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Android Handhelds Hardware

Kindle Fire Grabs Over Half of the U.S. Android Tablet Market 134

New submitter DillyTonto writes "Amazon got shelled by analysts and the press after releasing a buggy first iteration of the Fire edition of the Kindle e-reader. Three weeks later the Kindle Fire owned 14 percent of the whole market for tablets. Three months later, more than half of all Android tablets sold in the U.S. are seven-inch Kindle Fires, despite a huge bias among buyers for 10-inch tablets. How could a heavily modded e-reader beat full-size tablets by major PC vendors? It's cheaper than any other tablet or e-reader on the market, for one thing. Also important is its focus on being an e-reader, 'because people buy hardware to have access to one app or function, then take the other things it can do as an additional benefit.'"
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Kindle Fire Grabs Over Half of the U.S. Android Tablet Market

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  • Better Marketing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pavon ( 30274 ) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @04:08PM (#39833361)

    I think that better marketing, and tie-in to the Amazon eBook store also played huge factors. Otherwise the Nook Color would have dominated long ago, as it has all the same benefits they tout about the Kindle Fire, but released much earlier and was a more polished product at the time of the Kindle Fire release.

    • by Gideon Wells ( 1412675 ) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @04:16PM (#39833399)

      Not sure if marketing or just cultural perceptions. While it isn't so much now, MP3 players were effectively generically iPods for a while. EReaders (I need to look up how to handle eReader words at the beginning of sentences. That just looks weird) are to many Kindle. For some a tablet is an iPad. Until the iPhone came out it wasn't a smartphone, but a Black Berry.

      This was the first color Kindle that was a Kindle. As the summary stated, people are likely buying an eReader instead of a tablet. I know people who are afraid to even sit down at a computer because it is a scary computer (they still exist) who see the Kindle Fire as a fancier and neat book.

      • by TechnicalExpert ( 2628135 ) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @04:19PM (#39833409)
        There's also the most insightful reason:

        Because Android market share on tablets is so small compared to iPad. This makes "android tablet market share" (wtf?) easy to capture to begin with. If people are too poor to get an iPad but want a tablet, they will get the cheapest they can. With Amazon's subsidization (their business model is to make money by selling ebooks, not devices), they are able to sell their device at the lowest price point.

        Basically, news about nothing.
        • by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @06:34PM (#39833941) Homepage Journal

          Right. The market share so tiny that a tablet can grow from 14% of the total tablet market to 50% of the Android tablet market, which implies at least 28% of the tablet market belongs to Android (this from the fucking summary posted above). You technical experts are pretty fucking dumb.

        • Re:Better Marketing (Score:5, Informative)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Saturday April 28, 2012 @08:13PM (#39834359) Homepage Journal

          If people are too poor to get an iPad but want a tablet, they will get the cheapest they can. [...] Basically, news about nothing.

          You know, that would be insightful or interesting or something if you weren't completely wrong. There were and are cheaper android tablets and yet the Fire is still the hero of the day.

          • It's from a brand that most people have heard of, and it also has an IPS screen. Can other tablets match that at the price point?

            • Yes, you can get them for around $100 in volume.

              Latest Ainol Novo 7 Aurora android 4.0 tablet pc 7" IPS Capacitive screen Camera 1GB DDR3 8GB HDMI

              • I ordered 2 for xmas via aliexpress, total cost with shipping was 230. Nice units, the downside was the MIPS processor doesn't have as many apps. It came with angry birds and a spiderman game that costs $5 for an app store purchase and my nephew and niece love them. Well worth the price for me to be the cool uncle.
            • The Nook tablet fits that and is $50 less.

