Kindle Fire a hit with analysts, though most say it’s no iPad killer

September 29, 2011

Tech analysts rushed to make comments on Amazon’s latest additions to it Kindle Line — particularly the Kindle Fire tablet the company unveiled at a Wednesday event in New York.

Overall, analysts seem to think the Kindle Fire will do well in the tablet space, and may likely emerge as the leading Android tablet. But this first edition shouldn’t be enough to unnerve Apple, even though it should take a glance in its rearview mirror.

The Fire’s $199 price tag will make the tablet very popular, analysts predicted. “The pricing is critical to gain traction in the tablet market,” said Adam Leach, an analyst for Ovum. He also said that while the Fire is built off Android, Amazon is clearly prizing its own services above Google’s when it comes to pushing content to the devices.

Eric Bleeker, a tech analyst for The Motley Fool said that was a good move by Amazon. "In some ways, Amazon is a bricks and mortar e-commerce place -- they sell physical goods. They've been making a big digital push and it hasn't worked that well for them. Look at the market share for streaming video,  Wal-Mart has caught up with them,” Bleeker said in an interview following the press conference.

The Fire is not, however, an iPad killer, Bleeker said. “It's an entirely new take on Android, has the capability of becoming the de facto Android tablet.” But premium users will still gravitate toward Apple, he said, while the bargain-conscious will be drawn to the Fire.

Those insights were echoed by other analysts. “Hardly an iPad killer,” Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White said, according to a report from the Christian Post. “While Amazon's price point, installed base, digital content and cloud ecosystem will attract a certain consumer demographic to the Kindle Fire, there is still no real competitor to the iPad 2.”

Daniel Ernst, of Hudson Square Research, told Bloomberg that the Android tablet is purely a consumption device, giving it a different audience than the iPad with its camera, video, mail client and optional 3G connectivity.

The companies Amazon could hurt are Research in Motion and Samsung, Bleeker said, who sell similar tablets that are twice the price of the Fire or more. “You thought they were toast fighting the iPad? They're a smoldering remain now, crushed on the low end by a better Android product and on the high end by Apple,” he said.

Bleeker said Apple is still likely going to sell 10 million iPads in its fourth quarter, but if Amazon can sell three million of its Fire tablet, it will count as a success. Down the line, however, Amazon may emerge as a true Apple rival. Bleeker said Amazon will likely release a 10-inch tablet with better specs later, and continue to make improvements to its hardware, which was something of an afterthought on the Fire.

“Yes, it has the potential to be a strong threat to Apple," he said. "However, for now it's targeting very different users.”

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More technology coverage from The Post

Hands-on with the Amazon Kindle Fire: First impressions

How does Amazon Kindle Fire stack up against rivals?

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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