Kindle Fire HDX coming to the cubicle with the Microsoft Surface in its sights

Kindle Fire HDX coming to the cubicle with the Microsoft Surface in its sights

Summary: Microsoft has the iPad targeted with its clever Surface ad campaign and that should ramp up even more when the expected small tablet appears later this year. It might be prudent to keep an eye on the newest Kindle Fire.


Microsoft is serious about making a go with its Surface tablet line. The second generation models look good and the firm in Redmond is already pushing them hard. There is a smaller, probably 8-inch, Surface tablet expected to appear soon, and that would likely be aimed at the consumer market that is currently buying the iPad mini. 

Amazon just unveiled its latest Kindle Fire HDX tablet line along with its newest OS. ZDNet's Rachel King has all of the details of the new tablets and they look to continue Amazon's domination of the US Android tablet market. Figures from earlier this year show that fully a third of Android tablets in the US were Kindle Fires, far more than any other vendor's.

Credit: Localytics

The new line of Kindle Fires should continue this dominance in the US as they are capable and competitively priced. That will likely keep the Kindle Fire the top tablet in the US behind the iPads for some time.

Microsoft shouldn't get fixated on just the iPad as the Kindle Fire HDX is a significant competitor in the US. Even though the Kindle Fire has a reputation as an entertainment tablet, and the Surface tablets are being pushed as work tablets with entertainment benefits, that may change.

Firstly, the small Surface tablet that Microsoft is expected to release soon will surely be touted as entertainment first and work second. The 8-inch (or thereabouts) display is not really suited for a full-time work system. It won't be suitable for a keyboard cover like its larger siblings so it's better marketed as a play tablet that can be used for simple work tasks, either.

Secondly, Amazon has updated its latest OS version, aka Mojito, to include a number of features that make the Kindle Fire better suited for the cubicle. Those updates include 70 controls for IT managers to administer the Kindle Fire in the workplace along with better Exchange support, among others. As Rachel King reports, Amazon has the enterprise and BYOD firmly in its sights.

That new focus pits the Kindle Fire directly against the Microsoft Surface tablets, especially the "Surface mini". Amazon sees Kindle Fire owners bringing their entertainment tablet into the workplace in typical BYOD fashion. The new IT admin features have been implemented to get the corporate world to allow this to happen.

Microsoft needs to keep its eye on the Fire for this reason. Once Kindle Fires start slipping into the cubicle and owners start using them for work tasks they will compete directly with the Surface tablets from Microsoft. The folks in Redmond may find Amazon and the Kindle Fire to be a more formidable opponent than Apple's iPad.

Topics: Mobility, Amazon, Android, Tablets, Microsoft Surface

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  • Amazon's success will be limited

    by its highly Americentric product focus. For most vendors, other markets are an afterthought. With Amazon and particularly the Kindle, it seems to be even less than an afterthought. It took them years to get the Fire out anywhere else.
    • That is because...

      the Kindle is a content selling device. Until Amazon has Prime in those other countries they will solely focus on the US. The Fires have been very successful at driving Amazon content and will continue to do so.
      Thomas Kolakowski
      • Those successes are more modest than Apple's

        because of the severe international limits on Prime. The US has 300 million people.... the EU alone has nearly twice that many.
        • Their population

          Is significantly larger, but GDP wise the while EU is roughly 20% larger than the US. A company can easily be quite successful without touching the EU market. I'm not saying any company should ignore the EU, but they can if their markets prove too restrictive. Just playing devils advocate.
          Sam Wagner
    • They follow the money.

      Limited? Seriously? Amazon is one of the biggest success stories in the history of the world. Their success has never been limited by focusing on serving the U.S. market first. Amazon is a U.S. company and the vast majority of their income is generated in the U.S., so of course they target the U.S. market first. People in the U.S. are severely-addicted media junkies. Amazon and iTunes are our dealers. Amazon became gargantuan by servicing the U.S. addiction.

      Should they support the rest of the world, too? Of course they should. Never turn down additional income. But it makes perfect sense for them to roll things out in their largest market, first. The ROI for development costs comes much quicker if they focus on the U.S. first.
      • Re: Following the money

        Bill, the good thing about Amazon's business model is that they are less crippled by foreign regulations. One of the points I've been making since the mid-90's is that the best approach for dealing with some of the headaches that are EU, Asian and, yes, sometimes even our Canadian neighbor's regulations is to simply not do business there.

        Imagine if Apple said, "Fine, if you think our earphones are too loud, we just won't sell iPods in France." Or if Microsoft told the EU, "We're ending our business there. You'll have to find your own OS that doesn't violate our IP."

        So, sure. Support the rest of the world. But only if the benefit is justified by the cost and burden of doing business there.
    • Agree with Mac_PC_FenceSitter

      Very Americentric, the device is useless in Canada and we are right next door, so basically I don't give a crap about Amazon products.
    • US focus

      I think you miss the point a bit ... the article says that the Kindle will be a problem not for Apple but for Microsoft, and Microsoft is certainly focusing on the US to try and get a win somewhere. Any progress is going to take enormous $ (look at Bing: in the US it has about 15% share but globally it has 4%. Microsoft needs to buy share, and that's impossible to do everywhere). But there is no mini Surface so this is a bit theoretical. It's not any particular 7" tablet causing Microsoft problems, it's all of them, because it's the fastest growing segment and Microsoft has no offer yet, while the competitors will all be second or third generation by the end of this year.