      • Kindle Fire is mostly here a device to watch YouTube (and some downloaded movies). I think in families with (young) children a Kindle Fire is used more for watching YouTube than reading eBooks (also, we have two Kindle Touch for just that). I like it for that, my wife and I both love cooking, and somehow sitting on a couch together and watching a cooking video on YouTube is way nicer than watching the same movie on a laptop or desktop computer. Also, when cooking, one can keep the Kindle Fire close at hand,

        • I use mynook color to read ebooks and surf the web. However my deeesiire fir a couple apps tatbarnes doesnt approve of means my next device will be a generic andriid tablet. 7" tablet is nice for travel.

          • Yup, the size is great, and I think that the Kindle Fire in general is great, if you're living in the USA, that is. Add a built-in mic, camera, and SD card reader and it's would be fantastic device.
          • I take it the virtuaaal keybod is a biit shiiiity//?

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          So, be warned if you're outside the USA and decide to import one yourself. You might end up paying for what adds up to an iPad. While I hope that Amazon will start selling the Kindle Fire outside of the USA, and hopefully within my 1 year of warranty, I somehow doubt this is going to happen. At least not with the current Kindle Fire. And with rumours of a smaller iPad I wonder if a Kindle Fire 2 is going to be an option for Amazon.

          Unlikely in the near future, because outside the US, the Fire is merely a che

          • Like I wrote up, we use it the most to watch YouTube videos and couch surfing. For reading e-books, we use Kindle Touch. So it's more like an expensive phone that can't make calls ;-).
          • Are you saying that the Kindle Fire has a Nook Books app? That changes my opinion of the device, and would make it viable as a replacement for my Nook.

      • iCaps are weird no matter how you do them... I treat the word as a proper noun, with a stupid lowercase letter that has no place in any grammatical history prepended.

  • I think it's just the right size. I imagine that most of the customers wanted something its size to begin with.
    • by dmbasso ( 1052166 ) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @04:34PM (#39833471)

      I'm still waiting for the one that can display an A4 page without scaling.

      • "I'm still waiting for the one that can display an A4 page without scaling."

        I don't get it. If you don't print it out, why format it to a size that paper sellers invented last millennium?

        • Because it allows you to put what is traditionally a page of material on a - page - while not cranking the font size down to where you have to be 16 years old to read.

          It also handles PDFs from printed pages well. And Lord knows, there are lots and lots of those.

          So yes, it's an ancient and arbitrary size, but so are Imperial units and we seem to have a devil of a time getting rid of those stupid things.

          (The rest of the world can at least ignore that last statement, but us USA!ers have to deal with it.)

          • So yes, it's an ancient and arbitrary size, but so are Imperial units and we seem to have a devil of a time getting rid of those stupid things.

            And SI units are supposed to be what? A meter is 1/10000 of the portion of a meridian running from the north pole to the equator through Paris. Why not 1/15000 of a meridian running through Nantes? A second is a day divided by 86400. Where did that number come from? Sounds arbitrary to me. (The modern definitions of these units are just things that can be more consistently measured, but based on the same arbitrary values of the original units.)

            • by Anonymous Coward

              They're both arbitrary; the point was that you can't get rid of arbitrary things easily, not that there is some non-arbitrary practical unit system. The size of a tablet is also potentially arbitrary, but it's convenient at times to fix them to other arbitrary units.

              There are advantages to the SI system in terms of trivial, or at least more-trivial, unit conversions, but it's not used for reasons of tradition and backwards compatibility, mainly in the US, and in other countries to a lesser extent.

            • 1/10000000, not 1/10000.

              As to why not Nantes, well, the Committee for Public Safety wasn't operating out of Nantes....

              • But the metric system was part of the Thermidorian Reaction.

                • My apologies for using the "Committee for Public Safety" as a rude commentary about the French Revolution as a whole.

                  Nonetheless, Paris was the center of French government then (both before and after the Committee for Public Safety), and the metric system came about as an act of the French government during the Revolution.

                  If the Metric system had come out of the UK, it would have used London as its referent. If it had come out of Germany (if Germany had even been a nation then), they'd have used Berlin..

