Ooh, Sick Burn! Kindle Fire Is The ‘Netbook of Tablets’ [Analyst]

Ooh, Sick Burn! Kindle Fire Is The ‘Netbook of Tablets’ [Analyst]

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Netbooks were the dodo birds of technology: ill-equipped to compete and eventually done in by a consumer form of natural selection — the iPad. After just about a week on the shelf, the Kindle Fire is being labeled the “netbook of the tablet market.” Analysts looking beyond the $199 price believe the Amazon tablet just can’t compete with the market-leading Apple device. Are Kindle Fire purchasers headed for a serious case of buyers remorse?

“We think that, over time, consumers may come away disappointed with the Kindle Fire’s lack of functionality and smaller screen size,” warned J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz. Although he slightly lowered his December iPad sales forecast due to the Fire’s strong initial showing, don’t count on Amazon continuing to drag on Apple demand.

“For any vendor to wrestle momentum longer-term from Apple, a fully-loaded offering is a must, and here, the current revision of the Kindle Fire falls short,” the analyst told investors. Other analysts are echoing Moskowitz’s words, pointing to the lack of a camera, GPS, Bluetooth — even a notepad app. Wall Street Journal tech columnist Walt Mossberg describes the Kindle Fire as “much less capable and versatile than the entry-level $499 iPad 2.”

As a consumer, I’d love to see a strong No. 2 tablet maker pushing Apple to innovate and produce an iPad even greater than today’s. However, I can’t forget what Apple CEO Tim Cook said in 2010, when he spoke of netbooks as device people bought for the price, “but when they got them home, they said ‘Why did I buy this?’” A seven-inch tablet without all of the features we expect a tablet to offer will likely run up against the same second thoughts – which can be deadly for devices building the buzz and word of mouth that has propelled the iPad.

Amazon reportedly plans to offer a 10-inch Kindle Fire early in 2012. If so, the tablet needs to fill in the gaps, providing consumers the experience they expect — even down to that notepad app.

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  • Wayne_Luke

    Netbooks didn’t die. They have evolved into Ultrabooks, a category that the MacBook Air is in.

  • VGISoftware

    I think many crow the lame “competition is necessary” saw mainly in hopes that “competition” will be cheaper.

    I also don’t think Apple *needs* competition in order to keep innovating, as, when one is sincerely on a quest for “perfection” they realize that, although perfection, as such, is factually unobtainable, the “perfection quest” yet never ends and the accomplishments along that journey are reason enough to continue that quest.

  • FriarNurgle

    On Snap…

    Still won’t change the fact Amazon will sell millions.

  • Chris Rose

    Really – so the ultrabooks are priced at $300 – $400? Don’t think so. Netbooks died because they could not compete with the MacBook Air, precisely because of what this article describes…

  • David Berezin

    I think Netbooks themselves died.  They were underpowered POS with a very low price with low specs to match.  Ultrabooks (including the Air) have almost as much processing power as “regular” laptops, including RAM and hard drive space.  Hence the higher pricing.

    I think netbooks died when tablets “came to be”.  My iPad 2 can do everything that a netbook could do and then some.

    I don’t know why everybody is comparing the Fire to the iPad, anyway.  They are not in the same league.  My wife loves her Kindle Fire and it’s perfect for what she does – reads books, checks email, some web surfing and playing games.  It’s not meant to take on the iPad.

  • Karl

    “My wife loves her Kindle Fire and it’s perfect for what she does – reads books, checks email, some web surfing and playing games.  It’s not meant to take on the iPad.” 

    Sounds exactly like what the majority of users do on an iPad. Not sure how anyone can think that they don’t compete.

  • Vin Scimeca

    I have a Kindle Fire and also an iPad and I find myself going to the Kindle Fire more often then the iPad since I got it.  I love the smaller form factor and I am also to get my personal email and work exchange email with the Enhanced Email app, browsing the web (including flash sites), games, viewing and editing word and excel files with the Documents to Go app, twitter, notes and to do’s with the Evernote app and so on.  Since I received mine on launch day I have used it every day.  I don’t my tablet to have a camera GPS or bluetooth.

    I am not saying it is an iPad killer at all, but for $199 I am amazed at how much I can do with it.

  • gareth edwards

    So wrong. Let me count the ways….

  • gareth edwards

    see, there you go, a person offering a rational view based on personal experience. I love Apple kit but I really see the Fire offering ‘another way’ that is relevant to a huge chunk of the market. And now times are getting tight for people, it’s doing it at a very attractive price.  Would I want one? No.  Would People that I know want one? Yes, I don’t doubt that they would. It deserves to be a good competitor – it;s got more right with it than wrong which is close enough for many people.

  • Jordan Clay

    I too have both,  I must admit, I go to the Kindle for the consumption of media.  the form factor is great for reading books and watching Youtube on the couch.   But I still can’t get away from the iPad when I want to create.  If I need to type up something or review a document for work the iPad is end all, the Kindle just can’t handle it.  

    The Kindle will reign supreme for a good while if people want to read books and do light internet duty.

  • Jordan Clay

    I believe they do compete on this level.  But the Fire will never compete with the iPad when it comes to business and “higher level” tasks. 

  • David Berezin

    Ipad has size, more storage, a camera, video camera, video chat capabilities, no where near the quality and selection of apps, can be used to create media, not just consume it, 3G option, Bluetooth, ability to air play or play video to a TV with HDMI connector.

    You really can’t compare the two.  I’m not knocking the Fire…It’s a good lower-end, simplified device.  You get what you pay for.

