Here comes more evidence Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire tablet is Apple’s first serious rival in a tablet war so far strewn with the corpses of the iPad’s Android-based victims. In the first skirmish between the two tablets, the Kindle Fire is outselling the 16GB iPad on Best Buy’s website.
At the website, the Kindle Fire sits atop the 16GB Apple tablet when consumers search for the best-selling units. However, Apple iPad remains No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5 out of the electronic giant’s top-five tablets. Still, after the Kindle Fire, Acer’s 8GB Iconia Tablet is the only other Android-based unit on the top-five, placing No. 4 on the Best Buy website.
Why is the Kindle Fire doing so well? Start with the Amazon device being newer than the iPad 2, which has been in the market for more than six months. Then there is the $199 price tag for the Kindle Fire versus $499 for the 16GB iPad 2. Perhaps the strongest selling point is one Apple has profited from already: a ready-made ecosphere where Amazon Fire tablet buyers can easily buy Amazon music, e-books, apps and cloud storage. This tightly-woven interface is unique for an Android device, attracting all of the Kindle e-reader owners, as well as consumers already using Amazon’s other services.
But should Apple be quaking in their boots about this new challenger? Hardly.
“We believe the iPad still stands out as the industry standard in terms of software integration,” writes Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes. Although the Kindle Fire is new, reviews are coming back and they are not all glowing. Other than the low price, reviewers focused on the Kindle Fire’s lack of camera, microphone, GPS, Bluetooth, calendar or even a note pad. Other reviews mentioned the animations on the Kindle Fire were not as slick as the iPad.
Beyond whether the iPad or the Kindle Fire is the top-selling tablet online at one retailer, the potentially more important point is how the Amazon device could change the market. Rather than the iPad swimming in a pool with dozens of tiny pirahnas, the new Android tablet could instead make it a two-way contest between two large sharks.