Since it’s announcement last September, Kindle Fire have view as the tablet that will “finally” unseat the dominance of the Apple iPad and these are claim where made on the basis that Kindle Fire is a cheap “android” tablet but offers content that can rival Apple’s apps, audio/music, videos and ebook library, while providing a cloud service that equals if not better than the iCloud service of Apple.
Before we make any drastic conclusion let’s checkout the Kindle Fire and iPad’s ecosystem.
Kindle Fire is cheap-dirt compare to the iPad. I’m not going to discuss the hardware in details, since you probably read reviews for Kindle Fire and iPad. But to me the main difference between the two are the camera, display, storage and the processor.
iPad is sporting a 9.7″ screen with fingerprint- and scratch-resistant glass, while the Amazon Kindle Fire is a 7″ multi-touch display w/ 1024×600 (169 ppi) screen resolution. Steve Jobs once said that 7″ screens are “too small to express the software” and tablets with 7″ screens are “DOA” or dead-on-arrival”, of course that was before Kindle Fire.
Kindle Fire will have 8 GB of storage which is said to be good for “80 apps, plus either 10 movies (depending on the quality of the movies) or 800 songs or 6,000 books” compare to the iPad, it has three capacity options for storage: 16, 32, or 64 GB of internal flash memory, just do the math on how many apps, movies, songs and books you can store.
On the processor side Kindle Fire is powered by Texas Instrument’s OMAP 4 dual-core processor which is the same processor used in BB Playbook and the recently announced Motorola Droid RAZR. While the iPad 2 uses 1 GHz Apple A5 which is also based on the dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore CPU with NEON SIMD accelerator and a dual core PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU, the 1 GHz Apple A5 is also used in the new iPhone 4S. Judging from the processor and screen sizes, Ipad is ideal for apps that requires more processing power and screen real-estate, which when run on the Kindle Fire may put the tablet to a crawl.
iPad has 0.7 MP back camera that can shoot 720p HD video at 30 fps with 5x digital zoom and still camera with 5x digital zoom while the second camera is a 0.3 MP front camera shoots VGA-quality 30 fps video and VGA-quality still photos and mainly used for the Facetime feature or video chatting. The Kindle Fire does not have any camera.
OS, Apps, Browser and Cloud
Aside from the hardware , OS, Apps, Browser and Cloud are other things that consumers look in a device and if you ask me the OS, Apps, Browser and Cloud is as important as the devices specs.
iPad or almost all Apple’s iDevices will run the iOS mobile OS which is a lite-version of the Mac OS X, with which it shares the Darwin foundation, and is therefore a Unix-like operating system by nature, Kindle Fire is running a heavily customized Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS, it is said that the Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS installed on Kindle Fire will sports a totally different UI, remember Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS is a mobile OS for smartphones and not for tablets.
For the Apps, let us go with numbers for this one; the Amazon Appstore was launched last March 22, 2011 and with around 3,800 applications and at the same time the Apple App Store has 350,000+. The problem with the Amazon Appstore is that it’s only available in the US and no official announcements have been made about increasing availability to other regions. While the Apple App Store is virtually available everywhere.
On the browser front Amazon uses their cloud powered Amazon Silk that uses a split architecture whereby some of the processing is performed on Amazon’s servers to improve webpage loading performance. While on the iPad 2 uses the new Safari browser (iOS 5.0) which is a great improvement from the old Safari of iOS 4.0 and according to Engadget “Stacked up against an iPad 2 the Fire routinely got beat in rendering pages — but often not by much.” then again who uses browser in an iPad if you have app to almost anything.
On the cloud side, Apple’s iCloud will give you a 5GB of free cloud storage for every account, where you can store your music, photos, documents, purchased content and more, then wirelessly pushes them to all your iDevices. The Amazon Cloud Drive will also give you 5GB of cloud storage and like the iCloud it’s a place in the cloud where you can store your music, photos, videos, and documents, while Apple did not mention any limitation on the number of device that can access your files uploaded to the iCloud, the Amazon Cloud Drive allows access from up to eight devices (mobile devices, computers, and browsers on the same computer).
The Apple iCloud can be increased up to 50 GB and Amazon Cloud Drive up to 1000 GB of storage space for a fee.
Now for the pricing, this may not appear significant but for consumers the price of a device is the first and sometimes the only determining factor if they’ll buy it or not. The Amazon Kindle Fire cost $199.00 while the Apple iPad 2 has a starting price of $499 for the 16 GB Wifi only model and $829.00 for the 64 GB Wi-Fi + 3G model. According to iSuppli; each Kindle Fire cost $209.63 to manufacture while iPad 2 will cost $333.25 (wifi) and $336.60 (wifi+3G) to manufacture.
On the surface the iPad 2 and Kindle Fire may have similar ecosystem but we need to remember that Apple is not a content provider but a hardware manufacturer their main business is to sell iPads and just using software and services as a leverage and to attract buyers. While Amazon is a ginormous store that sells anything from digital content, dead-tree books, clothes, toys to tires and everything in between. The Kindle Fire is the gateway to the Amazon Online Store and I won’t be surprise if the Kindle Fire will have an “in-device” purchase feature that will allow people to purchase items using the Kindle Fire, that will eventually pay for the $10 lost that Amazon that will be absorbing.
Amazon’s strategy to sell the Kindle Fire looks like a page to the HP TouchPad Firesale and like what I posted before “You need to lose money in order to build your user-base.” and the $199 price of Amazon Kindle fire (which is half the price of the cheapest iPad 2) is position to build a large user-base not counting the loyal Amazon.com customers and Amazon is hitting Apple where it hurts the most, in the pockets of consumers. Then again Apple’s formula for the iPad has been tried and tested that yielded great results for Apple, while Amazon’s formula for the Kindle Fire is a page taken from a product that was abandoned by it’s creator and we’re yet to see if it’ll works or not.
Article first published as Amazon’s Kindle Fire and the Apple iPad: Disected! on Technorati.
Last modified: November 15, 2011