Amazon's Fire no iPad killer, experts say

'No reason for Apple to worry' about $199 tablet

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But both Milanesi and Gottheil acknowledged that Amazon will be the most serious threat Apple has yet faced in the tablet market. And they each cited Amazon's content-selling capabilities as the reason.

"I think this really proves the point that an end-to-end concept is the right one," Milanesi said. "It's not just about the hardware," she added, something that Apple has proven. "It's all about the right ecosystem."

White was more pessimistic about the Fire's chances of unseating the iPad as the tablet leader.

"Essentially, we believe the Kindle Fire addresses a different market than the iPad 2, a tablet-light user on a tight budget that may not have yet purchased a tablet or already use a Kindle," he said.

Longer term, however, Gottheil was ready to predict that Apple will answer the Fire with its own 7-in. tablet, and price that version of the iPad lower than the current 10-in. model. "Apple will have a seven-inch iPad that will be less expensive, but not at the totally lower price point of $200," said Gottheil. "That's not in the company's philosophy."

Milanesi agreed.

"Apple won't match Amazon's price point, it will continue to be a premium product," she said. "But at some point, they'll have to offer price points [under the current $500]."

Gottheil stood by his prognostication even after being reminded that former Apple CEO Steve Jobs said last year that the company would never do a smaller iPad.

Last October, Jobs pooh-poohed the smaller Android tablets that were then starting to appear.

"There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touch screen," he said at the time. "We think the current crop of seven-inch tablets are going to be DOA. Their manufacturers will learn the painful lesson that their tablets are too small and increase the size next year."

"Yes, basically he said there was a size below which they won't go," acknowledged Gottheil. "But he said that because Apple didn't, and doesn't, have a 7-in. tablet."

But White countered by knocking the Fire's size, other hardware limitations and what he called a "tired" interface.

"We find the seven-inch screen too small for a tablet device, previously highlighted, while the lack of a 3G connection will keep consumers confined to a Wi-Fi world," said White.

Amazon is now taking pre-orders for the Fire from U.S. buyers on its website, but won't start shipping the tablet until Nov. 15.

More tablet info

The table below shows the most recently announced tablets as reported by Computerworld. Click a tablet's name in the leftmost column to read a news story or review with more information about the device, or view a larger table with more details about each product.

Table created by Computerworld staff using Zoho Creator.

The $200 Android tablet will join a crowded market dominated by Apple's iPad.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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