Opinion Brief

iPad vs. Kindle Fire HD: Should Apple be worried about Amazon?

In an aggressive move, the e-tail giant unveils high-definition tablets that are dramatically cheaper than the iPad — but are arguably just as good

Can the Kindle be king? Last week, Amazon unveiled an iPad-sized tablet called the Kindle Fire HD, which boasts a much more attractive price tag than Apple's market-leading tablet. (For example: The entry-level iPad costs $500 with just WiFi — a similar Kindle Fire HD costs just $300.) It's all part of Amazon's strategy to get devices in people's hands, even if the gadgets are sold at a loss, so the company can make money later by selling customers books, music, magazines, and movies that they'll consume on their tablets. "We want to make money when people use our device," said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, "not when they buy our devices." The original Kindle Fire has already carved a niche for itself as an affordable alternative to the iPad. Now that Amazon is selling new 8.9-inch models for as little as $300, should Apple be worried?

The Kindle Fire HD will give the iPad fits: The new Kindle Fire HD won't just be a consumer favorite, says Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols at ZDNet. It'll be a "business favorite as well." For instance, the new "top-of-the-line" device comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Exchange, which lets business users sync email, contacts, and calendars right out of the box. "I couldn't help thinking that [the Kindle Fire HD] is what RIM's Blackberry PlayBook should have been… and wasn't." "Amazon's Kindle Fire HD will give Apple's iPad fits"

But Amazon can only compete in the U.S.: "Amazon is doing a fantastic job of positioning itself as a serious contender" — but only stateside, says Matthew Panzarino at The Next Web. The Kindle Fire HD's utility outside the U.S. is problematic. Amazon's streaming video service is only available in the U.S. Coverage for Amazon's "cloud storage and MP3 options is incredibly spotty with the U.K., France, and Germany." And, "perhaps worst of all, getting books on a Kindle outside the U.S. is a frustrating affair froth with unexpected taxes and fees." Apple has been "grinding away making deals" to secure global content for a decade. Clearly, "Amazon is 10 years behind.""Amazon's Kindle Fire won't be a threat to the iPad until it remembers the rest of the world"

It isn't Apple who should be worried…: Microsoft is the one that should watch it's back, says Dan Gallagher at Marketwatch. Amazon's tablet will undoubtedly compete with the iPad, but the Fire also makes it "more difficult for [new] companies to carve out a segment" of the marketplace. Microsoft is planning to launch its new Windows 8-powered tablet, the Surface, later this fall, with rumors suggesting a starting price tag above $500. But for Surface to stand a "fighting chance" against Amazon's aggressive pricing scheme, the Microsoft slab would have to enter the market at $299."Apple has less to worry about from Amazon's tablets than Microsoft does"

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