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.