The Macalope Daily: It's competition now

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The Macalope’s calling it. Our long-running game called “Is It Competition Yet?” is over. Congratulations to Amazon on the introduction of the Kindle Fire.

Now, before you get your collective undies in a wad, you people should really take the time to visit Amazon and buy yourself your own individual underwear. Seriously. How you can all wear the same underwear is beyond the horny one. How do you move? Very strange. And unsanitary.

After you do that, consider the probability that the Kindle Fire is more likely to grow the tablet market by proving attractive to people who, to date, have been priced out of the market, rather than stealing share from Apple. At that price point, and that level of capability—no camera, just 8 GB of storage, an unsightly resemblance to the PlayBook—it’s not really in the iPad’s class. Butt—and the Macalope uses two t’s because it’s a really big butt—it’s part of a credible line of products from a credible company with a serious catalog of media. There are definitely going to be people who only want a tablet for content consumption and decide that 7 inches is big enough (cough) and 8 hours of battery life is long enough (no cough).

But let the Macalope be clear: He doesn’t think the Fire will significantly hurt iPad sales. He does think it’ll affect its market share, though.

Plus he’s just tired of playing “Is It Competition Yet?” It seemed fun when we started more than a year ago, but ugh.

Anyway, who cares about market share? Even if the Fire does great and gets more market share than the iPad, does anyone think people will stop developing for iOS? Does anyone think Apple will stop making gobs of money? No.

The Macalope has no idea if Amazon will really be losing $50 on every Fire it sells in order to get you to buy a Prime membership and more Kindle books and be able to mine all that delicious data. But he suspects Apple’s margins on iPads will continue to be pretty good.

As a reminder, this tablet is not an “Android” tablet. “Android” is a Google trademark that doesn’t apply if you don’t agree to the company’s licensing terms, which Amazon clearly has not. Notice that the word “Android” only appears in one spot on the Kindle Flame product page.

Additional email apps are available in our Amazon Appstore for Android.

So, remember that when you see market-share numbers start to come out. These are Kindles, not Android tablets.

Once again, of course, the sillier elements of the tech industry are screaming “iPad killer!” (Tip o’ the antlers to The Loop.) They really can’t help themselves. Go crazy, CNet’s Molly Wood. Literally.

On paper, the Kindle Fire has half the features of the iPad…

Actually, it has half the features of the iPad in real life, too. And, as Wood herself notes, maybe twice the restrictions! Think it’ll have Hulu? Competing book stores? How’s Amazon going to make money if it’s selling them at a loss and you’re buying your books from Barnes & Noble?

Doesn’t matter.

Because price is all that matters. Which is why no one ever bought an Acura instead of a Kia. Ever.


In these troubled times, and possibly even before, you need look no further than the $99 TouchPad buying frenzy for the lesson of the tablet market (and maybe every other electronics market, ultimately): it’s the price, stupid.

OK, but how many TouchPads did HP really sell? Sure, they sold fast. Almost like they were going out of style. Hmm. And how many people bought the TouchPad instead of an iPad?

Look, at $199, the Kindle Fire will sell like flat things that are hot but still not hotcakes. That doesn’t mean that any of those customers were ever going to buy an iPad in the first place. Also you’re assuming that Apple won’t lower the price of the iPad, ever. Also, you’re engaging in hackneyed technology industry hyperbole.

If anything, Amazon has done what Apple did with the iPad in the first place: create an entirely new market.

Uh, well, if it’s an entirely new market then it’s not competing with the iPad. Right?

It’s her, right? It’s not the Macalope, it’s her, isn’t it?

Being a tech pundit is like having some kind of degenerative memory loss. “The Xoom’s an iPad killer!” “Windows 8 is an iPad killer!” “The Kindle Fire is an iPad killer!”

You haven’t even held one yet.

Not to ruin the Kindle Fire victory party, but even though the Kindle Fire doesn’t bear the “Android” name, it still uses much of the underlying code. You can bet Microsoft legal is salivating.

[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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