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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD Ad Highlights iPad Mini Deficiencies

Amazon recently chose to run an ad comparing the Kindle Fire HD to its iPad Mini competition.  Specifically, this ad called out the inferior display that Apple has decided to include in its new $329 tablet.  We can’t necessarily expect even-handedness in advertising comparisons, especially in situations like this where the new device is clearly meant to come across as a high-end alternative to an established product.  Even so, it’s startling that Amazon thought they could get away with telling blatant lies about the iPad Mini to improve their business!

The ad in question can be seen on the right.  It has since been pulled from Amazon.com in response to the outpouring of hate over internet injustice.  The points are fairly easy to follow.  The Kindle has a better display, better sound, and better wireless connectivity.  Problems have been found with all of these assertions.

First, there is the issue of the screen.  It’s true that the Kindle has more pixel density than the iPad Mini.  Nobody is disputing that.  It’s also true that it runs at a higher resolution.  Amazon’s claim that the iPad lacks HD movies and TV or that there solution is too low for HD are obviously half-truths, though!

Ok, that complaint is almost half-true at best.  It has been coming up a lot, though.  The iPad Mini will have access to HD content.  It will be able to play that content.  It will NOT be able to display that HD content in a way that properly highlights its quality.  The minimum accepted standard for something to be referred to as “HD” is 720p.  The Mini’s 1024 x 768 resolution meets the 720 vertical requirement, but the 16:9 aspect ratio for HD playback quality is impossible without at least a 1280 x 720 resolution.  In other words, there will be HD content but the only way to view it in HD will be to output to an external display using adapters and devices sold separately.

Lacking that support, many complaints fall back on the sound comparison.  This is troubling for Amazon since Apple has clarified recently that their new tablet has stereo sound.  Before this clarification, which came well after the ad we’re looking at was released, Apple was still listing the iPad Mini as having a “Built in Speaker”.  When that’s the description in the product specs, it’s hard to complain about people believing it.  It’s hardly something Amazon needs to be making things up to support, either.  The Kindle Fire HD has been reviewed across the board as having the best sound playback out of any tablet on the market today including the full size iPad.

All that leaves us with is the WiFi.  Is Amazon overstating the importance of MIMO?  For some customers whose use will regularly involve strong signals and fast transfer rates, maybe.  It’s hard to see that as being the major deciding factor for anybody, though, and it is still something that the Mini lacks.

Did Amazon choose their comparison points selectively to highlight the Kindle Fire HD?  Of course.  It isn’t particularly hard to find points of comparison that could pull that off, though.  The amount of response this ad has received is ridiculous.

iPad Mini Details Provide Amazon With Kindle Fire Sales Boost

As the rumors grew more intense and details began to leak from production line sources about the reality of Apple’s new device, it became fairly common to see “hold off on any purchases until the iPad Mini is ready” posted as advice.  There is even reason to believe that many people took that advice, it turns out.  Amazon put out a statement recently indicating that the 24rd of October (One day after Apple’s iPad Mini launch event) was “the $199 Kindle Fire HD‘s biggest day of sales since launch”.

Some of the lack of interest in the iPad Mini has to come from its shockingly high price.  At $329 for the basic unit it is hard to compete with the $199 Kindle Fire HD in a market oriented toward people wanting to spend less for their tablet.  That extra $130 is a huge step above the prices of 7” tablets that Apple has openly shown they intend to compete with.

More importantly, the Kindle Fire HD has a superior display.  Now display isn’t everything, but it’s a lot.  Apple has largely maintained their advantage in tablets by offering some of the best visual performance money can buy.  A tablet, like a smartphone, is basically a handheld screen; nothing could be more apparent as a selling point.  Amazon and Google have had to price their tablets at cost in order to compete with the iPad up until now, but with better prices AND better visuals the competition is more than weighted against Apple for once.

The spec comparisons largely go in this direction.  Apple cut so much out of their device that just about all it has going for it is the slightly larger screen size (7.9” vs 7”) and the name “iPad”.

It’s possible that the iOS ecosystem will overcome these deficits.  It certainly will be the biggest factor in driving sales.  As more and more developers optimize their apps for the iPad 3’s A5X processor and the iPad 4’s A6X processor, however, people using the iPad Mini’s A5 processor might find their experience increasingly lacking.  Anecdotes of iPhone 4 owners unhappy with the problems created by iOS 6 performance are common enough to make this particularly important.  We’re talking about a device using roughly the same technology as the iPad 2 at a time when the iPad 4 is headlining.

There is still every reason for Amazon to be concerned about their chances in the larger tablet market.  The 4th Generation iPad was updated to compete with the sort of powerful Windows 8 tablets beginning to hit the market and it is hard to imagine that even the $200 price difference in favor of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9” will be enough to drive sales in the face of those competitors unless Amazon does some serious expansion of their content ecosystem before the November 20th release date.

In terms of smaller tablets, it’s fair to say that the big names to watch right now are Google, Amazon, and maybe Barnes & Noble.  Apple has priced their option right out of the running, given what it’s made of.  As much as I like the Kindle Fire, it would have been great to get some even more intense competition to push things forward.  It’s a disappointment that Apple didn’t come through here.

Apple Issues Kindle an Ultimatum

Since pretty much the start of the Kindle platform, it’s been all about the availability.  Sure, you can get yourself a physical Kindle and it’s amazing, but part of the convenience is knowing that whether you’re at work and have a free moment at the PC or on the subway with nothing but your iPhone, you can pull up your book and pick up right where you left off.  It’s always nicer to read on your Kindle, but the apps are what makes the eBook stand out for many people as a worthwhile purchase.

Unfortunately, and whether that is unfortunate for Amazon or for iOS users remains to be seen, Apple has decided that eReading apps are far too popular for them not to take a cut if they can manage it.  Sony’s Reader app was just denied a place in the App store and others dealers, including Amazon, will have until March 31st to bring themselves into line with the newly enforced policy related to that denial.  Namely, users are no longer going to be allowed to view purchased material from outside sources unless that same material is available for purchase directly through the app that would be used to view it.  Which means, basically, that Apple is wanting a 30% cut of all eBook sales.

What happens next is still up in the air, but the ball is in Amazon’s court, so to speak.  It’s possible that we could see them do nothing.  Judging entirely by the few iPad users I know, many would be outraged by the removal of the Kindle app and bought it for very little besides its capability as a reading device.  Frankly, I gather that iBooks has proven disappointing.

It’s also entirely possible that Amazon could cave in and put a convenient purchase option in their Apps, with a markup for the convenience.  I don’t know how that would square exactly with the Apple rules in the long run, but at least there would be some way to buy besides the Amazon website’s Kindle Store.  Maybe some people would even use it, not knowing better or because it’s quicker than flipping over to a web browser.

The one thing I absolutely cannot see happening is Amazon just letting Apple take a 30% cut out of existing purchase prices.  One of their biggest pushes in the last year has been to attract new authors interested in publishing cheap eBooks directly through the site.  The big push is the 70% royalty option, of course.  Does anybody really believe that Amazon is willing to give up their cut in its entirety?  Or that the attraction for authors would be nearly as great if they knew that they would only be getting 49% instead of their supposed 70% on any iOS purchase(($1 *.7)*.7=$0.49)?  I don’t.

When you sum all this up, it seems like the only people that Apple can hope to hurt with this move will be their own customers.  I get that they feel like they deserve money since it’s their device being used, but it’s a bit late to start pulling that.  Call having the app a value adding opportunity for your hardware sales and leave it at that.  The Kindle vs iPad comparisons and debates are only fun when they both do the same job still!