Google’s Nexus 7 tab: good news for Kindleers

Google’s Nexus 7 tab: good news for Kindleers

Google is taking pre-orders for a $199 Android tablet.

Nexus in the Google Play store

Clearly, in some ways, it beats the Kindle Fire. For the same price, you do get a GPS and a front-facing camera. It has Bluetooth and a microphone. It has physical volume buttons. Right now, they also give you a $25 credit at the Google store.

In other ways, it matches the Kindle Fire. Same amount of memory (although I haven’t seen how it is partitioned)…and for $50, you can get 16MB (twice as much). Google Play is expanding, but it already sells music, books, and apps, and they are adding major magazines, and will be selling movies.

It’s a solid, well-respected company that appeals to non-techies. I associate my Android SmartPhone with Google, and so will many other people.

The Kindle for Android app is already available through Google Play. It’s reasonable to assume that Kindle users will be able to read their Kindle books on a Nexus 7.

If a reasonably informed person was deciding which one to get today, a Kindle Fire or a Nexus 7, the Nexus 7 would probably win.

So, why is this good for Kindleers?

All of the above compares the Nexus 7 to the current state of the Kindle Fire…which Amazon is very likely going to change before too long.

You’ll undoubtedly see this referred to as a Kindle Fire killer, but that’s misunderstanding the old saw: “adapt or die”.

Amazon will adapt.

I think they are likely to reduce the price of the current Fire…and to introduce another model that matches the Nexus 7 at the same price.

If the hardware is seen as equivalent, and then it’s seen as Amazon versus Google, Amazon can stay in the ring.

There were already going to be good things coming for us, but I’m sure this ups the ante.

Thanks, Google!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

18 Responses to “Google’s Nexus 7 tab: good news for Kindleers”

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I agree the Nexus may get Amazon “off the pot”.

    I would think a price reduction on the fire to $149 they could do at anytime.

    I think they are looking at two announcement windows this year: something now in the e-ink space, along with some pricing moves, and then something in October for Christmas — perhaps that’s where the fire2 comes in?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      The timing thing is tricky.

      Amazon has dropped prices in response to other companies’ moves before, so I think a price drop on the Fire soon is a real possibility. They could do that easily with an ad-supported version, and throw in a store credit. They could do both: lower the price on a non-ad-supported, and go even lower with an ad-supported one.

      Amazon has also shown a willingness to let others get ahead in technology for a while. I reported on a frontlit Kindle prototype being seen before Barnes & Noble released theirs…and it’s in the requirements for the State Department deal. Still, they haven’t released it yet.

      I’m guessing that might have to do with balancing the perception of supporting both reflective screens and tablets. I think they thought that it was very successful announcing the Fire and the new RSKs at the same time, and they want to replicate that.

      I think we may see a frontlit Touch (and maybe a frontlit Mindle), a drop in the Kindle Fire 1 price (and maybe an ad-supported model), a fully-featured same size tablet…all during the summer. Then, in the fall, we could see two larger tablets…one entry level, one fully-featured.

      That’s just wild speculation, though. It could be that there wouldn’t be interest in an entry level large screen.

      Oh, and they could also significantly update the software…text-to-speech with Kindle store books for the Fire, for example. I think they are also going to want to get a lot more social…

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        Hey Bufo — I agree (or mostly I hope it all comes to pass :D). One area where I may disagree is on the advent of a larger screened fire. I’ve gradually come around to the notion that Amazon will not go down that route because of the inevitable comparisons with the iPad that would ensue. Thus far Bezos has pretty assiduously avoided head to head competition with Apple — he’s been quite adroit at picking product and pricing gaps in the Apple space to avoid direct competition.

        If a larger screened device were to appear, my thinking is that it might appear in the e-ink space (that $379 boat anchor KDX hanging around in the product line has got to be there for some reason).

        OTOH if, as some have speculated, Apple comes out with a smaller screened iPad, then all bets may be off — as direct competition would then probably be inevitable.

        For me personally, I’m waiting until Oct so I can see how it all settles out with Windows 8, new iPhone, Surfii, Kindles, etc, etc :grin

  2. N Harn Says:

    Every informatic material is improving. So, yes sure it is better than kindle fire for the same price, but fire is almost one year ! You can see how memory cards improve during only a few weeks (price and space capacities).
    I think amazon will adapt, yes, but they will adapt the times who is going, with material price decreasing.
    I am sure google would have sold the same performance of device as fire if they had released one tab one year ago.
    Do you agree with this ?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, N!

      Yes, technology tends to become less expensive over time, but I don’t think that’s the biggest factor in this case.

      Since September 28 of last year, I don’t think the cost of 8MB has gone down enough to cover the cost of a GPS and a camera and bluetooth. Perhaps it has, but the additional 8MB option only increases the price $199.

      I think the important thing is to think about what the perceptions were one minute before Amazon’s Fire announcement. 🙂 It wasn’t at all clear that the Fire (only Amazon’s second hardware product line…I don’t put it in the same line as the reflective screen Kindles) would succeed. They created a new submarket, which I call the “entertablet” (a tablet designed for entertainment) market.

      Once Amazon established that the $199 price point with a major emphasis on content would work, that makes it less risky for Google to release a similar device. With less risk, you can add more expense.

  3. Kenny Dill Says:

    Dear Bufo,

    This is Kenny Dill again. Thanks for helping my with my last project. I hope you loved it. Today only, June 28, 2012, I will be giving away for free my Random Shuffled Addition Flash Cards ($3.99 value). It clocks in at just over 20K pages. Hope some people can find it useful, I use it on my own students.

    Kenny Dill

    p.s. thanks agian Bufo! here’s the link:

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Kenny!

