Not many of us here in Singapore know what an Amazon Kindle Fire is, but in the US, the device is currently the number one Android tablet. According to Ars Technica, it holds around 52% of US Android tablet market share, way more than the 15% that Samsung's Galaxy Tab family holds.
The success of the Amazon Kindle Fire is due to increased demand for low-cost iPad alternatives -- a role which the Kindle Fire plays well thanks to its artificially low price. Amazon can afford to lower hardware prices because it can make the difference back multiple times via content sales.
However, the popularity of the Kindle Fire also exacerbates some of the issues that Android is facing in general. The software that the Kindle Fire is running is an Amazon tweaked variant of Google's Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), and represents a major fork in the Android mobile operating system.
That's because Amazon does more than just the usual simple (and annoying) aesthetic tweaks that phone manufacturers apply to differentiate their products. Add Amazon's robust content and application ecosystem to that, and Google's Android woes are amplified.
That's because developers would be wooed to develop apps for Amazon's Android variant, which currently does not use Android 4.0 (Ice-Cream Sandwich) APIs. It's not clear if Amazon will update their Android variant to make use of the new features found in the latest Android version.
For now, it seems as though Android tablet application development will continue to march along to Amazon's Android tune, rather than Google's. To counter the Kindle Fire effect, Google is rumored to be developing their own low cost Nexus Android tablet, as well as introducing new additions and changes to buff up their own ecosystem.
It’s worth noting that other major Android manufacturers are starting to enter the budget tablet market. Samsung recently launched the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, a seven-inch tablet that retails for $250. The device, which comes with Ice Cream Sandwich and Google’s application store, compares favorably with the Kindle Fire. Although it’s not quite as cheap, it has slightly more RAM and some of the performance and technical advantages of ICS. Such products could help Google keep its own flavor of Android competitive on tablets.
Source: Ars Technica