        • Because PDFs are formatted to be printed on paper.
          It is possible to read PDFs on a tablet, but either you have to scroll around or everything is small. If the tablet were the same size as the paper, then things would be easier to read.
        • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
          Perhaps because many non-ebook documents are formatted to either an A4 or US Letter page size and the formatting tends to screw up if you try to change the paper size or re-flow it on the fly like you can easily do with a plain text ebook, assuming it's even possible to do so - ever tried to change the papersize of a PDF and reflow the text? For embedded graphics with text, poor scaling algorithms can often render the text illegible and fine detail (cross hatching for instance) in a diagram doesn't scale a
        • Because of the ubiquity of the PDF format which is more suited for printing than being reflowed on a screen. That's why.

      • by samkass ( 174571 )

        Why specify "without scaling"? Just say "can display A4 such that it's easy to read." the new iPad has a ridiculous number of pixels and even scaled pages look great. Unless you really need a mm to be a mm, it doesn't make a difference. And if you do, your needs are likely too specialized for the market to prioritize.

        • Unless you really need a mm to be a mm, it doesn't make a difference. And if you do, your needs are likely too specialized for the market to prioritize.

          People tend to lose visual acuity as they age, and a lot of people are halfway blind to begin with. If the needs of senior citizens and people with disabilities are "too specialized for the market", what should be done to accommodate such users?

  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @04:14PM (#39833391)
    that being "why would you want to buy a tablet?".
    • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @04:27PM (#39833435)

      They answered the right question, that being "why would you want to buy a tablet?".

      And they delivered at the right price. It seemed that most other tablets were in the price neighborhood of the iPad, so people naturally just got an iPad because of the iPad's perception of having more features and apps. With the Kindle Fire coming in at such a relatively lower price they overcame this perception of the iPad.

      I am an iPad dev [] and when I played with a Kindle Fire at a family Christmas dinner I thought it was a pretty cool device well worth the price, any performance differences or missing apps were more than offset by the price.

      • Curious to know how lacking was the perf., in your opinion?
        • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @05:30PM (#39833717)

          Curious to know how lacking was the perf., in your opinion?

          It was just a subjective impression. The device was a recently unwrapped Christmas present still in a largely stock configuration. I only played with it for about fifteen minutes. My feeling at the time while navigating between the various built-in apps, giving each a quick try, and then navigating a couple of web pages was that it was not as snappy as an iPad 2, but I didn't really care. It was a $200 device not a $500 device and it was clearly "good enough". As an engineer I was impressed at what they managed with such an aggressive price point.

          My cousin, the owner of the device, was quite familiar with the iPad 2, she often used her daughters, and had a similar impression. However she added that she loved the size, it looked far more convenient to carry around during the day to her.

          • Single-core Android devices tend to have laggy UI due to the way their rendering works. I believe that iOS offloads the rendering to the GPU (I know Windows Phone does, but of course it's not available in tablet form-factor) which is much better-suited to such things. Same idea as hardware-accelerated browsers on the PC, except that Apple (and Microsoft) can optimize the code for a few specific chips. Android doesn't have that option, not without re-writing a good chunk fo the OS for each new chipset (somet

            • by marsu_k ( 701360 )
              FYI since ICS most of the UI is hardware accelerated. Having said that, I don't find the performance to be that different than Honeycomb on my TF101.
      • by voss ( 52565 ) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @06:02PM (#39833837)

        Which is why eventually the number of Android tablets will surpass the IPAD, even though Apple will still make
        tons of money at the high end.

        The secret of the Kindle Fire is that for now they have found the sweet spot of android tablets. A high enough price
        not to be junk and a low enough price to compete against Ipad and the Fires secret sauce...the backing of
        who has the customer service and the money and wont cut and run which gives buyers confidence

        Also unlike the other tablet sellers built up gradually from a successful inexpensive e-reader
          instead of just trying to come up with a "Our version of the ipad"


        • In the long run Apple may also be in the middle, not just the high end. If they follow the same pattern that they demonstrated with the iPod and iPhone then when a 4th generation iPad shows up at the $500 price point, the 3rd generation iPad may be offered at $400 and the iPad 2 at $300.

