Why Amazon’s Time in the Hardware Sun May Be Over

Why Amazon’s Time in the Hardware Sun May Be OverRemember when Amazon was predominantly known as a book seller? Those were the days. Fast forward to September 2011, and we met the Amazon Kindle Fire. Fast forward another bunch of months, and no less than three new pieces of Amazon hardware are rumoured to be in the proverbial pipeline.

I’m generally quite a positive guy, but I can see all three of the aforementioned falling flat on their metaphorical faces – for various reasons. Ready for an impromptu rant? Notes? Where we're going, we don't need notes (apologies in advance).

Right, a little bit of history for starters. The first Amazon Kindle Fire went down a freakin’ storm, retailing at $199 in the US, and reportedly selling a million units a week over the Christmas period. Not too shabby.

Why Amazon’s Time in the Hardware Sun May Be OverConsumers outside North America were left sobbing, however the Amazon Kindle Fire’s US exclusivity might finally be about to come to an end; it’s been confirmed that the Amazon Android Appstore is coming to the UK (among other countries).

But… has the moment passed?

There’s a distinct possibility of receiving all three of these new Amazon devices in the UK. Here’s why I don’t really care:

Amazon Kindle Fire 2 (or something)

Back when the original Amazon Kindle Fire was a mere twinkle in CEO Jeff Bezos’ eye, it was suggested that we’d receive not one, nor two, but three Amazon devices, namely a 7in tablet, a 10in tablet, and a smartphone.

Alas, all that materialised last year was the plain old 7in Amazon Kindle Fire, with limited access to Android apps, no camera, and no external volume control. Amazing. Still, like I said, that didn’t stop it selling by the bucketload.

Why Amazon’s Time in the Hardware Sun May Be OverWhere am I going with this? Ahh yes; in the subsequent months, the rumour mill couldn’t quite decide what – if anything – was coming next. In recent weeks, however, there have been persistent rumours of another 7in tablet.

Instead of a potential 10in rival to the iPad, or something significantly different, we’re expecting a slightly faster processor, a cursory camera, and an improved resolution.

However, sales of the first Amazon Kindle Fire have been dwindling, and we can’t imagine why a modest enhancement in terms of specs would necessarily capture consumers’ imaginations again.

Furthermore, there’s now the Asus Nexus 7 to consider, and – if the rumour mill is to be believed – an iPad mini. The budget tablet arena is really heating up. Maybe.

Having said that, we might see a buying frenzy outside the US. Assuming it does hit amazon.co.uk, the next Amazon Kindle Fire will be the first such device available to Sally Scotland, Emma England, and Wendy Wales.

And, on the plus side, the Amazon Kindle Fire would have the advantage of sitting on the Amazon homepage (they get a fair few hits per day, right?), with a unique appeal as a beefed up Kindle eReader type thing. Merely speculating here, but I dare say Joe Average is more aware of the Kindle than he is, say, the Asus Nexus 7.

Let’s recap those negatives:

  • Lame specs
  • There’s the Asus Nexus 7 and possibly an iPad mini to contend with
  • The buying frenzy in the US was very temporary

And the positives:

  • Amazon’s brand awareness
  • Pushing the Kindle Fire on the Amazon homepage

And now, since I’ve rambled on for freakin’ ages about the next 7in Amazon Kindle Fire, let’s quickly discuss the others.

Amazon Kindle Fire 10in

Is there really a market for a 10in Amazon Kindle Fire? The cheap 7in model serves well as a souped-up Kindle eReader (some refuse to categorise it as a tablet, incidentally), but it’s hard to imagine how a 10in model would fit in.

Why Amazon’s Time in the Hardware Sun May Be OverPart of the Amazon Kindle Fire’s appeal is the price, with Amazon making money from the sale of content. A 10in model would inevitably be more expensive to produce, with a bigger battery and presumably a faster processor. Jack up the price and you start getting into you-know-what territory. The iPad 2, for example, is $399/£329.

Amazon Smartphone

If the rumours are true, the Amazon smartphone is nearing production, with Amazon reportedly seeking out patents in anticipation of juicy courtroom action. Other sources suggest the Amazon smartphone is at the testing stage.

In any case, it’s hard to imagine – like the Amazon Kindle Fire 10in – where the Amazon smartphone would fit in. The Amazon Kindle Fire struck gold at the $199 price mark, but there are already tons of budget Android smartphones. Hmm.

In conclusion

Not being negative, just realistic, you understand. We might see a repeat of the original Amazon Kindle Fire buying frenzy as it expands across the globe, but beyond that, we can’t see Amazon making much of a splash in the hardware field.

Prove us wrong, Bezos.

Read more about: Amazon Kindle FireAndroid

Add a comment

Pondlife  Jul. 13, 2012 at 13:25

Worse than that they've got windows phone execs on board..

Pondlife  Jul. 13, 2012 at 13:28

Also the trouble with phones in the states as we've had on here before is that they have to be on contracts and not much price difference on handsets so why get an Amazon one

matt101101 / MOD  Jul. 13, 2012 at 13:33

7 Inch Tablet: Lets face it, the only reason anyone bought the Kindle Fire was because it's cheap. With the far better Nexus 7 around, why buy a Kindle Fire?

10 Inch Tablet: One word; iPad.

Smartphone: Not a hope against the already packed world of Android smartphones. There's already something for everyone out there (apart from for Jan, but he's just difficult :p).

Geek1  Jul. 17, 2012 at 23:48

How soon we forget. First Amazon introduced the Kindle and that was a game changer. Then it improved on the Kindle and others followed. Amazon then introduced the Fire at a value price, not to compete with the I-Pad but to provide color features and some capability at a value price along with their Eco-system.

Today the Fire has competition in the 7" space with products that are more robust than the Fire. Is Amazon going to sit still, I suspect not. The market Amazon is after is selling content that includes movies and games. What there next device might look like is anyones guess but you know it will be more fully featured than the current Fire and a price that will appeal to many.

If Amazon follows its prior roadmap, they will introduce an array of products at different price points with some hook that will be appealing to many.

Pondlife  Jul. 18, 2012 at 12:13

And if they follow their prior roadmap most will not be available here or will be significantly delayed in release.

moonmonkey  Sep. 15, 2012 at 17:36

Hmm, how things change after a couple of months.
I think the 7 inch Fire HD will do very well, and the larger one if/when it gets released.

Oh and the same applies to the Kindle paperwhite when it is released too...

Pondlife  Sep. 15, 2012 at 17:50

Maybe and they definitely upped the specs with the new ones, but I wouldn't have the Fire as only their market. Nice hardware and I love the x ray feature, the rest, meh, especially as the features are mainly US centric. woo a whole free month lovefilm instant...

Paperwhite with no eta seems no better than Kobo Glo out in fortnight.

moonmonkey  Sep. 15, 2012 at 17:58

Maybe and they definitely upped the specs with the new ones, but I wouldn't have the Fire as only their market. Nice hardware and I love the x ray feature, the rest, meh, especially as the features are mainly US centric. woo a whole free month lovefilm instant...

Paperwhite with no eta seems no better than Kobo Glo out in fortnight.

There will be ways around the Amazon marketplace thing only I'm sure.
It would have been nice to get Lovefilm with Prime over here too, defo.
I think it will be v popular with with the average joe who isn't particular into tech and Amazon devotees. (I do customer service for them and there are a few!).

Glo v paperwhite, will need to see once they come out.


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