      To my readers:

      I’m approving this comment because the item is free, and Kenny is being up front about things in the comment.

  4. Kenny Dill Says:

    Thanks, Bufo!

    By the by, I think your analysis of the current state of content-providing-hardware is spot on. I expect a single new offering from amazon in the very near future. I would put the over/under on screen size at 9 inches, and the over/under for release date at September 16th. Of course, this is just wild speculation, but that’s what makes it so fun. If forced to bet, I would take the over on the screen size, and the under on the release date.

    It any case, this is just more great news for eBook publishers (after all, the more devices out there, the more eyes that can be reached).

  5. Tom Semple Says:

    I’m not sure it is ‘good news’ that my 8 month old Fire is hopelessly obsolete.

    I am sure that Amazon and B&N have been planning for this for some months now, and it will be interesting to see what the response is.

    But the problem Amazon (and B&N) face is that Nexus 7 offers the ‘best of both worlds’: a ‘real’ Android device (with implied commitment to future android updates), with full Google Play access, while still having access to Kindle, Audible, and streaming Amazon Instant Video (assuming Nexus 7 has Flash). It’s a more ‘open’ device (assuming Google does not block competing apps, though Amazon Appstore fixes that). At these prices, nobody makes any profit on the devices, and they are counting on content sales to make up for that.

    In terms of content, Amazon’s only advantage is in ebook selection due to all the KDP titles and exclusives. Direct access to Google’s app store more than offsets that, however, considering you can still easily install Amazon Appstore, Kindle, Cloud Player, etc. on Nexus, whereas the converse is more difficult.

    In terms of a reading device, there is not much difference between Kindle for Android and Fire’s reading app (the latter still lacks 2 column viewing in landscape). So in terms of participating in Kindle’s ecosystem, they are about the same.

    Differentiators that may favor Amazon: ability to roll out a cheaper Special Offers model, customer service.

    Favoring Google is that they control the Android platform, and they have partners who share an interest in taking Amazon down a couple of notches.

    I trust that Fire 2/FireTab will be running a more current version of Android. Wonder how that will affect the ‘Fire edition’ apps that we see now in the Amazon Appstore, or if amazon has any plan to update Fire to use something newer (I assume not)/.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      “Obsolete” connotes something to me that is no longer usable, and I don’t think the Nexus 7 is going to cause Amazon (or app developers and other content suppliers) to abandon it.

      It’s to your advantage to have Amazon upgrade your current Kindle Fire (which I think they were going to continue to do anyway, but this amps the motivation). It’s to your advantage to have Amazon update the Kindle service (which I think this will also encourage). It’s to your advantage to have more people buying Kindles, and both lowering the price and introducing better models will do that…more owners encourages more development.

      That’s why I think it’s good news, but we’ll see how things develop.

      • Karen Smith Says:

        Bufo, what are the main updates you see Amazon making to my current Fire without having to buy a new one? I love my Fire – as my entertablet – but the biggest downside with it for me is the wifi only connection. I have a feeling, though, that this is not an update possibility, right?

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Karen!

        Interesting question!

        3G access would probably require new hardware, so that’s not likely to happen as an upgrade to the existing Kindle Fires.

        There might be ways for them to boost wi-fi connectivity, but I don’t see an easy, cost effective way to do that. One might be to enable access to more types of networks/security.

        Here are some things they might be able to do with software/licensing:

        * Better battery management (they did that with the RSKs…Reflective Screen Kindles)
        * Text-to-speech for Kindle store books
        * Collections
        * A Flash upgrade
        * More interaction with Google products…they could put Chrome into the Appstore, maybe
        * An e-mail client upgrade (especially for the contacts)
        * A huge one would be device specific archives and/or a way to block/allow specific titles (of books, movies, and so on)
        * They could solve the problem with the already-present light sensor, which might give a better experience
        * More formats
        * More content (this might especially be true on video). They can really push exclusives (they have a lot of those for books)
        * Looser licensing…one thing might be to extend more Prime benefits. That’s complicated, though
        * Special Offers
        * They’ve already integrated with Shelfari’s book extras, but there could be more interactivity to come

        Those are a few ideas…

      • MikeTeeVee Says:

        I’m pretty certain there’s no secret 3G radio hidden inside my Kindle Fire. If I really, really needed 3G on my Fire, I’d add a data tethering plan to my phone.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, MikeTeeVee!

        That’s a good way to go…I’m sure not everybody knows about the option on many cellphones to use them to make a wi-fi hotspot (although you do often pay for it).

  6. Beth Jesch Says:

    I wonder if you will be able to link it to an Amazon account for the apps (like phones are linked)?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Beth!

      That’s possible: I can use Amazon Appstore apps on my Samsung Captivate. One complication is that they will be running different versions of the OS (Operating System), unless Amazon upgrades the Fire.

      • MikeTeeVee Says:

        I share the same Amazon App Store apps across my Fire and our family’s Android (2.3 Gingerbread) phones. Not all apps are compatible with all devices, but the app store knows which is which.

        For example, Swiftkey works on the phones, but not the Fire (because the Fire is locked into using only Amazon’s keyboard).

        But Calengoo works on both the phones and the Fire.

  7. MikeTeeVee Says:

    If I had a generic Android tablet (like a Galaxy Tab or Nexus) instead of a Kindle Fire, which Amazon features would still work, and which would I lose?

    I should still have access to all my Kindle books and my Amazon MP3 files, for example. Also all my Appstore apps.

    I think the two things I would lose would be Video on Demand, and personal documents. There don’t seem to be Android apps for those two features.

    On the other hand, I would gain access to everything under Google Play, including some apps that aren’t in the Amazon Appstore.

    Any other differences?

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