Steve Jobs Was Right: 7-Inch Kindle Fire Sucks To Use



In late 2010, Steve Jobs commented on the sudden influx of 7-inch tablets by calling them ‘tweeners. He said that Apple had considered 7-inch displays for the iPad, but after extensive testing, a 7-inch screen was too small to really be useable.

Android tablet makers, of course, scoffed… then rushed to market with their own 10-inch tablets once they discovered that Steve Jobs was telling the truth. So how long until Amazon updates the Kindle Fire to 10-inches? The results of Kindle Fire usability studies are in, and the 7-inch Kindle Fire is an ugly, hideous mess of missed taps and users screaming out of frustration.

The study was conducted by usability guru Jakob Nielsen, who says the Kindle Fire is a “disappointingly poor user experience,” especially when it comes to magazine reading and web browsing, which is “clunky” and “error prone.”

Main finding? Steve Jobs was right:

The most striking observation from testing the Fire is that everything is much too small on the screen, leading to frequent tap errors and accidental activation. You haven’t seen the fat-finger problem in its full glory until you’ve watched users struggle to touch things on the Fire.

There’s even a conspiracy theory thrown in for good measure!

If I were given to conspiracy theories, I’d say that Amazon deliberately designed a poor web browsing user experience to keep Fire users from shopping on competing sites. Amazon’s own built-in shopping app has great usability, so they clearly know how to design for the tablet.

In other words? Steve Jobs was right. Kindle Fire? ‘Tweener!

  • volodoscope

    I think it’s not gonna hurt Apple at all, but Apple could run few ads point out this obvious point.

  • Jonathan Ober

    I was actually thinking a good commercial will be able to capitalize on the difference of experience with someone getting frustrated, etc. They have to be careful though not to come off seemingly scrambling for Fire users money since the iPad seems to do ok without the bashing anyways. I do like walking in to Barnes and Noble by the front Nook desk and whip out my iPad and ask questions about the Nooks to the employee that is ‘showing them off’ :)

  • hurtle24

    I don’t think your summation is accurate, Jacob Nielsen was referring to non-optimised websites, having UI elements that are too small and tap targets that are easy to miss, he went on to say that mobile optimised sites are fine. But this is just one aspect of his dislike for this device, he really doesn’t like it

  • Seoung

    I actually like my Kindle Fire. I have been using it a lot to watch Hulu and other videos. I even used it watch some stuff on that I couldn’t watch on my iPad or iPhone. It’s good for $200 as a Kindle reader with other options.

  • Asszem

    Also Steve Wozniak said that the Kindle Fire is a failure

  • MrMLK

    Well, to be fair, The Silk browser is marketed for the entire Web, not just the mobile optimized subset. If it doesn’t work well on the standard web, that’s a pretty big deal.

  • Hampus

    Yea that first quote has nothing to do with the screen size, that’s all Android.
    I have no problem tapping links on fully zoomed out websites on my iPhone 4 but doing the same on my 7 inch Galaxy Tab  rarely works out all to well, Androids touch detection isn’t quite as spot on, at least not for me (I imagine people tap a bit differently so…)

    Just gonna point it out though, 7 inch device do have their uses, when boarding a plane my iPad would have to be in my bag as I’m not allowed to carry it in my hands (well some surely allow it but hasn’t been the case for me) and I would thus have to bother taking it out and putting it back in the bag when I’m on the plane, my Galaxy Tab can just be put in my back pocket.

  • Murphy Murphy

    Kindle Fire is much cheaper- some people will take just for that reason.

  • Dan Dillard

    No more unusable than the 3.5″ screen on the iPhone when compared to 4.3″ screens.

  • cassandralite

    Steve lived long enough to use the Fire?  I don’t think so.  I, on the other hand, did.  And you know what?  After a week, I really like the thing.  It’s not an iPad, but it wasn’t meant to be.  And for the price of an entry-level iPad, I can make two and half people happy with a Fire.  All this protesting, the fanboys must be worried about something.  As of this moment, the Fire has 4000 user ratings on Amazon, with an average of 4 stars out of 5; and many of the one stars complain about things that can be changed to suit in the preferences pane.  Does BMW whine every time Ford intros a new car for $30,000 less?

  • cassandralite

    Wow, Jonathan, you are so cool to walk into a BN and show off your iPad.  You do that with your car in parking lots, too?  I gotta say, you’re the kind of guy who it was a pleasure to see getting beaten up by high school bullies.

  • JoshObra

    I’m going for the iPad next year because I plan to use that as a “laptop” with a keyboard case. I think the screen size for iPads are sufficient enough to type up my lectures in class and anything smaller would probably make me have to squint a little (or if the Kindle could do the same thing as a document writer, I don’t know yet as of now). Plus I do kind of like the iTunes store more personally than the Android store, so that’s pretty much my deal breaker for me. But I’d like the kindle because it goes with Amazon Prime movies, which I have already and is not in the iOS devices I believe.

    I’d go all the way to a Macbook Air, but I already have a late-09 Macbook and she’s still working fine still today plus I could save a few bucks as well.

  • iDaBoss


  • iDaBoss

    Looking at the comments, I think everyone disagrees. Personally I think the Fire is a good size but fits a different niche than the iPad. Also, I think the UI on the Fire is crap.

  • robg

    I absolutely LOVE my Kindle Fire.  Looking forward to an ICS 10″ next, when they hit $250.

  • Theyseeyoutrollin

    Have you considered that not everyone wants the same size tablet? That’s like trying to argue that there should only be one screen size of laptops. Shockingly, different people like different things. 

  • adbird


  • SevanGrim

    lol oh Brownlee. No shame.
     Obviously the fire is doing alright despite your claims that its a packaged turd.

  • f3llony

    Steve Jobs is also dead. 

  • Pradyot Ghate

    So is Galileo… doesn’t change the fact that earth rotates around sun!

  • f3llony

    You can not compare one of the best scientists over time with a CEO of a company with a zero competence in technology, e.g. development, engineering, programming etc itself. Thats just stupid. 

  • Gary Mullinax

    You’re an idiot.  Students will be studying Apple and Jobs for decades.  Eric Schimdt, not so much (maybe as the abstract).

  • Gary Mullinax

    Numbers don’t lie.  I’ve been trackng the rankings for The Fire for the past few days.

    4 and 5 stars = Excellent/Very Good
    3 Stars = Just OK
    2 and 1 Stars Fair/Poor

    Over the past four days, the Excellent/Very Good rankings have gone down.  From 34.05% on 12/3 to 26.62% today.  That means that the majority of users caring enough to rate the tablet think it’s adequate to Fair/Poor.  A good number of the reviews start with “cost vs. expectations” statements.

  • f3llony

    There is nothing to study, except how to patent troll and “invent” already invented things. There is no revolution there, you imbecile.

  • Rob Hruska

    Speaking of things that suck…has anyone on this site ever tried to use it on an Android? It’s impossible.