We’re approaching the age in technology where hardware quality is becoming less important. It’s user experience that matters more and more these days. Apple has the user experience figured out – mostly – and everyone knows that. Android is still a couple of steps behind, not the least because the transition from phone OS to tablet OS has been going less than smooth.
Hardware-wise though, some Android phones and tablets can already compete with the iPad. OS-wise, Android is slowly getting there. But even if those two are up to scratch, Android still doesn’t have the powerful connection that Apple can offer thanks to the iTunes Store.
It’s as simple as this… While pirating movies, shows and music may exist for the forseeable future, this isn’t ideal for the mainstream. Not everyone feels comfortable downloading from dodgy websites and servers. Most people are willing to pay for a legal alternative, if the price is right and it’s easier to use than searching Usenet for a less legal version of the film you want to watch. This is not new information but it’s more than relevant now that Amazon is doing to more modern entertainment what it has been doing to books for the past years. Making it easier than ever to get more.
The Kindle Fire is the first Android tablet that has a strong integration with a media library comparable to that of the iPad: The Amazon Store.
That doesn’t mean that the iPad will die out in the next year. But for 200 dollar, loyal Amazon customers can buy anything in stock on Amazon via their Kindle Fire. Whether you want to watch a film via Amazon Prime (for an additional fee of 80 dollar per year) or buy a new chair: you can do so via your Kindle Fire. Happy Amazon customers that want to buy a tablet can either fork out 400 dollar for an iPad, or 200 for an Amazon tablet that allows them to use their Amazon Prime feature and get more things as you go.
Strip all those Amazon features and you’re left with a not so state of the art tablet, but that’s not the point. Even if the iPad is faster, lighter or bigger: the Amazon integration is ideal for people who don’t want to play by Apple’s rules. The Kindle Prime is redefining the tablet for its own purposes. The tablet according to Amazon is not just a general entertainment device, it’s a cleverly branded entertainment device. And yes, some other tablets may offer movie rentals (like HTC’s tablets), but they don’t have Amazon’s brand recognition or catalogue size.
If tablets are destined to go truly mainstream, they need to offer features that are wanted by the mainstream in a way the mainstream can easily understand. Apple has always understood that with the iPad. Compare it with a car… Some people get excited about the engine, the price tag and the colour, but most people just want to be assured it works and will get them from A to B, even if B is only reachable via Mountain C, frosty road D and traffic jam E. They don’t care about horse power, as long as they’re not being screwed by their car dealer.
Amazon understands this too. Amazon is not selling the Kindle Fire based on its amazing hardware (*the hardware is not that amazing, really, but it’s good enough to do what it’s supposed to do). Amazon is selling their Kindle Fire based on what you can do with it. Thus, the content war has begun. If this model works – and the previous Kindles have proven it does – other manufacturers will need to start making deals with content providers… So Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Google… Who else is going to enter the war zone?