Wolverton: Amazon’s new Kindle Fire can compete against Apple’s iPad

San Jose Mercury News tech columnist Troy Wolverton today delivered this column on Amazon’s newly-introduced Kindle Fire tablet, which he says may be the first “worthy competitor” to Apple’s iPad.

Apple, of course, has the big advantage of creating a market for tablet computers like the iPad and being able to deliver a product to its fiercely loyal fan base. Other companies, like Hewlett-Packard, have tried to break into the tablet business but have not been able to knock the iPad from its perch. Hewlett-Packard, of course, made the bewildering decision to cancel its TouchPad tablet this summer, mere weeks after entering the marketplace.

Amazon seems to have been
paying attention to the failings of other iPad competitors. Unlike
previous tablets, the Kindle Fire is not trying to be an iPad clone.
It’s got a much smaller screen than the iPad. It has a much smaller
amount of storage space. It doesn’t have any cameras, so you can’t use
it to take pictures or do video chats. And it only connects the Internet
via WiFi, not the cell phone networks.

But those differences
help make the Kindle Fire distinct — and allow Amazon to offer it for a
much lower price. At $200, the Kindle Fire is in a completely different
league than the iPad and the iPad knock-offs. That price is even $50
cheaper than Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color, a similar device that’s
marketed as an eBook reader. It’s a price that, in these tough economic
times, is going to be a lot more accessible to mainstream consumers.

The San Jose Mercury news is the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and Sun’s sister newspaper.