Our Kindle Fire impressions and why Amazon is destined to dominate


I saw the Kindle Fire in action yesterday at Amazon’s big product announcement in New York. I didn’t get to hold it, but I like what I saw at the different demo stations. Today, I’ve been reading articles around the web. Some claim it lacks flexibility, while others applaud its focus; some claim it’s no “iPad killer,” but think it will be a good wing man to Apple’s famed tablet. I believe it’s in a category all its own. The Kindle category.

It’s not an iPad, it’s a Kindle

Much like the original Kindle was designed expressly for reading books, the Kindle Fire is designed expressly to consume other types of media (and a few books too, if that’s what you’re into). Much like the Kindle leveraged Amazon’s extensive e-book catalog to sell books, the Kindle Fire is for those who want a simple device that will let them purchase and enjoy colorful things like magazines, music, video, websites, and some games and apps as well, all of which are sold by Amazon. If you want to read a book or document, you can do that too, much like you can try to browse the Web on the original Kindle. It’s not necessarily designed for reading books, but Amazon is generous with its services.

All of this is spelled out incredibly clearly. Unlike a traditional Android tablet, the Kindle Fire has a homescreen that’s designed like a bookshelf with a coverflow interface. You can line up your favorite apps or media on the shelves and flip between the last few things you’ve done, but the main options of the Kindle Fire are always front and center. You can click on “Newsstand, Books, Music, Video, Docs, Apps, or Web. That is what the Kindle Fire does. That’s it. It’s not going to connect to anything Amazon doesn’t sell, and if it does, it won’t be optimal. Much like Apple designed the iPad to work under iTunes and Google (sort of) designs Android devices to run off of its services, Amazon plans to control and deliver almost everything you consume on the Kindle Fire, and it plans to back it all up too. All content on your Fire will be backed up onto your own personal Amazon Cloud Drive. From what we’ve seen, the whole process is relatively seamless. Much like AmazonMP3, you will be able to download whatever movies and content you wish to the device and stream other content as you please.

Amazon’s incredible cloud capabilities extend to its browser as well, which could be the most innovative thing about the device. Much like what Opera has tried to do with its mobile browsers, Amazon is leveraging its extensive cloud of servers and processing power to speed up browsing using its new Silk browser. Instead of just loading everything from a Website, Amazon’s cloud will act as an intermediary, compressing and making web pages more digestible before they’re downloaded to the Kindle Fire. We love the idea and look forward to seeing it in action more.

The fabled iPad killer

There is no such thing as an “iPad killer.” This new Kindle isn’t going to kill the iPad any more than the iPad killed the E-Ink Kindles. These are two different products. This device doesn’t have a camera and it has a screen half the size of the iPad. It’s also less than half the price of Apple’s device. Both will sell well, but they will likely do so independently. Those who are invested in Apple’s iTunes store will likely lean toward an iPad. Those who use Amazon services may lean toward a Kindle Fire, and there will likely be a good portion of households who have both, or maybe something else as well. With tablet sales only starting to rise, this isn’t an and/or situation. Even if the Kindle Fire takes off, Apple’s tablet will likely continue its upward trajectory as well.

Amazon’s Kindle sales have skyrocketed since the debut of the iPad, despite the fact that the iPad came loaded with an iTunes book store. It’s because they’re different and have different audiences. I believe the Kindle Fire is different enough to live outside of the iPad’s shadow as well. The first generation of Android tablets, well, that’s a different story.

Amazon doesn’t care if you buy a Kindle Fire

Don’t buy a Kindle Fire. Buy an iPad instead, or maybe a Motorola Xoom. Amazon doesn’t care because it is employing two simultaneous strategies. It has a hardware division that pumps out products like the Kindle Touch and Fire. Those have done very well, but it is not Apple. When Apple designs software, it’s because it has a vision for a piece of hardware. Amazon does the opposite. At its heart, it is the only big agnostic content company, and that’s why it will be the big winner in the big smartphone and tablet wars.


