The Apple iPad has easily been the global king of tablets, controlling some three-fourths of the global market. But that's likely to change next month, as Amazon launches its first tablet -- the Kindle Fire.
Speculation has been wide that the Amazon Kindle Fire will be the first real competitor to the Apple iPad, and you will find no disagreement here. That hardly means the Apple iPad is going away -- it's not. And, it will likely remain the global tablet leader for some time.
At this very moment, the Apple iPad is getting a boost, for instance, from the new, highly-anticipated Apple iOS 5 operating system release. With some 200 new features, Apple's iOS 5 free system is seen as a big advance in the battle against Google's Android operating system, which Amazon's Kindle Fire uses.
Amazon's new tablet will be released on November 15, but already sales through online pre-orders have been robust -- perhaps on pace to break the iPad sales launch record for a tablet.
Here are five reasons the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet will be a worthy competitor for the Apple iPad, taking away global market share:
1) It's cheap. This is almost a no-brainer. Amazon will sell its new Kindle Fire below manufacturing costs at launch in order to gain customers in the aim of establishing the product as a keeper. At $199, the Kindle Fire is less than half of what the iPad currently costs -- with a starting price of $500. And in case you haven't heard money is tight in this slow-growth economy, yet many people want to enter the growing tablet realm. Thus, the Kindle Fire is an easy and affordable entry point.
2) Size doesn't always matter. Or maybe it does, but in this case smaller matters most. Apple's iPad is an easy-to-use device, but it's also a big large with a 10-inch screen to carry around. It's too big for a small purse, and a handful to walk around with all day. The Kindle Fire has a 7-inch touchscreen -- and the 30 percent size reduction is a winner. The result is either a small tablet, or a large smartphone without calling capabilities -- however one wants to look at it. Either way, the small size and lighter weight of the Kindle Fire is an advantage (although Amazon is expected to release a larger version early next year.)
3) Amazon's own Android operating system. Apple's iPad may be the world's leading tablet, but Google's Android is the world's leading operating system for mobile devices. Android has tens of millions of devoted fans who don't quite get the Apple craze. Amazon took the Android system and applied some of its own custom touches to yield a one-of-a-kind product.
4) More content. It's not the device, mind you, but what doors the device can open. Sure, the device needs to work just right, but it's so much more than that. That's why Amazon is selling its Kindle Fire tablet below manufacturing costs at launch -- it wants new customers for its extensive content, including streaming movies, ebooks, and more. Amazon is the global leader in digital books, and through its annual Prime membership, users can get a large streaming video library. Amazon has also made many unique deals with publishers recently for the Kindle Fire launch. For instance, users will get many DC Comics ebooks that aren't available anywhere else.
5) The Amazon App Store. The Amazon App store is to Android what the Apple App Store is to its OS users. For those who want the Android system over Apple's products or operating system, it's the best of of Android apps because Amazon helps users cut through the clutter of so many Android apps that are available in the open market. Amazon, as one industry observer says, does a good job of culling the maze of so many Android apps for its store so that users can more easily find and use the best.
As for determining the winner, that's really up to the buyer or user in the end. Those who love Apple products will pay more for the iPad. Those who want an alternative now have a good, and affordable one. The Apple iPad is the leader, and all expectations are that it will remain that way into the foreseeable future. But the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet will make sure that the Apple iPad doesn't run away with the global tablet game.