Amazon's new Fire isn't an iPad competitor, but it is a device that will rival Barnes and Noble's Nook. It also may signal a shift toward retail-dominated Web media versus the ad-dominated form. In short, be prepared to pay more for content!
Great vidblog Tom, I also find your conclusion interesting. As a product the Fire has some distinctive features, like the hybrid browser, which remains to tested in real life for their benefits to the user. But overall, the concept and "ecosystem" around it seems fairly fresh for me, and could cause some disruption on Apple's side!
The story I get is that it's 2.1 or something in that range; the latest one that Google has actually released as open-source. The new stuff isn't yet out, and it's not clear whether Amazon will build something on any later version; it would be more work for them. The story I hear is that they're forking the open-source project to create their version.
Great points, Tom. I do think there is a market for an "e-reader+" and if that's the case then Amazon has released the right product at a great price. Do you happen to know which version of Android it's going to be running?
Thanks, Nicole! I think that the Fire is a kind of Reader-Plus, something that adds a media dimension to the reader, and that's a potentially strong mission, particularly at that price point.
In the "universal device" context, I think there are two points to consider. First, universality is in the eye of the beholder. People only value their own missions, not all possible missions, and so it's possible that Fire covers enough ground to cover some significant market. Second, as the price of a device declines, the penalty for specialization declines too. I have a desktop and a netbook that both use the B&N Nook for PC reader, and yet I bought a Color Nook! And you know me, I'm not a gadgeteer either. The convenience was worth the price. That may be true with e-readers overall.
If we look at a pure gadget-for-gadget comparison, Kim, then I agree completely. The risk that Apple has always had is that somebody would come along and not duplicate the product but rather do enough that it sucks away a big chunk of the low-end market buyers. Kindle Fire could surely do that.
I really do think that the big Apple risk comes from the cloud angle, though. Apple needed to take a leading role in "service clouds" because you can't just keep inventing a new consumer appliance to drive your sales.
Great analysis, Tom. At first I thought it was foolish to release this device without a camera because it doesn't allow for the device to be used for video conferencing. But you're saying this device is primarily designed to be an e-reader. That makes sense, but at the same time I thought we were moving toward an age of universal devices rather than dedicated e-readers. Any thoughts on that?
The whole Amazon.reader debate is a double-stupid. It's stupid to think that there's any e-book buyer who doesn't know Amazon's URL, and it was stupider to let ICANN launch the whole free-form TLD initiative to start with.
YouTube's move to a partial pay-for-view model could help relieve a dearth of good new content but it could also complicate debates in many parts of the world over payment by content providers for delivery of their material to customers.
That's what Larry Page said on Google's earnings call, referring to the conjunction of mobile and the cloud. Well, let's chart it then! We need to be thinking about an Internet where 90% of our traffic goes to 70 destinations within 40 miles of us.
Facebook's Graph Search may face some profound challenges and risks, first, because Facebook users haven't been thinking of their posts as product reviews; and second, because Facebook will now have to contend with the social-network equivalent of SEO "gaming" of results.
EU operators are considering joining up to create a pan-European network to reduce competitive overbuild and cost. This might lower costs and focus operators on higher-level, more interesting services.
We think Amazon's Kindle Fire is pushing Apple to a smaller iPad format. But Sony's Vita and the interest in a small device for portable gaming may create the real threat. Keep your eye on the tablet-gaming space!
The risk the iPad now faces is less from feature competition than from price competition, and the players most likely to compete in price are Amazon and Barnes & Noble. By subsidizing their "tablets" with ebook sales these guys may field affordable products that could redefine the market.
A survey by JD Powers found that customer interest in product features is lessening as phones evolve. Rather than features, price is driving purchases, and that change could have a dramatic impact on how IT departments secure these devices.
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