As I traveled through the Net today, I found a lot of posts along the lines of how the new Kindle Fire isn’t an iPad killer, or that Apple had nothing to fear from the new Kindle, or that the Kindle Fire was a poor comparison to the iPad.
I kept wondering what in the hell they were talking about. Folks, here’s a news flash for some of you, at this point in time, Amazon couldn’t care less about the iPad. The Kindle Fire is not there to compete with the iPad and it’s certainly not there to kill the iPad.
It’s there to kill the Nook and the Nook Color.
When the annoucements were made and prices defined and the hardware displayed, you could hear executives at Barnes & Noble weeping and rending their garments. The Nook Color has long been an overpriced piece of hardware but it enjoyed some things that no other big name eReader on the market had – an advanced operating system along with a touch interface and a beautiful colour screen. Only the iPad (which was almost twice the price of a Nook Color) had anything similar. Still at $250, it was one of the most expensive eReaders on the market. And if you wanted that touch interface, but didn’t want to spend as much, you could spring for the Nook Simple Touch, an eInk device with a touch screen.
As far as a tablet device goes, the Nook Color suffers from the lack of a decent app store. If you’re going to sell a “tablet reader” running on Android, you should have some decent apps to back it up. B&N utterly failed at this.
The writing has been on the wall for a long time. People like me, who lug around an Android phone everywhere they go, have watched Amazon create a cloud based music service for Android. Then they created a curated app store for Android where you could buy apps that had, at the very least, passed some quality control standards. Then they created a cloud based version of their Kindle reader service. Every time you turned around, Amazon had something new for Android. Hmmm… I wonder why?
Yet B&N sat on their Nook Color, barely updating it. Indeed, most of the time they just left it alone and made few improvements.
Then today the bomb dropped, and it started a Fire. (See what I did there?)
Amazon enters the market with a superior device, better support, and a better content ecosystem. They’re going to charge $50 less than the Nook Color. And, as a final kick in the crotch, they launch three new eInk Kindles, one of which has a touch screen and sells for $40 less than the Nook Simple Touch.
Where’s the iPad figure into all of this? Well, that’s simple. It doesn’t.
In many ways, Amazon already won on the iPad. I may not be a typical person, but for everyone I know who owns an iPad, they’ve all installed the Kindle app. Indeed, for many of them it was one of the first apps they installed. Then, when Apple turned around and demanded a piece of all sales done through in-app purposes, Amazon didn’t even blink. They created the Kindle Cloud Reader and things continued along in greased grooves.
Now, this isn’t to say that Amazon isn’t ever going to go after the iPad. All I’m saying is that the iPad isn’t, and never was, the competitive target for the Kindle Fire. Right now, Amazon has their sites set squarely on Barnes & Noble. They’re going to do everything they can to out perform, out price, and thus outsell the Nook.
And it looks like they have.
Today, B&N stock prices were down as much as 13%, with some recovery by closing time. Word around some of the tech news sites is that B&N is already cutting $25 off the price of the Nook Color and offering free shipping to get you one of these neat-o little tablets before the Fire makes it almost completely obsolete.
Look, folks. Stop comparing the Kindle Fire to the iPad. This makes as much sense as comparing an iPhone to a Windows notebook computer. They’re two completely different things designed to do different things. Given the severe beating B&N took today, we can all see who Amazon has their eye on, and it isn’t Cupertino… for now.