Why the iPad has smoked the Kindle Fire

Tablet users expect their mobile device to help them get stuff done -- something Amazon.com's little tablet can't do

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Given that you don't see the Kindle Fire sold at many retail outlets, where you could get your hands on one, word of mouth is very important. Because current Fire users aren't all that enthusiastic, their friends and coworkers are less likely to buy one, which is exactly what another part of the ChangeWave survey shows. Of the respondents who said they plan to buy a tablet in the next three months, just 7 percent said they'll purchase a Fire, compared to 73 percent who expect to buy an iPad; 6 percent say they'll get a Galaxy Tab.

That 7 percent number looks even worse when you compare it to the enthusiastic reception the Fire got when it launched for the 2011 holiday season. At that time, 22 percent of likely tablet buyers said they'd purchase a Fire. When it comes to the Fire, it appears that familiarity breeds contempt.

An opportunity for Microsoft?
If productivity is a key feature for users, does that mean that Microsoft will finally get some traction in the tablet market with its forthcoming tablet-friendly Windows 8? Jeff Orr, director of consumer research for ABI Research, thinks it's possible. You'll see Microsoft try to take advantage of users' familiarity with Windows and Office as Windows 8 enters the market later this year, he says.

A flotilla of Windows 8 tablets are already headed our way. "Our customers have 20 designs in their labs based on Clover Trail," said Hermann Eul, president of Intel Mobile Communications Group, at the Computex trade show this week in Taipei. For example, Asus announced the Asus Tablet 810 with an 11.6-inch screen, Intel's Clover Trail processor, and the Windows 8 OS. Lenovo has said it will release a ThinkPad tablet with Windows 8 running on Intel chips, and Dell has said it would release a Windows 8 tablet later this year.

I'm not at all bullish on Windows 8, but my hands-on experience with the new Microsoft OS has been limited to a PC, a device that doesn't give full play to the capabilities of the new, touch-oriented Metro interface. If the tablets work better with Windows 8, and Microsoft and its partners provide decent productivity tools, partial solutions like the Kindle Fire will likely fare even worse.

As my colleague Galen Gruman points out, it's fairly clear that users are embracing a world in which they own and use a number of portable devices. But there's a limit. Many of us own a laptop, a smartphone, and a tablet. But buying a fourth device, an e-reader or a crippled tablet like the Fire, is simply a screen too far.

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This article, "Why the iPad has smoked the Kindle Fire," was originally published by InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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