If the tablet market were just about media tablets, I'd say the Kindle tablet and iPad would be competitors. The iPad is better at video and Web surfing due to its larger screen and greater library, but the Kindle enjoys the edge with e-books due to its much larger library and greater portability.
But that's like comparing an all-in-one PC to a TV because they both play video and connect to Netflix. The iPad is much more than a media tablet. It's a productivity device, a communications device, and a media creation device -- check out apps like GarageBand and Keynote to see what I mean. The iPad also has sufficient security and management capabilities to fit in most businesses, so it can be a dual-use single device for many consumers. By contrast, most "iPad-killers" have ignored the needs of business, and only the Android 3.x-based ones are even starting to get there.
The media tablet is just one aspect of the iPad, whereas it's the point of the Kindle Fire. Apple's made iOS into a rich operating system, one about to become even more capable with iOS 5. By contrast, Amazon.com has forked the Android OS -- and the smattphone-oriented 2.3 "Gingerbread" version at that, not the tablet-oriented 3.0 "Honeycomb" one -- to create its own variation, meaning it will not get the new capabilities that Google has in store with Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" (due this fall) as it tries to keep up with and even surpass iOS. From the early version that TechCrunch's Siegler saw, it won't access the Android Market and its apps, and it may not run Android apps at all. Its hardware limitations would make it a dicey platform for many, after all.
The bottom line is that neither the iPad nor the Kindle Fire will kill the other. They serve different needs, despite some overlap. I'm confident the Kindle Fire will do well; so will the iPad. Meanwhile, the iPad-wannabes -- oops, I mean iPad-killers -- will come and go.
Amazon.com is not playing the "keeping up with Apple" game, but instead is playing its own game, one it is likely to win -- smartly.
This article, "Amazon's Kindle tablet vs. the iPad: No contest," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.