Steve Wildstrom criticizes many Fire reviews, claiming that the reason we’re disappointed is that we’re comparing it to the iPad and expecting a $200 tablet to perform as well as the $500 tablet.
That’s not my argument at all, and I thought I was very careful not to say or imply that the Kindle Fire is a poor product because it’s not like the iPad. Rather, my point was that the Kindle Fire is not a good product because it’s not a good implementation of what it’s supposed to be: a multimedia Kindle.
As Steve wrote:
Amazon had entirely different goals. It was looking for a way to build on the success of the Kindle, to offer a more capable device whose capabilities would mostly focus on enabling the purchase of stuff, especially digital content, from Amazon. It wanted a device it could sell for $200 without losing its shirt, and it designed the Kindle with the compromises necessary to make that price point.
I agree: it does seem like those were Amazon’s goals. They now have an inexpensive tablet that makes it extremely easy for its users to buy more from Amazon.
Note the apparent absence of goals such as “Make a great reading experience” or “Make a great portable video player”. It serves Amazon’s business goals (assuming it sells), but it doesn’t serve its customers’ goals well.
As an aside, I need to argue with Steve in good fun about his car analogy:
Complaining that the Fire is less thrilling or compelling than an iPad is a bit like grumbling that a Honda Civic is less fun and exciting than an Audi A6. Both do what they are intended to do very well (though their intended functions are a lot more alike than the Fire and the iPad.)
The Civic is a great car. It’s not the fastest, the most fun, or the must luxurious, but it’s smooth, comfortable, versatile, and extremely reliable. It does what it’s supposed to do exceptionally.
The Kindle Fire is not a great tablet. It doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do well. That’s the difference. If Amazon had made a “Civic of tablets”, it would have been a much better product. Maybe, someday, they will.