May 3, 2012

Kindle Fire: the Fruitcake of Tablets

Joe Weisenthal, writing for Silicon Alley Insider:

“This morning, this headline came via Bloomberg (via @Jackbeckman):

Amazon Tablet Share Fell to Just Over 4% 1Q Vs 16.8% in 4Q: IDC

That’s quite a big market share collapse!

I observed that it must mean that the Amazon Tablet (the Kindle Fire) is something people will buy as a gift over the holidays, but won’t buy themselves to actually use.”

I had a sneaking suspicion this would happen back when the Kindle Fire, well, caught fire last year. Its $200 price point is hard to ignore when you're 1. in the market for a tablet, and 2. don't know or see a difference between the Fire and an iPad.

After all, why buy a $500+ iPad when the Fire sells for $200? It's the same thing, right?

Similar consumer behavior occurred early last year when a slew of Android tablets hit the market. Big splash, followed by a sink to the bottom.

Apparently, the truth will out. Usability and a rich app market are key to satisfying tablet users, and neither the Android clones nor the Android-in-disguise Fire have either to the degree of Apple's iPad.

This is a difficult thing to explain to non-geeks who ask "what do you think of the Kindle Fire?" Their eyes tend to glaze over somewhere after the word usability, so I usually lead off with describing the huge and varied iOS App Store. A tablet without a rich app market is like a desktop computer without the Internet. Useful, but uninteresting.

Still, some folks don't get much beyond the price. And you always get what you pay for.