      I think the big iPad will be a huge problem for Microsoft ... The v2 Surface RT tablets are large format, and they really are head to head with iPad. The pending iPad refresh will probably blow them away.
  • Needs Better Touch

    Tablets with a pen using a Wacom touch could replace paper a lot of paper. Microsoft Notes on a Surface are a dynamite combination. If the Kindles had a Wacom touch with software as good as Notes they would take over the office.

    I also think for this to work it would need to mimic the 8.5X11 paper. A 13" screen is about right.
    • While i personally

      Agree with your sentiment. The market seems to have proven otherwise. Tablets with Wacom style stylists have been available for the better part of a decade, while tablets didn't really take off until the iPad was introduced. The average consumer confuses me, but they're happy with dumbed down less capable tablets.
      Sam Wagner
  • I think Amazon`s

    tablet share just jumped another 20%
    What a beast this new tablet is and look at the price !
  • Microsoft

    is going to get killed by the new Bay Trail powered Windows 8.1 tablets by Toshiba and others.
    • Uh, no.

      As Microsoft sells the OS running on those Bay Trail Windows 8.1 tablets, they aren't going to be "killed" by them at all.

      And, really James, you think the Kindle Fire is a competitor to the Surface 2? I've never seen anyone using a Kindle Fire other than as an e-reader or a media device. I've actually seen people using the Surface RT doing actual work, because, you know, Office.
      • Windows + Outlook + Office = Work (and not leisure)

        Why would I waste money on a tablet that reminds me of work (and not leisure)? If I have to do some work on Office, then I am going to use the laptop given by my office to do just that. Why should I spend money on buying tablets running MS Office when all I want to do (as most other do with their iPads and Androids) is to enjoy my leisure time? If there are some personal documents or emails to be done, maybe I will use a home computer or QuickOffice, but that is not what people buy tablets for.
        • While I prefer

          the surface and surface 2, I've seen a lot more kindle fires in the wild. Although, one could argue they really aren't really competing with each other. I hope this will change once a surface mini/cheap 7-8 inch windows 8.1 tablets are released anyway.
          Sam Wagner
      • Did you even read the sales figures?

        There are three times as many people using Kindle Fires as the Samsung Galaxy Tablet. Yet, people consider the Galaxy pretty successful. If it weren't for Kindle Fire sales, Android tablets wouldn't have the sales numbers they have. Kindle Fires have total sales higher than the next three Android tablets combined.

        When you're talking about tablet sales, the Kindle Fire blows the Surface away. In fact, all of the big name Android tablets are individually selling much better than the Surface. Few people are even buying the Surface. I don't see this changing with these new devices because it was never about the hardware speed. They're too chunky for personal portable devices.

        Still, the Surface doesn't have to succeed for Microsoft to make a lot of money. Other manufacturers are making far more appealing Windows tablets, for those few who really want Windows on a tablet, so Microsoft will still make money. Even their patent licensing deals with Google and Apple will continue generating money for them. So, basically they win no matter who wins. So, you're right about one thing. Microsoft isn't going to be "killed" any anyone anytime soon.
        • Oops...

          ..."any anyone" should be "by anyone"
        • What sales figures?

          Amazon has never announced actual sales numbers for the Kindle Fire, and as we learned on Monday, analysts' estimates are little more than "shot in the dark" guesses.

          As for "the Surface doesn't have to succeed for Microsoft to make a lot of money." Well that may be true, and even if it isn't, it's not like Microsoft has an aversion to a division losing billions of dollars quarter after quarter (e.g. Online Services Division). The problem is that when you're trying to rebrand your company as focused on "Devices and Services" and your devices don't sell, well–you look bad (and in Ballmer's case you get fired).
  • Kindle Fire HDX coming to the cubicle with the Microsoft Surface in its sig

    The Microsoft Surface still wins. The Microsoft Surface will run your Microsoft Windows based applications so you know you will have compatibility. Its a nicer form factor. Its not really a tablet. The kindle fire is a tablet which has limited use and is based on android which is linux. So no app compatibility. Different ecosystem which will run the company thousands of dollars in expenses. Its easy to see why the Microsoft Surface is the right choice.
    • Can't compare Fire and Surface at the office

      I assume Loverock that you are referring to the Surface "Pro" that can run your Windows based applications and NOT the plain Surface RT/2 tablet. So I don't know that comparing a Fire HDX with something that easily will cost more than twice the cost makes any sense.

      I don't see any use for a Fire HDX in a business environment and think that's a complete waste of time. But comparing a Fire HDX with a Surface Pro is equally a waste of time.

      Personally, in a business environment it makes much more sense to buy something like the HP Revolve 810 than it does a Surface Pro.