Runners in Different Races: Amazon Fire vs iPad

As expected, Black Friday sales of the Kindle Fire were very good and some analyst project that Amazon will sell 4 to 5 million Fire tablets before the end of the year. While there have been some indications that sales have cooled a bit, right now there’s no reason to believe that the Fire is going away any time soon.

The thing I find most interesting about the news I see is the continuing comparison to the iPad. Many stories cast the Kindle Fire as a potential “iPad killer” when clearly the hardware and software indicate a different target. Amazon’s new tablet is first and foremost, a Kindle. It’s an eReader first and was probably initially intended to be a response to the Nook Color than the iPad. As I’ve ranted here before, the Kindle Fire was made for book lovers making the initial move into digital. The Fire and iPad are horses running different races. If anything, over the long term, the lower spec’d Fire is more likely to drive iPad sales as many Fire users get hooked on digital media and seek out a more capable tablet still compatible with most of the media they’ve already bought.

It’s too early to tell if the Fire has made a significant dent in iPad sales, but it does look like it has claimed at least one victim as Dell has recently dropped its own 7 inch tablet. Dell has always been pretty quick to drop products that have no long term profit potential, so this move speaks volumes. As for the Nook, Barnes & Noble has been claiming good sales and a doubling of its Nook business since last year. We won’t really know if the Nook tablet has gained any traction until Barnes & Noble’s next quarterly report.

Competition is generally a good thing for the consumer, so I hope the Nook tablet won’t fall victim to the Fire too soon. However, the days of other 7 inch tablets that lack strong ties to eBook and media stores may be numbered.

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