Amazon Fire - will expectations go up in flames?by Henry Taylor
at University of Southampton 28th September 2011 14:29:04
On my way to work this morning I was listening to radio 5 live, specifically to Rachel Burden interviewing technology expert Tom Cheesewright about Amazon’s new kindle – the ‘Fire’ – which is being announced this afternoon at a press conference in New York.
The Fire is expected to have a 7-inch colour screen, an easy-to-use operating system, and will be designed around media consumption of videos and magazines as well as books. All for an iPad 2-busting price of $250/$300 (£160/£190).
Although Tom undoubtedly knows his stuff, I was a little bothered none of the criticisms I had read on the upcoming gadget were mentioned, especially in the wake of so many people billing the Fire as an iPad 2 killer (it won’t be).
According to Ryan Block of Computerworld.com, Amazon outsourced the Fire’s hardware design to original design manufacturer Quanta in a rush to get a tablet to market. Quanta were responsible for producing RIM’s (relatively unsuccessful) PlayBook, the template of which was used to produce the Fire’s hardware in a time-saving shortcut. The result of this is supposedly a slower processor than Amazon had originally wanted.
Perhaps as a result of this slower CPU, the Fire is rumoured to be running an Android-based operating system that may be as old as Android 2.1. Apparently Amazon has heavily tweaked the OS and as a result it is unrecognisable from an Android experience, but some people are questioning whether a system based on 2.1 will be powerful enough to run most Android apps – which require 2.2 or 2.3 as a minimum (current version is 3.2).
Because of Amazon dropping (Google-owned) Android’s interface, they are supposedly also dropping integration with Google services, presumably such as maps, gmail, calendar, docs, reader, alerts, etc. While Amazon are coming up with their own alternatives – it is unlikely they’ll rival the professionalism of Google’s offerings and manage to tempt consumers away from their Google-facilitated lives.
Along with a lack of 3G, meaning owners will be forced to access content over WiFi only, the Fire isn't adding up to be the iPad-2-slaying beast some experts are purporting it to be.
There are also rumours aplenty that the Fire is simply a stopgap until the Fire 2 is released in 2012, which will be Amazon’s main baby. Consumers aren’t stupid. They know when a product has been rushed to market and they will hold out for something more special, which is why the Fire won’t be making any serious waves.
If anyone can kill the iPad 2’s dominance over the tablet market, it’s Amazon.
But this Fire will burn out very quickly.