Amazon landed the first real volley in the 7-inch Android device market. Sure, the initial Kindle Fire was rough around the edges, but its shockingly low $199 price tag and integration with Amazon's services won over a few (million) consumers. Amazon sold tons of Kindle Fires in December 2011, and it wasn't long before the device held the top spot on the Android hardware charts.
The Kindle Fire struck us as the perfect tablet-y gift for a close relative who has been hemming and hawing about whether to get an iPad for two years straight—here's a Kindle Fire, dad, now stop e-mailing me every week about tablets. Once the gift-giving season had passed, though, what were people going to do—buy one for themselves? Many tablet and Android enthusiasts, perhaps foreseeing the coming of Google's own tablet, the Nexus 7, stayed away.
Google didn't just create a sleek, snappy, honest-to-goodness Jelly Bean tablet; it also slapped it with the same starting $199 price tag as the chunkier, lackadaisical Kindle Fire. The Nexus 7 came out of the starting gate a better iPad competitor than the Kindle Fire had any hope of being, and the race was over almost before it had even started.
From left: iPad 2, Kindle Fire HD, Nexus 7, iPhone 4S.