5 Reasons why Amazon’s Kindle Fire is succeeding

Late last year I predicted the Amazon tablet would sell like hot cakes and become that season's Cabbage Patch doll. While I wasn't spot on with my timing, the Kindle Fire is selling extremely well.

Amazon has at least partially cracked the code when it comes to challenging Apple’s tablet hegemony. We now know that, per Comscore’s latest report, the Kindle Fire nearly doubled its share of the Android tablet market, jumping impressively from approximately 30% in December to 55% share by the end of February.

Hands-down the Fire is the number one Android tablet of choice, easily besting the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Asus Transformer Prime (my favorite), and any incarnation of the Motorola Xoom.

Late last year I predicted the Amazon tablet would sell like hot cakes and become that season’s Cabbage Patch doll. While I wasn’t spot on with my timing, the Kindle Fire is selling extremely well.

No doubt, the Apple iPad is still King; holding 55% overall share of the tablet market according to IDC. But it may surprise some that Android, thanks to Amazon’s marketing prowess, is finally making inroads.

So then, why is the Kindle Fire succeeding where other iPad rivals have failed?

At 7-inches it’s smaller, different

How do you differentiate yourself against the iPad? One way: be different when it comes to size.

Instead of going with the defacto 10-inch display, Amazon chose a smaller, more portable 7-inch form factor for Kindle. If you want larger, then go iPad, but if you like reading books (and that’s a bet Amazon is comfortable making) then chances are this size will satisfy.


Amazon and Apple (and maybe Google) have the advantage of massive content arsenals. Neither Samsung, Motorola nor Toshiba, as traditional hardware players, can match them without resorting to non-integrated partnerships that negatively impact the overall experience.

No carrier commits

For $199 you’re free and clear. Yes, there’s no 3G/4G, but the idea of buying a tablet directly from Amazon, supported by Amazon, and filled with content by Amazon is apparently a simple, no-nonsense proposition for many.

Kindle is a recognized and trusted brand

Bezos and company have done a clever thing here. They’ve drafted off the Kindle brand, a brand that has achieved significant mindshare over the past few years. By using it as a wedge to gain a foothold into the larger tablet space, they’ve brought consumers something immediately recognizable.

It just works

Many have complained about the crippled Android experience on the Kindle Fire. I suggest those buyers are trying to do more with the device than intended. For us that prefer more power, and the pure Android tablet experience there is always a plethora of other choices out there. In terms of mainstream sales success chasing power alone misses the point. This is about picking up a Kindle Fire, turning it on and being able to read, to listen, or to watch with minimal fuss – there’s no overclocking dugouts here.

Bonus: Price

A sixth reason is price, though probably obvious. At only $199 via Amazon direct, the Kindle Fire is less than 50% of the entry $499 Apple iPad.

Notice any conspicuous absences from this list?

There is no mention of quad-cores. Of super-wicked-wowza AMOLED HD displays. Of Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Simplifying the consumer experience — and communicating it to us in layman’s terms — could be the biggest lesson here when it comes to ratcheting up sales. And that Amazon knows extremely well.

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  • Feverhost

    Its the price…..

    • You can buy a Vizio tablet at Costco for $189. How does its sales compare?

  • Omari

    Actually, reason #1 should be: Kindle is not an Android tablet.

    I bet if you go on the Kindle product page on Amazon you won’t find “Android” mentioned anywhere, except maybe in user comments. If you ask most Kindle buyers what operating system is in there, you’d get a blank look. Kindle is not marketed as an Android tablet. As far as the consumer is concerned, it is not an Android tablet.

    And why should it be? What does Android offer as a brand? Nothing. Amazon has a much better brand.

    I suppose the response to this is: “but it’s running Android.” So what? The other companies–Moto, Asus, etc.–are trying to make that a selling point. But it’s not a good one. Android is not worth buying. That’s what Amazon figured out. Actually, it’s probably so obvious that they did not even need to figure it out. You don’t make a car and say “this is an Alcoa Aluminum car” or “this is a Goodyear Rubber car.” Those things are commodities. So is Android.

    • Good points. By my count Amazon does mention “Android” 3x on the Kindle Fire product, but you’re right: the fact that the tablet runs Android is definitely far from its main selling points. 

      In consumer’s minds I’m guessing “Kindle” = portable, easy to use, low cost and lots of content.

      Meanwhile, “Android” = techy, complicated, powerful, and not as focused on consuming content.

    • Actually, I think the #1 reason is price.  Or at least price/performance.  When it came out, tablets with similar capabilities were typically $100-$200 more.

  • Drmarkus

    “Simplifying the consumer experience — and communicating it to us in layman’s terms — could be the biggest lesson here”
    Not to be a dim bulb, but what does “there’s no overclocking the dugouts here” mean? I like baseball, but have no knowledge of this particular colloquialism….

    • That would be (a) a place where Android rooters and ROM flashers hang- myself included sadly, or (b) a very poor analogy.