The original Kindle Fire was pretty strong competition for the iPad and this next generation seems even better positioned and appointed to grab its fair share of the burgeoning market for tablet devices. The different price points and low-to-high end feature set give potential customers a nice palette of choices whereas as with any Apple product, there isn't that much variation between models and price points. Of course, there are many fan-boys and girls that will only consider an Apple product in this or any category. Still, it's pretty amazing to see what Amazon has accomplished as a competitor in this space considering that many other hardware-centric vendors have not been able to make a dent.
This is a strong looking competitor. The trick will be in the advertising. At this point, that is what separates the iPad from the rest. Apple has so much cash that they can afford to keep their brand in the public's eye. When the Motorola Xoom came out the reviewers, most of whom were iPad fans, said that it was the first serious competitor. On the other hand, Motorola was unable to mount the requisite campaign to compete. Amazon, on the other hand, has the resources. Let's see if they will put a serious push on.
It isn't that I have something against Apple besides high prices, but I am glad there are some legitimate competitors. I am looking for a system myself, but the $400 barrier is a bit much for my wife. She likes my toys to be much cheaper.
But, I think I need a bit more than the Fire had to offer. I hope they keep improving and give iPad a run for its money.
It is also sad in many ways to hear from the news this morning that they think the new iPhone will be a big boost to the economy- well, maybe China's economy, but that is where many of our politicians get their money, anyway...
I agree this is a very strong competitor, Beth. I've always been baffled at the loyalty of Apple-or-bust afficionados toward that company's high-priced products, especially when low-cost competitors like this make their way to the market.
The Apple products do have the seamless integration of all items in the App store as well as Itunes which give them a leg up on all competitors. People seem to be willing to pay a little more for the convenience of having the same apps loaded automatically on their ITouch, Ipad, and IPhone every time something is installed.
I hear what you're saying, Chuck, but I have to put myself in the Apple fangirl camp. I've been using Apple products since 1999 when I left the corporate world and a dedicated IT group and I feel like they are worth every penny of their higher price tag. They are easy to use, especially for a techno-phobe like me, there are rarely any problems, you don't have to worry about hacking or breaches as much as you do with Windows. To top it off, the designs are elegant--beautiful really. It's akin to driving the nice car. I am not a gadget girl, but even I get excited bringing home my new laptop every four years or a new phone every three years.
Brand loyalty amazes me at times - there must be some really amazing marketing people in the apple corner. A friend is going to Mexico and is taking online classes so I offered to loan him my Toshiba netbook which is great for internet cafes and is so much more portable than his Mac laptop. He refused and is lugging his big and bulky Mac laptop because in his words, "I am loyal to my brand!" I get that with sports teams but not with utility in technology...
@Nancy: Agreed that Apple has great marketing, but so do a lot of companies and then again, there's a lot of great brands that don't have the same follow-through in terms of blue-chip marketing. I think the bottom line with the devotion to Apple products is the overall user experience when using the technology. It's seamless, it's effortless, and to me, it can't be beat. While many technology products are indeed commodities and thus trapped in the price play, Apple gear provides a wholly different experience and it's not just about feel-good or feel-proud commercials. (That, of course, IMHO)
You know, Beth, you make some really valid points and it makes me want to go out and try Apple products. When I reflect back on my technology choices, I think it amounts to "dancing with the one that brung you" in that I started out with PCs and as a poor student I could never really afford to go with the more expensive stuff. In Dallas we had what was known as the first Saturday sidewalk sale in downtown and we would get up at the crack of dawn to get the best deals. I bought my first 286 motherboard for $75 there and built my own computer. That was just not being done with Mac boards back then so my natural inclination has always been towards PCs. Macs have such a great following and I have always heard how superior they are especially regarding graphics applications but I just never needed that much power in those areas. Also, it just seemed to me that back in the day there was a lot more software being coded for PCs. Of course all of that has changed but I am still stuck in that old mindset...or at least my pocketbook is. I completely agree with you and have always been a fan of paying more for a quality product but I am also a fan of simplicity and have just not needed to make any changes - I still prefer the feel of a real book in my hands rather than an E-book. Maybe when this lap top dies I'll take another look...
