Amazon.com (News - Alert) says more than four million Kindles were sold during the month of December 2011, making Kindle products the top one, two and three products on Amazon “best seller” charts. The new Kindle Fire was ranked first, the Kindle Touch second and the Kindle third.
What those figures should indicate is that although some believe a tablet “must” use a 10-inch screen, consumers do not necessarily agree. Some might argue that a multi-purpose device that can function as an e-reader or tablet is not really a “tablet,” but Amazon’s “Fire” seems to straddle the e-reader and tablet categories well enough that is logical to refer to it as a tablet with a seven-inch screen, even though it also is designed to function as an e-reader. Device form factors
It is starting to look as though there is room in the market for tablets of various form factors, though some might reasonably argue that the price differential between an Amazon Fire and an Apple (News - Alert) iPad is driving sales of the Fire. Optimal size, weight
As sometimes is the case, product niches can exist, within a single category. In principle, as desktop PCs have some roles, while notebooks and tablets have other roles, so “tablets” in turn might develop segments. “Price” might be one of the dimensions, with Apple aiming to occupy the “premium” position at the top of the market.
But form factor will be an issue as well. If e-book functions are a key application, some will not that a 10-inch device “gets heavy” when reading in bed, for example, or when reading in any other setting where there is no tabletop to use as a platform.
There might also be a different niche for users who mostly will use tablets in a living room or office, and a different niche for users who expect they will have to carry a tablet, notebook and smart phone on a frequent basis when travelling, for example. What is best form factor?
It might have made sense to debate the “best” form factor earlier in market development when manufacturing decisions had to be made. But the Kindle Fire, which some will note is the first Android (News - Alert)-based device to sell in large volumes, compared to the Apple iPad, indicates that there are large markets for both seven-inch and 10-inch devices.
Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves