As we mentioned last month, tablets are going to be a hot item this holiday season. But not all of us are willing to spend $500 on an iPad. According to an article in the New York Times, the good news is that the Kindle Fire is available at WalMart and Best Buy for $200. The bad news: the Kindle Fire isn’t very good.
Amazon has been promising improvements with a software update becoming available in the next few weeks and a new version of the Fire being released in the Spring. The software update is expected to improve navigation and to provide better privacy settings. Critics say that it will take more than that to fix the device’s temperamental touch screen and inconvenient screen size. They say that it’s uncomfortable to view sites that are meant for larger tablets, let alone desktops and unless you have particularly slender and graceful fingers, you’re in trouble. Consumers who bought the product also complained that the volume and on/off switch were designed inconveniently and that web sites load slowly.
The one thing is does satisfactorily (although still not as well as the Kindle e-reader) is allow you to download books.
And now you’ve found the trick. While Amazon works to improve the Kindle Fire, they can still afford to keep selling the inferior product in the meantime. People will continue to buy it because of its price. Similarly, Amazon has started selling the original Kindle for around $80 at places like WalMart and Best Buy. At that price, they’re probably not even breaking even. But once the device is bought, its users will then turn to Amazon’s website to buy all of the media to fill it with.
Usually, the bad reviews and analyst condemnation would be enough to kill a product. But maybe because the device itself isn’t the money maker for Amazon it seems to be getting a second chance.
The question that remains to be answered however is whether or not the Kindle Fire can recover from a bad first impression. Amazon seems to be making the effort and with a $300 price difference between the Fire and the iPad, I would like to think it will make it.