder what the resale value of my year-old Kindle might be?

    Anyway, if I am ever going consider a tablet as a mobile productivity device (Apple need not apply), it's going to be 10" or larger. But Amazon is not pretending to be that sort of device; I'll look elsewhere when the time comes.
    jvitous
    Reply Vote I'm Undecided
    • RE: Great Debate: Is Amazon's Kindle Fire the People's Tablet?

      @jvitous Kindle Trade-in value - not much. Between $20 and $100 depending on which model. Go here to find out how much Amazon will give you as a trade-in. http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/s/ref=tradeinavs?url=rh%3Dn%3A2226766011%26i%3Delectronics-tradein&field-keywords=Kindle&Go.x=15&Go.y=16
      rle11wb@...
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
  • RE: Great Debate: Is Amazon's Kindle Fire the People's Tablet?

    Yes it is a game changer. Tablets at $500+ were over priced for what they could do. Laptops could be had for the same price and do a whole lot more. $200 is a better price to consumers that want a tablet. It could still be a little cheaper though. Apple is going to face serious competition with the Kindle Fire mainly because of the price.
    LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
    Reply Vote I'm for Price is right
  • RE: Great Debate: Is Amazon's Kindle Fire the People's Tablet?

    It might be. Certainly more can afford it, but it all depends on if it has value for what the consumer needs. I personally refuse to buy iAnything, but I doubt I would buy this either because it most likely won't do what I want it to.
    smashandgrab
    Reply Vote I'm Undecided
  • Kindle is not an iPad - but...

    In no way is a Kindle an iPad killer or a substitute for it. Most likely it will drive people toward the iPad or other clone-like device after experiencing the feel of a "tablet" for reading and surfing. But the iPad does so much more and has such greater potential for uses. A Kindle is a Kindle is a Kindle. Yet, Amazon isn't stupid! Does anyone believe they are not working on a full-fledged tablet to really compete with Apple with a $400 product? The Kindle Fire is just an appetizer. Its a first step that will whet the appetite for people not ready to plunk down $500. (And yes, they'll end up spending more in the long run - just like all those who shelled out for a Kindle and will now upgrade to the Fire.) Kindle Inferno is next.
    rle11wb@...
    Reply Vote I'm for Price is right
  • RE: Great Debate: Is Amazon's Kindle Fire the People's Tablet?

    Kindle Fire is the opening salvo of "good enough" tablets. It is really a no brainer for those already with Prime accts.

    I generally follow this line with my computer purchases as well. If I buy "good enough" this year, I can upgrade next year to something more powerful than the current "best" for the same money, have two devices and still spent less than if I'd gotten the best available at the time. Next year Fire II (or whatever) will be out also for $200 and be better than the current iPad2, Galaxys or Xooms. Will it be better than next year's batches of Tablets? No. But I'll still come out ahead.
    admiraljkb
    Reply Vote I'm for Price is right
    • Yup!

      @admiraljkb
      I have a Transformer so I don't need one but I know a few folks who would - like said, it is a moderatively inexpensive step.
      rhonin
      Reply Vote I'm for Price is right