There are lots of articles on the Net saying the new Kindle Fire is a threat to phone OEM tablets and/or the iPad. I am not so convinced.
In terms of Android it’s a variant of 2.3 which means it’s not using the tablet version of Android which means it acts more like a smartphone than a tablet. Furthermore, it doesn’t include Android Market nor Google’s Apps (e.g Maps). It only has WiFi and not 3G which means it’s a lot less capable than many tablets. Finally, it’s also looking like it won’t be available outside N America.
The Silk web browser looks innovative in that it speeds up browsing by caching and adapting content at Amazon’s servers. However, it’s not that innovative because Opera do this and ReqWireless, acquired by Google in 2005, pioneered this idea. Ummm, I wonder if Google now have patents for this? I do question whether server side is really required. Is it solving a real problem? Web browsing, especially via WiFi provided by the Fire, is already acceptable in my opinion. Messing about with server side web browsing introduces security and privacy concerns, content adaption can provide problems for developers and ultimately isn’t that scaleable without huge server resources.
Instead of competition, I see the Kindle Fire as a different category of device – Low end and more tied to one set of services – Amazon’s in this case. It’s more like the Barnes & Noble Nook and existing Kindles I suppose. I anticipate we will see similar, vertical tablets emerge from brands who wish to try to channel users to their brands. However, typical end users buying these to get the full tablet experience are likely to be disappointed and get buyers remorse. I say ‘typical’ because more technical users such as you and I will be able to side load, hack, unlock and possibly tether these devices to make them much more useful.
UPDATE: From the developer FAQ "Your app cannot require a gyroscope, camera, WAN module, Bluetooth, microphone, GPS, or micro-SD to function"