Amazon Kindle Fire 2: Lead, Follow or Wander

Follow he leaderGoogle had released the Nexus 7, its opening salvo in the content consumption 7-inch tablet market. Apple is rumored to be almost ready to release a 7.85-inch iPad. What will Amazon have to do to secure the future of the Kindle Fire?

We watched as the Kindle Fire drove a tank through Apple’s defenses during the Christmas 2011 holiday. Then, of course, because of the limited nature of the device, relegating it to the status of a gift item or holiday novelty, it couldn’t stand the test of time.

Then Google came out with a much more powerful, capable Nexus 7 tablet. (Here is the spec comparison.) And yet, the Nexus 7 isn’t perfect. There seem to be some minor manufacturing QC issues. And this week, Jason Perlow writes, “I’ve found the camera and the microphone on the Nexus 7 to be completely unsatisfactory for using Skype and other VOIP/video conferencing apps, so anything Amazon can do to upstage Google and other manufacturers on this front would be well-received.”

So it sets up to be a fight for second place, behind Apple’s iPad 7. But more explicitly, Amazon has a big choice ahead. Build a Kindle Fire 2 that can set the world on fire and go toe-to-toe with the other competitors, or be saddled with a loser. Or throw in the towel. It’s not an easy proposition.

Amazon got some traction at launch because of the price point, but that led to serious engineering compromises. (Never mind that it lost money.) The Kindle 2 is where we’ll discover if Amazon has the engineering acumen to both compete on price, preserve its niche in the market, yet up its game sufficiently so that the Nexus 7 and iPad 7 don’t relegate it to the dustbin of history.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Amazon does. Mr. Perlow explores all that in the article I’ve referenced below.

Tech News Debris

“Where Lion stumbled, Mountain Lion regroups and forges ahead.” That’s the tag line of John Siracusa’s magnum opus on OS X Mountain Lion. This is everything you might need to know about Apple’s newest OS release, and it’s a worthy effort. Carve out some free time for: “OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion: the Ars Technica review.

Have you ever wondered how, when the Internet was young, email names came to have the structure they do — with that ubiquitous ‘@’ symbol? Here’s the story: “Meet the Man Who Put the ‘@’ in Your E-Mail.

From time to time, one sees stories about how Apple would mightily like to remove the Home button from iDevices. I think the myth goes back to a discussion about how Steve Jobs hated buttons and moving parts. (To wit, the power “button” on the Apple G4 Cube.) However, there are, it seems, powerful ergonomic and psychological reasons for having a physical Home button. Rene Ritchie makes a very strong case: “Why Apple won’t be ditching the Home button any time soon.

Carve out some time for this one also. The popular science fiction author, Charlie Stross, has written an interesting essay on ubiquitous computing, based on his recent talk in Munich. It all starts with Koomey’s Law… “How low (power) can you go?” The discussion is fascinating, including a discussion of lifelogging — recording everything we do in our entire life. With associated legal and social consequences. (How will Google glass fit into all that? - JM) This is a good discussion by Mr. Stross.

Yesterday, I saw a cute advertising slogan. “Lead, follow or just wander around.” Is Amazon wandering around with the Kindle Fire? What will the Kindle Fire 2 have to do to set the world on fire? Or, ahem, merely hold its own against the (rumored) Apple iPad 7 and the Nexus 7. Jason Perlow puts the question to Amazon. “Kindle Fire 2: Disrupt the Nexus 7 or get out of the way.

By the way, I am no longer calling the rumored 7.85 inch iPad the “iPad mini.” I never liked that name. From now on, I’m calling it the “iPad 7”. Now that we have the “new iPad,” there won’t be any confusion. For awhile, anyway.

Okay, how do I get an Apple segue here. Ah, Pixar, that’s it. It turns out that Mike Senna, a California robotics enthusiast, has built a real, working WALL-E robot. Imagine the possibilities for a new, related sci-fi movie.


Image Credit:  Nest

Finally, recall that former Apple employee Tony Fadell left to create the Nest thermostat. Here’s the first review I’ve seen. “A thermostat that learns? Three months with the Nest


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