@Nancy: Nancy, you raise some valid points as well about pricing and particularly about the software available for the Mac. In earlier days, there was a lack of real business software for the Mac, especially as it pertains to serious engineering tools--CAD and CAE, for example. I think some of that has changed--there are versions of Autodesk tools for the Mac and obviously the slew of new design tool apps are optimized for Apple's iOS mobile platform. Yet there isn't the same deep pool of tried and true engineering software for the Apple platform so that would definitely be a game changer for using the Mac as a professional engineering workstation, despite its killer graphics capabilities. Still, I'd cajole you into taking a new model for a test drive when it's time to buy your next computer!
The more I think about it Beth, the more intrigued I am by such brand loyalty to Apple - I will definitely give one a test drive when it's time to make another technology purchase. My boys are always bragging on the Macs they get to use in their media arts classes at school.
Allan, 4G connectivity with 32 GB storage and 250 MB data per month for $50 is amazing. But what would be the price of Fire HD, if it starts something within $199, it's a revolutionary movement from Amazon, which may force Apple and other competitors to slash their pricing policy and to offer bundle of packages along with their Tablet.
My wife has an iPad and I have an Android tablet. Side by side the Apple looks sleeker, and has a much better display. Without question, the Apple packaging and appearance is superior to anything else on the market, but that is where Apple has always put most of their engineering effort. I'm tempted to bash the Apple for all the problems we've had with the tablet, but I know that there are followers so loyal that their allegiance borders on religion. We found that the Android tablet is far easier to use and much less restrictive when adding new software or features. All and all, the Android was less quirky, with fewer, "what the heck is it doing?", and "how do I do this?"
The new tablets are great, but I really miss my little Toshiba Pocket PC. The size, power, and feature set was really perfect. I wish that platform had been expanded.
Tekochip, if you are comparing the price also Apple is superior. For Apple, the user has only limited choices in selection, but if we are opting for any Android based tablets, the choices are wide open from different companies with different features and functionalities. The prices are also too less and in most of the cases, that’s too half of an IPad.
The company has a loyal following and when you have that level of devotion the consumers diminish the disadvantages and magnify the advantages. As an example; I watched my sister, a very loyal Apple fan, spend over an hour reloading the Operating System back into her phone because she needed the latest version. A feature had stopped working when Apple upgraded iTunes, and now she couldn't access features that were in the cloud.
My son had an iPod and eventually switched to a Creative device because of all issues with iTunes and syncing. My son has a very extensive music library of around 60Meg, and the constant library corruption was costing him hours of use in re-syncing with iTunes. In contrast, Creative has a simple drag and drop interface which doesn't require the cloud to listen to a CD that you already own, and the library never became corrupted.
Certainly, another issue is iTunes itself. Everything runs through iTunes, even if you don't want to download music you MUST have an iTunes or Apple Store account to run the device. I find this Big Brother philosophy rather ironic since Apple was famous for their 1984 commercial depicting a group of cult followers mindlessly following a leader until someone shatters the video image with a hammer. Apple tells people in their advertising that owning an Apple product expounds creativity and personal freedom, but the truth is that owning an Apple product forces the user to register every aspect of product use through Apple's corporation.
Apple is much like religion and politics, so I really don't intend to sound harsh or injure the party loyal. As an Engineer, an Apple product is just a black box and there are very many black boxes to chose from.
Allan--excellent post. I have a Kindle Fire (not HD version) and love it. I was very skeptical in the beginning but after one day of taking it through all the paces I realized it was a very usable and desirable device. The only issue I have is the ability of the Wi-Fi to pick up when I'm receiving only 2 "bars". I think the HD version will solve that problem. (The other problem I have is getting it away from my grandchildren.) Again, excellent post.
A slew of announcements about new materials and design concepts for transportation have come out of several trade shows focusing on plastics, aircraft interiors, heavy trucks, and automotive engineering. A few more announcements have come independent of any trade shows, maybe just because it's spring.
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
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