The new Amazon Kindle Fire 7 has got to be near the top of many Christmas shopping lists this year. At least, Amazon must be hoping so. With that keen $50 price, and more-than-adequate hardware, plus the whole Amazon content ecosystem, it must be an obvious first choice for many tablet buyers and gift-givers – especially for first-timers.
And, if you’re a newbie or a kid getting your first tablet, would you ever want to switch platforms and kick your Kindle Fire to the kerb as a limited and too-basic device? Actually, I suspect not, and I suspect Amazon is counting on that too.
Geeks like Yours Truly care enough about open app access and the full Android experience to get hacking and tinker under the hood of the Kindle Fire until it has the Google Play Store and the usual gamut of Google apps. But would your average lay user? Especially a kid who gets their Kindle Fire under the Christmas tree as their first tablet? And won’t an anxious parent who is concerned about a digital device getting into their kids’ hands be reassured by the inclusion of the Amazon Family Library and Amazon FreeTime on the stock device? That’s a far more comforting proposition than the prospect of fiddling with a cheap generic Android tablet for hours to childproof it before it reaches childish hands.
Honestly, I’m just being fussy by hacking my Kindle Fire. I wouldn’t be missing any actual functions if I stuck with the basic Kindle Fire experience and the apps available on the Amazon Appstore. A few favorite services, perhaps – YouTube being one. But we’re talking a very marginal loss of capabilities here. All the basic functionality is on board.
Kids are curious, and love to tinker. That might drive some to look for other options, or trade up to a different device. But I don’t see anything missing from the Kindle Fire that would compel most non-techie users to choose an alternative – especially in that price range. And I see trading up tending in two directions: either the Kindle Fire owner goes for a bigger and better Kindle Fire, like the new Kindle Fire HD 8 or HD 10 – both competitively priced and the former an especially good deal at $149.99. Or they trade up to an iPad, because they bought an iPhone from style and fashion considerations – for the bling, not the bang for the buck.
I’m extremely happy with my Kindle Fire. And I’ll be writing more about that soon. I would have been pretty pleased with it even if I’d never hacked it at all. I am not saying this as some sort of paid Amazon sales pitch, and I’m not patronizing the “average lay user” as some kind of techno-illiterate sucker. I just think that Amazon’s consumer proposition is now so compelling as to potentially lock out almost the entire rest of the tablet market besides Apple. All this plus Kindle Unlimited too? Plus Amazon Underground? Plus optimization for the preferred online shopping destination of nearly half of America’s consumers? For only fifty bucks? Come on …
I don’t see any incentive for average owners to step outside its low-walled garden. That could be a problem for every competing tablet manufacturer, and even, who knows, Apple. But it’s a win for most consumers – and for Amazon.