Kindling the Tablet Fire
Before you purchase a tablet, what goes through your consideration? Does the hardware matter, and which particular hardware is your highest priority?
Let's start with the camera, and ask yourself this question: what's the best imaging resolution? My answer would be a resounding zero. Honestly, if you had a smartphone and a tablet handy, which device would you whip out to take a quick snapshot? Chances are, you'll find it easier to dig into your pocket and grab your smartphone. The tablet, is probably packed deep within your bag, and by the time you get it out and start your camera app, the moment is lost.
To me, a tablet is a complementary device for your smartphone. And that's where you'll have to ask yourself another question: do you need 3G connectivity on your tablet? That's a feature that you'll hardly use, if your tablet's main function is to be an e-book reader, movie player or even a gaming machine. If you do need to visit the web, you can always turn to your trusty smartphone (running on Google Android or Apple iOS) to create a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.
And that, is the beauty of the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet. It's a no-frills tablet, giving me the basics I need, leaving the unnecessary elements behind. Where other manufacturers try to outdo each other with a better camera, a larger screen and more features to bolster its unique selling points, the Kindle Fire adopts the right strategy: keeping things simple. It's a 7-inch tablet with a dual-core processor to smoothen your user experience, with a compact form factor weighing in at 414g for e-book reading, watching a movie and doing basic web surfing.
And all that, for just US$199. The logic is so simple, yet it eludes many manufacturers - it's not the features, but the price, that really matters to consumers.
In a market flooded with tablets, Amazon understands where it stands, and what needs to be utilized to keep itself in the game. Its services, such as Amazon Prime, gives consumers the freedom to watch unlimited movies from their library, with a 30-day trial on the Kindle Fire with the option to continue the service at an affordable cost of US$79/year
Can other companies replicate the strategy Amazon is taking? It's a tall order. While companies strive to achieve a higher profit margin from the one-off purchase of its tablet, Amazon has its service subscription to soften the lower profit margin from its Kindle Fire.
While there are options to customize tablets that will come close to the price point of the Amazon Kindle Fire, it's not just the hardware, but the overall ecosystem that will seal the deal. Amazon's strong suite of e-books and movies, is one example that's hard to follow.
Sadly, the Amazon Kindle Fire is only available in the United States. So if you wish to get your hands on one, it's time to call in some favors from friends who are staying in or traveling to the U.S. of A.
Seow Tein Hee / Former Associate Editor
Attuned to the latest mobile technology and news, Tein Hee is always on the lookout for innovation and creativity in the mobile industry.