Quick Thoughts on the Kindle Fire & App Compatibility
First things first – anyone comparing the Kindle Fire to the iPad will not only be disappointed, but is missing the point. One likely scenario is that the iPad becomes the high-end tablet of choice and the Kindle Fire becomes the low-end tablet of choice, squeezing out all the other tablets in the middle.
The intent of the Kindle Fire was never to challenge the iPad but to create a low cost consumption vehicle for Amazon’s huge storefront, ranging from books (Kindle), music, digital movies, and of course general purpose shopping on Amazon’s storefront. In order to pursue this goal, Amazon sought to modify the Android OS to have the user’s identity revolve around an Amazon account rather than a Google account. This of course is one major reason why Amazon built their own Appstore for Android (Google’s Market App requires a Google login).
In pursuing this shift to Amazon credentials, this in turn made the Kindle Fire incompatible with any apps which require a Google login such as Gmail, Market, Reader, Voice and more. Apparently, Google Maps will work (with some manual effort) as it does not require a Google login. So yes, Amazon’s strategic direction here did result in “breaking” some Google App functionality, but let’s not forget the other side of the coin which is that it was Google who “baked in” some the Google account functionality into Android OS, thus creating this situation. While this is all a disappointment, I don’t see the lack of these Google apps being a big obstacle to the Kindle Fire’s success in the lower end of the tablet market.
My 10-year old daughter loves both reading and Angry Birds. With the Kindle Fire, as a parent I can provide her with Kindle version of her favorite books at lower cost, while she can do other things on the tablet ranging from reading other periodicals, streaming TV shows, researching topics on the Internet, and playing games. (Side note: tablets don’t have parental controls – there’s no replacement for monitoring your child’s activities and providing them with guidance when using online services). At the other end of the demographic I could also see the Kindle Fire being a good fit for my parents.
The Kindle Fire is no iPad, but it was never intended to be one either. It can be a good low end media consumption device which is good enough for millions of consumers for whom an iPad might be too much, but the Kindle Fire is within reach.