As tablet after tablet fail to gain significant market share against the iPad, many have attached their iPad-killing dreams to the Amazon tablet.
Amazon unveiled that tablet, the Kindle Fire, on Wednesday. While its functionality is significantly more restricted than that of tablets like the iPad, some argue that its relatively low price of $199 — $300 less than the least expensive iPad 2 — will mainstream the tablet market.
But the Fire is not your average tablet.
With a 7-inch screen, it is the size of the Nook Color and the Blackberry PlayBook. Most other tablets on the market, including the iPad, Galaxy Tablet, Motorola Xoom and HP Touchpad, have screens that are about 10 inches across.
The Kindle Fire also, like most tablets on the market, runs the Android operating system. But its interface works much differently than other Android tablets. It looks like a bookshelf instead of an app library — which makes sense, as the device’s design makes it much better for consuming content than for running Android apps.
There is no camera, no external microphone and no 3G option. The tablet does, however, come synced to your Kindle library and with access to Amazon’s movie and TV streaming service. Amazon will store unlimited content for users in the cloud too.
What the Kindle Fire most closely resembles is the Nook Color, Barnes & Noble’s “reader’s tablet.” The two devices’ specs match almost identically (including apps and email). Incidentally, Barnes & Noble stock fell 9% immediately after Fire was revealed.
Earlier this month, IDC estimated that Apple had almost a 70% share of the tablet market. All Android-based tablets combined had about a 25% share, and RIM had about 5%.
We’re curious to see what effect the Fire will have on the tablet market. Obviously Nook Color’s content-focused tablet has not heavily increased Android’s market share. But will the Amazon Fire’s more diverse content and much lower price point make more of an impact? And if so, will the app-sparse, 3G-less and camera-deficient tablet be stealing customers from Apple — or just bringing them from the ereader category to the tablet category?
What type of tablet will you be purchasing next? Cast your vote in our poll and share your thoughts in the comments below.