Kindle Fire is a true iPad rival, but an eReader it ain’t

A quick straw poll on the train in the morning heading into London and in a carriage packed with 60 people there are close to ¾ of them with an electronic device, 10 reading the Metro free paper and five with a book – oh and one bloke with a paper copy of The Times. Before you ebook guys get excited, a quick walk through of what content people have on their iphones/android phones and iPads I spot a dozen people playing Angry Birds, a couple have newspapers but no books. There are fortunately four people with Kindles. Thank goodness for that.

The ‘casual game phenomenon’ has become prolific with Angry Birds at the top of the tree. Rovio, the company behind it, reportedly keeps turning down bids of hundreds of millions.

So to the Kindle Fire. Yes, it’s a colour Kindle, but ladies and gentlemen, lets not kid ourselves, this is no eReading device. Apart from a small mention of kids books (hinting strongly at interactive ones) the press and promotion of the Fire barely mentions books. It isn't an iPad killer either - "The iPad is dead, long live the iPad". Like kings of yore, the next iPad will be just as much a multimedia device as the last one and you can try and slay it but the Royal House of Apple will sire another market leader.

And so it should be. The iPad was never an eReader and neither is the Kindle Fire. Yes, there will be slip off sales on those devices for our ebooks but there is a reason the Kindle (which henceforth shall be know as The REAL Kindle © Steve Emecz, 2011) is such a big volume for us (83% of our MX Publishing ebook sales last month) is that it is actually an eReader. Amazon have bowed to pressure for a touch screen version which is great as I’ve never like the mini-keyboard, but the e-ink is the real star of the device.

So whilst everyone else is getting excited by the Fire, my advice is to concentrate on The REAL Kindle © as that’s where the sales are, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Comments

Ditto what Dave said

I agree the Fire could make a dent in iPad sales, but it certainly won't kill it. I think Amazon is aiming at folks who want a multipurpose device because they're not heavy readers, but they do want something that lets them read books as well as play Angry Birds and check their email. They also want portability, which a 7" device offers more of than a 9 or 10" one does. As Dave said, these are the folks who would have bought Nook Colors. 

And let's hear it for e-ink and 3G! I pre-ordered the Kindle Touch 3G and I'm hoping the page turning works one-handed, which is the best thing about the Kindle 3 (aka the Kindle keyboard). The Kindle keyboard always sucked from Day 1 (I have had a K1, and K2, and a K3) so I won't miss anything of that iteration except the page forward button.

 

Kindle Fire is not aimed at heavy readers

David Gaughran's picture

Hi Steve,

I agree with your take.

I don't think the Kindle Fire is aimed at heavy readers. If you look at Amazon's promo for the device, books are the last thing mentioned that you can consume with the device, almost as an aside, with movies, television, video, and games given much more prominence. I think the priorities would be in that order for the target market too.

And I also don't think it's intended as an iPad killer. People who want a high end, high performance, high spec device are not going to be swayed by the Kindle Fire, which is essentially a repurposed Blackberry PlayBook with a forked version of an old iteration of Android which locks you into Amazon's ecosystem.

But Amazon are smart here. They understand the demographics of the next wave of e-reader/tablet owners are very different. This bunch aren't the spec-obsessed early adopters. Rather, they care more about price, experience, and content selection. Spec was hardly mentioned in yesterday's slick presentation - it was all about lifestyle/experience/features/content.

The real aim of this device, IMO, is to take out the Nook Color - which was a surprise hit. And if I remember correctly, even though the Nook Color outsold all other models, it's users buy FAR less books than users of the e-ink models.

Smart move by Amazon, but as you said, publishers/authors will be more excited about the low-priced e-readers.

Dave

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