In the past few days, the rumors of Google making and selling their own tablet have gained steam. The rumors also point to a Kindle Fire-like price point of $199. The instant reaction is to look at Google’s earlier attempt to sell hardware directly to consumers, the Nexus One phone. We know it was a failed experiment which Google acknowledged, by shutting down the operations.
Nexus tablet, on the other hand, is a completely different story. I have firmly believed that tablets should not be sold by the carriers. Yes, there are some options with tablets where you can get cellular broadband service, but first and foremost, a tablet should be sold like a PC. I mean, a computer store or a consumer electronics store. Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics and the like. The carriers can also hop in and sell the 3G/4G versions of the tablets like they tried selling the 3G-enabled netbooks. So, taking the sales point away from the carrier stores is a good sign. Compare this with the phone where, at least in the US, it is extremely hard to sell a phone without subsidies. Nokia tried it long time ago and failed. Even Apple briefly tried the unsubsidized route but realized people are much more sensitive to upfront price than you would think. Given that the sale of the phone is tied so much to a carrier, it does not make much sense to conduct the sale away from the carrier. Apple is clearly an exception here, like in many business processes today.
Secondly, the price. If the rumors are true and the tablet is in fact around $199, it will be a huge win. A stock Android tablet with no “skins” installed, for $199 could be an interesting device. Kindle Fire has its ecosystem to rely upon but out of the box, it does limit which Android apps can run on the device. If a Nexus tablet can run all Android apps, and additionally support Amazon media consumption (either via Amazon apps like Kindle app or via the browser for Amazon Video), it becomes a superset of the Fire, for the same price as the Fire. Yes, the current Android tablets already do all of that, I understand. However, none of them have gained any traction yet, and if Google can get behind the marketing and sales, and create a Nexus phone-style clean and crisp user experience, I think users may get interested.
In fact, if this strategy does not work, you can presumably call it the end of the road for Android tablets.
Amazon launched the Kindle Fire to enter the booming tablet space in late 2011. The Kindle Fire has been a huge hit, selling millions of units, and is probably the most popular tablet after the Apple iPad.
According to a new report by a Taiwanese daily, Amazon may be planning to launch three new variants of the Kindle Fire in 2012. With the three new Kindle Fire models, it will target different segments of the market.
1. 7 inch Kindle Fire (1024 x 600 pixels)
2. 7 inch Kindle Fire (1280 x 800 pixels)
3. 8.9 inch Kindle Fire (1920 x 1200 pixels)
All three variants will likely have different hardware configurations as well. The low end 7 inch model will likely be priced at $199 and compete with cheap Android tablets, while the high end 8.9 inch one will compete with the iPad and premium Android tablets. All three variants will be assembled by Taiwanese manufacturers like Quanta.
Amazon will have to roll out a better budget tablet soon, if it wants to compete with the rumored Google Nexus tablet, which will supposedly be priced in the same range. It will likely price all these tablets as low as it can, and just barely break even, while making money by selling content on the tablets, like it always has.
If you were wondering how much the launch of the Amazon Kindle Fire impacted Apple’s dominance in the tablet market, IDC has the answer for you. According to its figures, Apple’s tablet market share dropped to 54.7% in the fourth quarter of 2011, which is much lower than it ws in the previous quarter. Apple’s market share dropped from 61.5% to 54.7%, while Android saw its market share rise from 32.3% to 44.6%.
A total of 28.2 million tablets were shipped globally in Q4 2011, of which 4.7 million were Kindle Fire units, and 15.4 million were iPads. After Apple and Amazon came Samsung, which shipped around 1.6 million units.
However, shipment figures don’t really tell you the complete story. Apple has the highest profit margins in the industry, and probably made more profit by selling one iPad, than Amazon made by selling 20 Kindle Fire units.
Besides, we expect the tide to turn back in Apple’s favor in the first half of 2012, as Apple starts shipping “The New iPad”. In Q3 2012, we should also see Microsoft start to make headway in the tablet market with Windows 8. Google’s rumored Nexus tablet could also help Android gain some additional market share. 2012 is going to be a crucial year for all players in the tablet market. My money, however, is on Apple… and maybe even Microsoft.
It was revealed last month that Google was working on a new Nexus tablet powered by Android, which would be of the highest quality, according to a statement by Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google.
Despite being launched more than a year ago, Google hasn’t yet managed to gain much market share in the tablet space like it did in the smartphone market. Apple’s iPad still remains the best tablet money can buy, and dominates the tablet market by a wide margin.
Almost all the Android tablets released to date have been relative flops compared to the iPad. This is precisely why Google may have decided to take matters in its own hands, and show its device partners how it’s done. Until now, speculation has been that Google planned to target the Apple iPad with its Nexus tablet.
However, a new report by Digitimes suggests that Google may actually be going after the Amazon Kindle Fire – the most popular Android tablet by sales – with its Nexus tablet. Apparently, Google is working on a budget Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich tablet priced below $200, to take on the Kindle Fire.
If Google does manage to create a good device at this price point, it should be able to grab market share from Apple quite easily. However, it will also alienate its own device partners, who will have to drop prices too, and still may not be able to compete with Google itself.
Google may also launch two tablets – a budget one to compete with the Kindle Fire, and a high-end one to take on the iPad.
The Kindle Fire from Amazon runs on a forked version of Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and comes with Amazon’s own AppStore instead of Android Market. However, it was just a matter of time before developers gain root access and start porting stock Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich to the device. The developers managed to get root access pretty easily, and have even managed to get a CM7 build to work on the Fire in such a short time.
Now, just a couple of weeks after the Ice Cream Sandwich code went public, some developers over at XDA have managed to put together an Alpha build of Ice Cream Sandwich for the Fire.