  • Seoung

    I actually sold my iPad after a month of using it. I still have my Fire and I will keep it because I love the integration with my 2nd favorite company behind Apple which is Amazon. I have been using it mostly for Hulu Plus and Kindle Books. Who cares if it’s little underpowered as long as it does what you need it to do.

  • lb51

    You mean, what you want it to do. There’s a huge difference between yourself and the generalized you along with need and want. In short, good for you.

  • lb51

    That might be true and not being contested. However, how long will Amazon want to travel on that path?

  • lb51

    Companies are not in the business of reacting for the most part. Most large corporations have a road map that is malleable, but not a guarantee to be effective. The definition of innovation is highly arguable, and what you think is innovation, business leaders may find as prohibitive to long term objectives.

  • lb51

    Low price only goes so far. If the lower priced alternative does not provide enough expansive service, the incremental cost increase becomes justified in the long run. This is only the early stages of tablets life cycle. Will Amazon be willing to keep up, or possibly take the lead with user interaction and other technology? IMO, net books failed, though they met many of the needs, the system didn’t meet the needs in an appealing manner. The product started to feel cheap.

  • cassandralite

    Hang on.  You’re basing a post on what an analyst from JP Morgan–of all companies–says about the Fire?  That’s friggin’ hilarious.  Different products, Ed, different products.  I’m taking this as a cautionary tale about the dangers of becoming a fanboy.  There appears to be a significant loss in cognitive skill.

  • Bruce Miller

    I think the Fire is “good enough” and will do well. It is aimed at folks who think the iPad has too many features and is therefore too expensive given their needs. The audience for the Fire mainly want to surf, email, read books, watch movies, buy stuff from Amazon and spend as little as possible on technology. Not a thing wrong with that!

  • VGISoftware

    What a bunch of generalized hooey! We’re not talking about “companies.” We’re talking about Apple. One of the huge factors in its current success is indeed INNOVATION–spurred on by its leader and CEO, Steve Jobs.

    No “company” could have conceived the iPhone. Steve did.

    It’ll be interesting to see what Apple comes up with some years down the road. Perhaps he left his legacy with enough of Apple’s staff to enable them to continue the “magic” for some time to come. After all, Disney didn’t die with the death of its founder, did it.

  • Mike Rathjen

    ‘Why did I buy this?’

    Netflix streaming

    Hulu streaming

    Web browsing
    Kindle books
    Amazon Music
    Amazon Prime video

    All that for less than 50% of the cost of the least expensive iPad.

  • lb51

    I did not contest your first comment, in fact I supported it.

  • Cybjorg

    So who can tell me where I can snag that iPad wallpaper?

  • AvoidDroid

    Toy.

  • AvoidDroid

    Tell good ol’ Jeff over at Amazon that they’re different products. He seems to think they’re the same…no…he thinks the Fire is better. Go over to Amazon, put iPad in the search field and the very first posting is an iPad vs. Fire comparison. Generally speaking, intelligent people won’t try to compare apples and oranges ( no pun intended ) !

  • AvoidDroid

    I actually work on my iPad, I can only play on a Kindle.

  • cassandralite

    That’s your point?  I repeat the one I made about becoming a fanboy: serious loss of cognitive ability follows.  Jeff Bezos can call the Fire a car if he wants, but anyone with half a brain can see that it is what it is, and what it is is a different product than the iPad.  Ask yourself why you take it so personally.

  • baby_Twitty

    And all that on a screen 50% smaller, and for people who loves to squirm their eyes

  • AvoidDroid

    I wasn’t aware that anything in my reply suggested I was taking anything personally. I agree with you, these are two quite different devices. All I was trying to point out was that Amazon initiated the comparisons. Media and individuals have widely taken up those same comparisons and this article simply continues to follow along those lines whether the comparisons are reasonable or not. Some people see anything flat with a glass face as a “tablet” and since iPad was the first successful “tablet” people seem to compare any and all “tablets” to the iPad.
    Sorry if I offended you. That wasn’t my intent.

  • cassandralite

    I wasn’t offended in the least.  I was amused/bemused by what I took to be your fanboy championing of All Things Apple, as happens so often on this site.  Glad to hear there aren’t scales over your eyes.

  • Nilay Shah

    I own both and the Fire’s screen is suprisingly gorgeous, however performance lags compared to the iPad 2 which really shines (of course for a lot more $$).  I’m actually going to dump the Fire and pick the the Kindle Touch (just played with one from my cousin) for the great size “form factor” as far as reading.  For hulu, email, the Fire really didn’t work out for me.  Your mileage may vary, but I think the netbook comparison is quite apt.  

  • SevanGrim

    …Um Kindle was doing well before the fire, when it didnt have all the stuff the fire has. Apple analyst love to make it seem like every Apple user is buying their devices for the full functionality, but most people now days buy them because they are the it thing to have.
     most of the ipads i see in the world are being used to read a book, watch movies, or play games. There are ways to do all kinds of productive stuff… bu most people who own a computer would still rather do things on them than their ipad.
     
    The tablets are for the casual market. So to say a tablet that acknowledges that its for the casual market (instead of making all kinds of productivity apps that only a small portion of people will ever use) and is half the price of the ipad is going to disappoint people is absurd. right off the bat, the millions who bought the kindle before it will be 100% satisfied.

    apple propaganda. People who buy the kindle know exactly what they are getting, and they think its worth it.

About the author

Ed SutherlandEd Sutherland is a veteran technology journalist who first heard of Apple when they grew on trees, Yahoo was run out of a Stanford dorm and Google was an unknown upstart. Since then, Sutherland has covered the whole technology landscape, concentrating on tracking the trends and figuring out the finances of large (and small) technology companies.

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