As you may have seen, the launch of the Google Nexus 7 has basically turned the 7″ Kindle Fire into a “toy” which purchase is really hard to justify because its hardware is so weak, the software is so locked, and the added simplicity is so little. The arrival of the $200 Tegra-3/Android 4.1 powered Nexus 7 will change the landscape in what used to be called “low-end” Android tablets, and this is great.
For too long, tablet makers thought that providing “good enough” would be… good enough. For one, things like the Kindle Fire turned out to be *not* good enough, and secondly, users want more, better, and they can now find it elsewhere. The time for tepid hardware is over – at least for the next year or so.
Of course, there are legitimate questions about the sustainability of a Nexus 7 which is sold at cost, or for a loss by Google. But this is a problem that the industry needs to figure out. If Asus and NVIDIA can build a $250 tablet, which ends up being subsidized somewhat by Google, it clearly means that the next Kindle Fire must reach that bar – or face rather unexcited consumers.
Amazon has not awoken in shock yesterday. From their own channels, and from the presentation from ASUS and NVIDIA at CES 2012, they knew this was coming. And apparently, they have been preparing themselves: it has been reported that Amazon will launch a 10″ Kindle which is powered by Samsung’s quad-core Exynos, the same one that can be found in the International Galaxy S3, and it’s not unreasonable to think that the tablet version can endure faster frequencies and temperatures.
Internal sources say that “it’s up a notch from the Kindle Fire”, that’s great because it’s not a “nice to have” for Amazon. This is a must-have. Fortunately, Amazon isn’t in a dire situation. It does not have to make money on the hardware, and it will benefit from the rise of any competitor as the Amazon app has existed for a long time – it’s actually good enough… But with its hardware, Amazon really wants to gather more influence on the market and control the experience to some extent. To do that, it will need something that people want to buy, and great hardware is the key.