Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Let the battle begin!

Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Apple have all now announced their tablets for the Christmas market. Finally the iPad has some serious competition. Here are my thoughts.

Kindle Fire

Amazon is a strange beast. It doesn't seem to care about making profits and yet the stock market loves it - giving it a crazy valuation. It doesn't even make sense to talk about the PE ratio as Amazon is not profitable at the moment! The revenue keeps increasing at an impressive rate but how long is Amazon going to be in "invest for the future" mode?

Amazon is selling the Kindle Fire at cost and yet Jeff Bezos has stated that he does not like the "razor and blades" business model. Huh?

The Kindle Fire is cheap but will only be available in markets where customer are able to download movies from Amazon. It will not be a global seller like the iPad. Essentially it is a media consumption device.

There is one aspect of the tablets' specifications that I want to focus on: screen shape. 4:3 is great for surfing and games. 16:9 is great for movies. The Kindle Fire 7 HD has a resolution of 1280 X 800 for a 16 : 10 aspect ration so as expected is better for movies than surfing.

So the Kindle Fire is great for watching movies. But do people really want to watch movies on a 7 inch screen? If you just want to read then you get the cheaper Kindle.

Hmmm. The Kindle Fire may be cheap but I don't really want one.

Google Nexus

Google has just announced the Nexus 10 - more pixels than the iPad 3 at a cheaper price - £319 in the UK. I haven't seen any reviews of the Nexus 10 yet but I think it will be hamstrung by the weak Nexus brand and the fact it is running Android.

The screen shape is the same as the Kindle Fire - best for movies.

Google will sell some Nexus 10s, especially to tech-heads, but I don't think this will be a living room favourite.

Microsoft Surface

At least no one can accuse Microsoft of copying Apple with the Surface. It is a hybrid device really - half tablet and half PC. It is priced the same as the full size iPad. However to seriously use the bundled Office applications you will need a cover which will set you back another $100.

The target market for the Surface seems to be students - people who can't afford two computers so need a tablet / PC hybrid that can be used for work and fun.

The eternal problem with hybrids is that they don't do anything really well. The Surface isn't going to be as useful as a laptop thanks to its smaller screen and keyboard. It isn't going to be as fun as an iPad as it is bigger and doesn't have the apps.

Finally the screen aspect ratio is 16 : 9. I really dislike this screen shape - the screen is either too wide or too narrow depending on which way round you hold the tablet.

Microsoft will sell quite a few tablets but they will probably by cannibalising their own PC market rather than the iPad market.

The Surface was a necessary step for Microsoft and they should be applauded for doing something a bit different. However I don't want one.

Apple iPad

Apple does it again. The first reviews of the iPad Mini are out and it look like a hit. The small size and weight are a huge bonus apparently. The only negative is the non-retina display but this is only a problem to people used to HD displays.

It has the apps. It has the right screen shape.

Apple also doubled the speed of its full size iPad while keeping the price the same.

I want one. The only question is which one?


The Kindle Fire is one-dimensional, the Nexus 10 is obscure, the Surface is weird and the iPad is desirable.

As for me I keep buying into AAPL as fast as I can!


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