Google used to be in an agnostic third-party position, but it has put its money behind Android and now must routinely ensure the success of its own smartphone and tablet platform before it can consider supporting its services. Android has become at least as important to Google as the Web. While some of its services can still be used elsewhere, you need an Android device to tap into its real goodies these days. And the company that really hates Android, Microsoft, makes its money by selling operating systems and selling software for those operating systems. Sometimes it makes money by selling Google’s operating systems too, as it turns out.

Why Amazon will lead the big four:

  • Apple sells content and writes software to sell hardware. It is a hardware company.
  • Microsoft sells content and makes hardware to sell software. It is a software company.
  • Google sells or gives away content and software to sell advertisements. It is an ad sales company.
  • Amazon sells or gives away hardware and software to sell content. It is an online retailer — a content company.

Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon all sell large amounts of content on devices of all kinds, but Amazon is the only free agent among them. Sure, it has a few Kindles, but unlike how Apple views things, the Kindle device itself is not the most important product to Amazon: the content is king, and it plans to sell that content on every other platform it possibly can. Its services are available on Windows Phone, iOS, Android, and even webOS, to name a few. Every smartphone platform has a Kindle book reading app. You can read your Kindle books from almost any device or computer. The same goes for AmazonMP3 and Amazon’s Instant Video services. They are being embedded in more TVs and smartphones every day.

Amazon is a store. It wants you to buy things from it. Despite their dedication to selling things, Microsoft, Google, and Apple are tied to their own OS market shares. Amazon is free to do whatever it wants. Today, it wants to package its store as a tablet and sell that tablet for a market-leading low price. Tomorrow, who knows.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Smart Home

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Common Kindle Fire problems, and how to fix them

Is your Amazon tablet giving you grief? Is it refusing to behave the way you expect? Take a deep breath -- everything will be fine. Here are some widely reported Kindle Fire problems and a few possible solutions to go with them.

Amazon’s new trade-in and recycling programs gives your gizmos a ‘second chance’

Amazon is generating a new level of sustainability into its platform with Amazon Second Chance, a new portal that encourages consumers to trade in and recycle their old electronic devices.

Save up to $850 with the best smartphone deals for November 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $850.

How does fast charging work? Here’s every single standard compared

Modern smartphones can charge in mere minutes instead of hours. How does fast charging work? Here's a guide to the most popular standards, including Qualcomm Quick Charge, Apple fast charging, OnePlus Dash Charge, and more.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 display could be bigger than the iPhone XS Max screen

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was only released a few months ago, but Samsung is already working on a follow-up. Not much is known about the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 just yet, but we do have a few details.

Keep your phone organized with one of the best file managers for Android

Your smartphone has a limited amount of storage space and all sorts of files tend to accumulate if you let them. To keep things in order and find what you need, you should snag one of the best file managers for Android.

Upcoming Honor View 20 may forgo the notch for new display technology

Nearly a year after Honor released the spectacular Honor View 10, the Chinese smartphone giant appears to be hard at work on its successor, the Honor View 20. Here's everything we know about the upcoming midrange powerhouse.

Selfie-mad Meitu phones are now made by Xiaomi, may be sold globally

Meitu, a Chinese brand best known for its selfie and beautification software, has handed over its smartphone business to Xiaomi. The company now has the global license to produce phones using the Meitu name.

Huawei's folding smartphone reportedly will launch at MWC 2019

Huawei will release a folding smartphone with 5G connectivity in 2019, according to the CEO and executives for the company. Rumors are also spreading to take away some of the mystery surrounding the exciting device.

Keep your Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus free of smudges with a screen protector

The display on Samsung's Galaxy S8 is gorgeous, but it's not exactly rugged. Thankfully, these screen protectors will help you safeguard your new device from unwanted wear and tear.

5G version of upcoming Galaxy S10 may feature 6.7-inch display, six cameras

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.

Photos attributed to midrange Google Pixel Sargo suggest flagship-quality camera

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a third. A budget Pixel 3 that boasts some of the best features of the other two has been leaked.