The launch of the Kindle Fire HD is great for the consumer – but awful news for the Nexus 7 and even Apple.
The latter half of 2012 has driven the tablet market into a hitherto unheard of budget arena, with Google firing first by bringing the Nexus 7 for £159 for the 8GB model.
For a quad-core tablet with an HD screen and quality construction, plus the latest version of Android in the shape of Jelly Bean, many of us thought that this was a proposition that couldn't be beaten – at least when it came to the cost.
Enter the Amazon Kindle Fire HD, with a 16GB model costing the same as Google's 8GB offering. Sure, it's only got a dual-core processor, but you ask those looking at what to buy their husband/wife/teenager/parent at Christmas and see if they care.
Even at a higher price, Amazon's huge stock of books, music and movies was going to be a cracking proposition, suitably aided by the massive success of the Kindle brand.
But to wage war at the same price and with a higher capacity is going to be a winning stroke, as 'space to put movies and music' is something that people with no interest in technology can understand, and these guys will be making up the bulk of the users.
The main card Google is holding over its Amazonian rival is the Play Store – Amazon does have its own app portal, but with a fraction of the offerings available in Google's application warehouse. That's something that may resonate with buyers, but most will see the Kindle brand name, see the larger capacity and be convinced.
Of course, let's not forget the Apple iPad mini here. Where the Kindle Fire HD lit the touchpaper for an explosion in the budget tablet market, Apple is going to pour huge amounts of gunpowder all over the show.
However, it's not going to be racing ahead of the pack just because of the brand name – there's no way Apple will want to price the iPad mini so aggressively, not least because it doesn't want to make the cost of the current iPad 3 look so unreasonable.
Chances are you'll have to pay at least £50 more to get your hands on a smaller iPad, and if you place it next to the Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD on the shelves, buyers shorn of allegiance in the tablet market will think 'I recognise the brand names here, and the Nexus 7 / Kindle Fire HD will probably do the same thing as the iPad. Plus I can buy myself a cake with the money I've saved. I love cake.'
So while you can say the tablet market has been fairly quiet in its formative years, it looks like we're set to see a real explosion now – and thankfully, it's not going to cost the earth to get your hands on one of these new devices, either.
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