          Of course I am curious as to why the original iPad was simply retired. Perhaps there were cost or performance issues in the long term.
          • Of course I am curious as to why the original iPad was simply retired. Perhaps there were cost or performance issues in the long term.

            Apple wants to be able to tell you that anything as slow as the original iPad or slower is now obsolete to reduce the number of people who will buy them, thus increasing their potential customer base.

            • Not the processor speed, but the iPad 1 is crippled due to having only 256MB RAM. A lot of apps are very crashy, and some new apps aren't supported at all. (But at least the web browser is reasonably stable after the most recent update.) iPad 2 has 512MB and dual-core, but otherwise there's not a huge difference from the first one.

            • Keeping all three alive either leads to stagnating development (look at the specs on the iPad 1, especially the RAM, then look at how much memory is available to apps after the latest iOS update... yeah) or complaining customers who are upset that their "brand new" iPad 1 can't run anything in the store.

              Even without other planned-obsolescence-related motives, retiring it was the right thing to do to keep the app ecosystem healthy. One of the reasons Apple mobile devices are so much nicer to develop for tha

    • I'm using my Xoom quite a lot: during the day next to my PC to check up on RSS feeds and click though if the news looks interesting, at night in bed to watch movies from my home server via UPnP/DLNA; plus my phone company authorizes tethering and I've got a $30, 3GB plan, though I use it a fair bit to brose the web while travelling. For reading, my Galaxy Note in more pleasant since I can use it one-handed and the AMOLED screen is much less tiring.

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      When the refurb Kindle Fire went on sale I bought one as a second tablet. It does provide a level of functionality and infrastructure. On thing I did was cancel Netflix(maybe they support crazy people in the media) and just use Amazon streaming video. I have mostly Kindle book, which I read on many other devices, but of course maybe less easy to read on a sony or nook, but there is an app for android of course.

      The point is, like a PC, Android tablets are going to compete mostly on price. Amazon gives u

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 28, 2012 @04:15PM (#39833397)

    1. The Fire is not a 'heavily modded e-reader'. E-book readers are traditionally e-paper devices, the Fire is an Android tablet with e-reader functionality highlighted in the software. You can make a tablet an e-reader, but the other way around, not so much.

    2. If more than half the Android tablets sold are 7 inch, then there is no bias among buyers for 10 inch tablets in that category. If you're talking about the entire tablet market, then of course it's 10 inch - the iPad still has more than half the tablet market *in units*.

    All that said, the last part is spot on - it's being marketed as an e-reader with extra features (woo, color!), not as a tablet... even thought that's exactly what it is. A lot of people still don't know what they want from a tablet, but they know what they want from an e-reader. If it does more stuff, all the better. If they want a tablet... statistically speaking, they're already buying an iPad.

  • Hmm, maybe the price had a little more to do with it?
    I'm waiting for the google tablet,

  • Screw Kindle Fire. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pecosdave ( 536896 ) *

    If I'm going to limit myself to a 7" tablet I'm going to get the Nook. Same processor, twice the on-board storage, twice the RAM, has an SD slot, just as hackable and can run the Kindle app.

    Cost the same.

  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @04:27PM (#39833439) Homepage Journal

    despite a huge bias among buyers for 10-inch tablets.

    What he really meant was, despite a huge bias among buys for the APPLE IPAD

  • by xigxag ( 167441 ) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @04:30PM (#39833455)

    Fire's list price is $430 lower than the list price of the latest edition of the iPad

    Not $430 lower. $300 lower. (The $629 iPad is the 4G model, the Wi-Fi only model is just $499)

    • Let's compare the devices that are actually somewhat comparable: 2nd gen iPad is $399.

      • 2nd gen iPad is $399

        Plus $99 per year to enable installation of applications from unknown sources, if that's your thing.

        • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

          Plus $99 per year to enable installation of applications from unknown sources, if that's your thing.

          If that was your thing, you probably wouldn't have chose the iPad.

  • by rastoboy29 ( 807168 ) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @04:31PM (#39833457) Homepage
    I'm ridiculously happy with my Le Pan tablet, however, which for $200 is a steal.  Great viewable angle, phenomenal battery life, a good investment for my needs (casual web surfing on my coffee table).
  • My conclusion here is that price is more important than specifications or features. At least in this case perhaps.

  • I have a six year old and a four year old. No way I was getting them a $500 or even $300 device. At $199 the Kindle Fire was perfect. And it is the first thing the eldest asks for on waking and returning home from school...
  • by pbjones ( 315127 ) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @05:21PM (#39833673)

    low price because Amazon was selling at a loss or near loss, they want you to buy media for the Fire. They made an Android tablet that wasn't marketed as an Android tablet, but people hacked it into one, which is something that Amazon will block or the price will rise. Simply put, unmodded, it's average, modded, it's better than other Android tablets.

  • by __aaqvdr516 ( 975138 ) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @05:49PM (#39833789)

    I had purchased a Nook e-ink refurb a few months before I received the Fire as a gift. I tried the Fire for reading for a few months and it became obvious that it was much more tiring on the eyes versus the Nook.

    The rest of the functionality of the Fire was lacking, as you don't have access to Google Play. It was relatively painless to root and flash, so I went to CM9 (ICS) on it. CM9 is missing hardware acceleration, so I flashed CM7 (Gingerbread). It's fairly functional as a normal tablet. There is quite a bit of developer support on xda-developers.

  • The framing here is that the Kindle Fire has more than half of the "Android tablet market," but that's a framing that only makes sense to those who follow technology closely and care heavily about Android. This says less about the strength of the Kindle Fire than it does about the fact that there isn't much of an Android tablet market. There's an iPad market. And there's a market for specialized devices such as the Kindle. But that's about it. The vast majority of Kindle Fire owners wouldn't even think of t
  • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @07:15PM (#39834093) Homepage has the words "DON'T PANIC" inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.

    • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) has the words "DON'T PANIC" inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.

      Come to think of it, this is exactly the device that Mr. Adams was imagining back in 1978.

      • by dzfoo ( 772245 )

        Actually, he was imagining the ChromeBook, if such a device were locked into Wikipedia as its only resource.

        Slightly cheaper, very convenient, but whose content is largely apocryphal.

  • Especially after I got it for the $140 re-furb sale they had a few weeks ago, and threw Ice Cream Sandwich [] on it. Wish it had a camera sometimes, but otherwise I'd definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a cheap tablet.

  • I love my NT, I got a color before the Fire was ever released.

    Many of the Ebooks I have are PDFs from DriveThruRPG, so color was a requirement and the Fire wasn't even an option at the time.

    Now the Fire seemed, and still does seem when comparing it to the NTs & Colors, like an "Oh shit, people want this? We have to slap something together and get it out for the holiday season."

  • How could a heavily modded e-reader beat full-size tablets by major PC vendors?

    Because its marketed as a color reader, priced as a color reader (well below typical tablet prices), from the leading reader vendor, and, oh yeah, the reader market was something like an order of magnitude bigger than the tablet market in number of units being sold, and growing faster than the tablet market, even before the Kindle Fire was released.

    It's cheaper than any other tablet or e-reader on the market, for one thing.


  • To my experience most of the tablets/ebook readers are either limited (for example djvu [] format is usually missing), have a poor display, or are just too heavy to use (the iPad for example has an excellent display, but for me it is too heavy to be used as a book replacement). The Kindle Fire seems to me just a pretty good device, that encompasses all the limitations of other devices. Unfortunately here it is not yet available on the shelves but I want to try it as soon as possible. I only regret it has no we

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