Since this is a pre-alpha build, there are some issues including some video playback glitches, no landscape support in the launcher (which can be easily fixed) and some minor audio glitches. However, the developers released this pre-alpha as a Christmas present for the Fire owners, so they cannot really complain much. Interested Kindle Fire users can find the required files and steps over at XDA forums.
IDC just released its report on the state of the tablet industry in Q3 2011. Worldwide tablet shipments grew nearly 24% in the last quarter with around 18.1 million tablets shipped in that period. IDC expects the growth in tablet shipments to continue going forward, and expects the total shipments in 2011 to reach 63.3 million units.
Apple’s iPad continues to rule the tablet market, and accounted for nearly 61.5% of all tablets shipped with sales of around 11.1 million units. However, it is slowly losing market share due to the growing popularity of cheap Android tablets. It is expected to lose more market share in Q4 2011, primarily due to the spectacular sales of the Amazon Kindle Fire.
HP’s TouchPad fire sale gave it a 5% share of all tablet shipments in Q3 2011, and the third position after Apple and Samsung, which came second with a 5.6% market share. Barnes and Noble came fourth, with a 4.5% market share, thanks to continuing sales of the Nook Color.
Android tablets accounted for 32.4% of all tablet shipments in Q3 2011, but are expected to capture more than 40.3% market share in Q4 2011, thanks to the Amazon Kindle Fire. Even the launch of the Nook Tablet and other cheap Android tablets should help its market share in the coming years.
Barnes & Noble had a surprise hit on its hands last year, when it launched the Nook Color ebook reader. No one knew it would become as popular as it did. It was probably the most popular tablet of 2010, after the Apple iPad.
Anyway, seeing the success of the Nook Color, and the potential of an inexpensive tablet, Amazon got into the game last month, with the Kindle Fire. It is expected to be the most popular Android tablet this year, in terms of sales.
Barnes & Noble have also announced the Nook Tablet, which is an upgraded version of the Nook Color with much better specifications. Presumably, it should become a hit too, as it is much better than the Nook Color, almost equal to the Kindle Fire, and half the price of the iPad 2.
According to a report by Digitimes, our favorite source for Taiwanese supplier intel, Barnes & Noble has already ordered and taken delivery of more than a million units of the Nook Tablet. While that’s much less than the estimated sales of the Amazon Kindle Fire, it’s still much more than most other tablets out there. B&N had originally ordered 800,000 tablets, but anticipating increased demand, they upped their order by 25%.
Now obviously, these are just orders, not actual sales, but these numbers do help us arrive at a ballpark estimate of what the sales numbers should look like.
The Amazon Kindle Fire, which was launched earlier this quarter, has been huge hit. It is expected to sell tens of millions of units in 2012, with its sales second only to the iPad. Unlike Apple, Amazon is taking a loss on each sale though, but hopes to make money on content.
Anyways, my point is that the Amazon Kindle Fire is the best possible tablet you can get in $200, at least when it comes to the hardware. It comes with a heavily modified version of Android, which has been pretty much locked down by Amazon to run only its authorized software. There’s the Amazon App Store, of course, but it isn’t as good as the Android Market.
Ever since Amazon launched the Kindle Fire, I have been wondering how quickly the CyanogenMod community would come out with a ROM for it. CyanogenMod 7 on the Kindle Fire would be the perfect combination; I have used it on my Nook Color, and I’ve been really impressed.
Today, JackpotCalvin from XDA posted that he has managed to get a build of CyanogenMod 7 to run on the Kindle Fire. There are still a few bugs, but they should be ironed out soon. We can expect to see a working CM7 build for the Kindle Fire soon. Here is a link to the thread – [ROM] CyanogenMod 7 for the Kindle Fire
Development of a CyanogenMod 9 ROM (Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich) for the Amazon Kindle Fire is also underway. I’m drooling already.
Amazon has started rolling out a new software update for their recently released $199 Android running tablet, the Kindle Fire. The shopping giant has not mentioned anything about the changes brought about by the new software update (v6.2).
The sad part is that the update breaks root. The worst part? You cannot stop the update from installing itself. The Kindle Fire will automatically update itself over Wi-Fi, even if the user does not want the update to happen.
The only good news? Even though users loose root access to the system partition of the tablet, they can gain it back easily by using a popular rooting utility – SuperOneClick – to root their tablet again. If Fire owners already have Android Market installed on their tablet, the Market might vanish after the update. Users will need to re-root their tablet, and then install the Android Market on the Fire again.
The zip file of the software update is available online, and some developers went through the files inside it, and according to them this software update is just aimed at fixing bugs.
Amazon recently launched the Kindle Fire, and by all measures, it has been a huge hit. It’s priced at just under $200, making it one of the cheapest tablets around. It is expected to sell nearly 4-5 million units in Q4 2011.
It may not be as good as the iPad, but it offers plenty of value to budget consumers who want a cheap tablet to read ebooks, watch videos, browse the web and maybe play with a few apps.
According to a report by Digitimes, Amazon is already working on the Kindle Fire 2. Rumors suggest that Amazon is developing 8.9 inch and 10.1 inch Kindle Fire models, and will be launching the 8.9 inch model first.
We don’t have any details about the exact specifications of either model, but they will presumably have slightly better specifications than the Kindle Fire, and Amazon will probably try to iron out all the bugs and issues with the first Kindle Fire before launching them.
Foxconn will also be manufacturing the future versions of the device, along with Quanta, the exclusive ODM for the Kindle Fire.
Maybe Apple should rethink its plans and create a cheaper iPad Mini, if it hasn’t already. With the operational expertise of Tim Cook and their hefty margins, it’s probably the only company that can bring a better device at a price of around $300. But then, they aren’t as willing as Amazon to sacrifice their margins. And they don’t need to.