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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bring on the Fire, but Be Kindle with me

Just a few years ago, industry experts would have completely ruled out the possibility of there being a market for the tablet computer and other hand held devices such as the E-readers. Yet when we look all around, whether be it on in the tube, or just walking down the street or even campus, people have in their hands a tablet computer or an e-reader which also manages to successfully engage it's respective user. With these 2 respective devices, I think it would be fair to allocate some of the credit to Apple with the iPad for creating the market for Tablet Computers, and to Amazon with it's Kindle for really making people put down the age old tradition of printed literature.

Apple was by means not the first company to develop and launch the Tablet Computer. There were other's who tried before Apple launched its iPad in 2010. Companies such as Acer and Asus had been working with Microsoft to develop a tablet computer but the reception in those early days of tablet computing was some what cold. Then came the Apple iPad, and it managed to create a market for portable tablet computers overnight which was aided by the portability that those products had to offer, but most importantly the simple user friendly functionality of the iPad. Before we knew it, countless manufacturers and companies wanted to join in and become a part of this multi-million dollar market for Tablet Computers. Be it Samsung, Huawei or countless other's, tech firms were geared up in the development and launch of tablet computers. Most of Apple's competitors chose Google's Android operating system for their Tablet Computers. The limitation of these devices though is that they are more meant for content consumption as opposed to content creation.

Amazon was no different as well, they also wanted to be a part of this multi million dollar market. They had already enjoyed reasonable success in portable digital technology through their Amazon Kindle, which remains the largest selling E-reader in the market. After enjoying success with the Kindle, decision makers at Amazon felt that there was room for a low end, low priced internet tablet as most tablets were expensive high end products, at the same time they felt that they could take Apple head on and give them a run for their money.

What Amazon has working for itself is its strong presence in the online market as an E-Retailer or e-tailer as some would like to call it. Amazon has also a significant digital product offering that they sell to their customers in the form of E-Books, digital music and movies downloadable onto Amazon devices. With the launch of the Amazon Kindle Fire, Amazon has managed to integrate its Kindle E Reader with an open source Android based operating system, which has been customized to Amazon's requirments. In a way their product offering is a hybrid between a Kindle E reader and a basic entry level Android tablet, the great thing going for them though is the whole range of digital services available from Amazon that can make having a Kindle Fire a very impressive experience.

What Amazon should realistically do is pro actively compete with Barnes and Noble, as well as other low end Tablet Computers with a similar screen size instead of trying take Apple head on. They should position their Kindle Fire, as an enriching and a more complete Kindle experience which combines the Kindle with the power of the Android Operating system to allow greater flexibility and functionality for end users. By doing this, they would be avoiding alienating the significant user base that they have developed with the Kindle, and they can in the process utilize that same user base by encouraging them to upgrade to the Kindle Fire, for an even more enriching Kindle Experience where they can enjoy countless other services that Amazon has to offer also. Amazon has managed to partially cannibalize it's own market by offering Kindle App's on Apple and Android powered devices, and owners of competitor products might be reluctant to switch unless of course Amazon can come up with that all important differentiation factor to win the minds of its would be consumers.

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