Why the Amazon Kindle Fire could topple the iPad

A Kindle Tablet could be something very special indeed

For all the talk of iPad killers over the last year or so, there's no such thing.

Rather than iPad killers we've seen a lot of iPad-a-likes, disappointing devices that have been designed to do much the same as the iPad does. Only one firm is spanking Apple in the portable media market, and it doesn't even make tablets.


I'm talking about Amazon, whose Kindle is the most Apple-y thing I've owned that Apple didn't actually make. The buying experience, the packaging, the process of buying books and reading them is all Apple all the way: it just works, brilliantly.

Amazon understands what the iPad-a-likes don't: it's not about horsepower, or a pretty case, or cutting-edge anything. It's about delivering an experience that delights people, and having an enormous amount of stuff people can download to their shiny new toy.

I can't wait to see what it does with a tablet.

Here comes trouble

The Amazon Kindle Fire is incoming. According to Digitimes, Taiwanese notebook firm Quanta Computer "has recently received OEM orders from Amazon for its reported tablet PC and the device will also receive full support [from] E Ink holdings for supplying touch panels." So there you go. A touch-screen Kindle tablet.

If you look at the reviews of iPad rivals, they tend to fall down in two areas. They deliver a disappointing user experience, or they don't have much content, or both. We know that Amazon can nail the user experience, and we know that Amazon has got a really big hard disk with lots of things on it - including an Android App Store- and a fast, simple payment system millions of people trust.

Apps, music, movies, books, newspapers... if it can be digitised, Amazon delivers it, and it delivers it exceptionally well.

The Kindle's web browser is crappy, sure, and the music player is basic to say the least, but people don't buy Kindles to browse the web or listen to MP3s. They buy it for the thing it's absolutely brilliant at: buying, downloading and reading books. If Amazon can make a tablet that's as good with music, movies and Angry Birds, it'll sell millions.

Where other rivals' devices take the iPad as a starting point, their sales pitch essentially "hey! Buy our tablet! It's like an iPad, honest!", Amazon could take a completely different angle.

"You thought the Kindle was awesome?" Amazon could ask. "Wait until you see this!"

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.