As would-be tablet king-slayers have repeatedly been thrown into the ring with the iPad in the fight for market dominance only to limp back to their respective corners bloodied and bruised, it looks like companies have finally got the message, you can’t compete with the iPad.
So what does a technology company do when faced with the all out dominance of a product like Apple’s iPad? It creates its own market segment, of course, and looks to avoid direct competition with the iPad altogether. It was almost a year ago when Amazon first unveiled the Kindle Fire, a relatively small 7-inch touchscreen device that revolutionized the tablet market by giving consumers choices both on the size and price of a tablet, and now, nearing the anniversary of creating a new tablet market segment, Amazon is doubling down with two new Kindle Fire models.
But with so many other competitors still struggling to compete with Apple as well, you just knew that competing with Amazon would really be their only choice, evidenced by the rising tide of 7-inch tablet entries.
While I’m sure that Amazon would like to have an Apple-like hold over this 7-inch tablet space, given the fact that like Apple with the iPad, the e-commerce giant effectively created its own market space and filled it with popular products, the reality is that with entries from Google with the Nexus 7 and the persistent rumour that Apple will be producing an iPad mini, its clear that Amazon’s dominance in this market space is tenuous at best.
In fact, in order to create a cost-effective 7-inch tablet it was clear from the outset that Amazon had to sacrifice some of the functionality of a larger 10-inch tablet, with meant that competitors in that 7-inch tablet space had a point of attack. So while Apple’s iPad dominance has yet to show any cracks, there naturally existed significant areas for improvement in smaller tablets, leaving competitors scrambling to create upgrades that filled those holes.
Despite rumours that the e-commerce giant would create a larger 10-inch tablet to compete with Apple, Amazon chose to further cement its hold on the 7-inch space by unveiling two new Kindle Fire models. While one of the models is simply a small redesign on the older (now conveniently ‘sold out’) Kindle Fire, the company is also releasing a bolder, faster, stronger version as well, one that sports hardware upgrades, a camera, more storage capacity, and an HDMI port.
As mentioned, however, other technology companies are looking to enter this tablet space as well, with Google recently releasing the Nexus 7, a powerful device that packs almost as much punch as its larger 10-inch tablet counterparts, a move that is almost certainly designed to pave the way for the entire Android ecosystem to follow suit.
In the end, as companies fight for dominance in this newly created 7-inch tablet space– with Amazon releasing two new Kindle Fire models and Google paving the way for Android with the Nexus 7–it might not matter anyways, given the fact that should Apple release an iPad Mini this year (as we all expect it will) these other 7-inch tablets will be likely be quickly forgotten.