Books & Review | Cole Garner Hill
Updated: Nov 19, 2012 02:53 PM EST

Kindle Fire HD

An employee demonstrates the new Kindle Fire HD 8.9" at Amazon's Kindle Fire event in Santa Monica (Photo : Reuters)

As Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas shopping draw nearer, and nearer the battle of the 7-inch tablets is about to hit a fever pitch. And while the fight for dominance over the market may appear far from over with Apple, Amazon, and Google all recently releasing tablets, at least one report thinks the war has already been decided. Amazon's new Kindle Fire HD tablet/e-reader will trounce Apple's iPad mini in sales in a 2 to1 ratio during holiday shopping, according to a report from CouponCodes4u.com.

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According to the Los Angeles Times, CouponCodes4U compared search reports for the two devices within the first week after their launches were announced. They say Kindle Fire HD had more searches in that week after its announcement than iPad mini did in its first week after being announced. Additionally, the site says they have been showing twice as many searches for "Kindle Fire HD" compared to the search phrase "iPad mini" in the past three weeks on its website.

Not necessarily the final word in the Kindle Fire HD vs. iPad mini game, but an interesting research finding, in any case.

The debate over what matters most to tech consumers when decision-making is far from over. The most obvious deciding factor for many shoppers considering the Kindle Fire vs. iPad mini tablet will be the price tag alone. The Kindle Fire HD starts at $199 for the 7-inch device with 16 gigabytes of storage capacity. The new 8.9-inch models start at $299, with the most expensive models selling for $500 or more. These high-end Kindle Fire HD's have the 4g LTE connectivity with an AT&T monthly data plan. Mark Pearson, who is the chairman of CouponCodes4U said of the cost comparisons:

"It's no surprise that although some families would probably love to purchase an iPad mini device for every member of their family, they simply cannot afford the higher cost and would rather purchase a Kindle device instead."

Starting at $329 for the etnry-level mode, the iPad mini is priced much less competitively.

"We were hoping the price would be at least a little lower given its competition is situated as low as $99, with many starting in the $199-$249 range," Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes said in a research note.

Strategy Analytics analyst Peter King, who had also been expecting a $300 price point, says the extra $130 will be enough to sway some buyers toward the Nexus 7, the Kindle Fire family or even Barnes & Noble's $229 Nook HD. But it won't be enough buyers to hinder Apple's momentum.

"Yes, [Apple's competitors] will sell some, their aggressive pricing will definitely appeal to budget-restricted buyers and ensure that they do get some market traction," King wrote in an Oct. 23 blog post. "But given that the market leader, who has already sold 100 million iPads, has now entered the 7-inch area, the bar has been raised again for Google, Amazon and B&N."

In a sign that Apple's stronghold over the tablet market may finally be loosening, the company's share of the tablet market dropped 16 percent in the last quarter alone, according to research firm IDC.

IDC's report shows Apple's 66 percent share fell to 50 percent from the prior three-month period while demand for competing devices from Amazon and Samsung surged.

Worldwide tablet shipments totaled 27.8 million in the period, 50 percent higher than a year earlier, IDC said in a report released Nov. 5. Samsung shipped 5.1 million devices in the third quarter, more than double the number it sold in the previous period, and Amazon's market share increased to 9 percent from 4.8 percent.

According to the report, Apple lost its share due to consumers putting off iPad purchases as they waited for the hyped release of a new model, the iPad mini, which went on sale Nov. 2 with Wi-Fi only versions.

"A sizeable percentage of consumers interested in buying an Apple tablet sat out the third quarter in anticipation of an announcement about the new iPad mini," Tom Mainelli, research director for tablets at IDC, said in the report. "Now that the new mini, and a fourth-generation full-sized iPad, are both shipping we expect Apple to have a very good quarter. However, we believe the mini's relatively high $329 starting price leaves plenty of room for Android vendors to build upon the success they achieved in the third quarter."

More signs Amazon's Kindle Fire HD could trump iPad mini in holiday shopping sales

Amazon's third quarter market share was 9 percent, up from 4.8 percent in the second quarter, surging because the company's new Kindle Fire HD tablet began shipping. And those shipments were only in the U.S. As Amazon starts shipping the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire in November, it'll have a diverse lineup of tablets.

"It's highly likely that Amazon's market share will go double digits---say 12 percent to 15 percent," according to tech site ZDNet.

Things could really begin to snowball when Amazon's Kindle Fire begins shipping internationally. Amazon's market reach is limited when compared to Apple, but the company will have enough distribution to gain share of the market.

Amazon also has a readymade system to promote its new tablet. The retailer can use its home page, its customer lists, and recommendations to push the Kindle Fire HD. The company can also take advantage of the iPad mini's price tag. Amazon can still easily play with lower pricing and balance that against quality features and services.

Specs

Display

Type

7-inches, IPS

Display Resolution

1280 x 800

Touchscreen

Yes

Features

Anti-glare

General

Operating System

Amazon Android

Processor

Processor Texas Instruments, OMAP4460

Processor Clock Speed

1.2 GHz

Number of Cores

Dual-Core

Memory

Flash Memory 16 GB, Integrated

Communications

Wireless Connectivity 802.11 a/b/g/n

Security Protocols & Features

WPA2, WEP, WPA

Bluetooth Profiles

Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP)

EBook Reader

Supported Text Formats

AZW, PRC (Mobipocket), PDF, DOC, TXT, DOCX

Supported Still Image Formats

PNG, JPEG, BMP, GIF

Multimedia

Audio

Microphone, Stereo speakers

Supported Digital Audio Formats

AAC, WAV, OGG, AMR, MP3, MIDI

Expansion and Connectivity

 

Interfaces

USB 2.0, Micro-HDMI, Headphones

HDMI Port

Yes

Battery

Run Time

11 hour(s)

Miscellaneous

Sensors

Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Gyro sensor

Features

Front camera

Cables Included

1 x USB cable

Dimensions & Weight

Width 5.4 in

Depth 0.4 in

Height 7.6 in

Weight 13.9 oz

iPad Mini Specs

You can get an iPad Mini Wi-Fi model in three memory configurations: $329 for 16GB, $429 for 32GB, and $529 for 64GB. On Nov. 16, we'll see Wi-Fi + 4G models go on sale at $459 for 16GB, $559 for 32GB, and $659 for 64GB.

The 1,024x768-pixel resolution matches that of the iPad 2, but on a 7.9-inch display. "This definitely isn't Retina Display, but it's better-than-iPad-2 display. Videos look excellent, and the IPS screen has great wide-viewing angles," said CNET.

Includes a front-facing 720p-capable FaceTime camera, and a 5-megapixel back camera, and also supports 4G LTE, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi at 5.2Ghz, Bluetooth 4.0, and will use Apple's Lightning connector, first seen on the iPhone 5.

Apple claims that the Mini has a 10-hour battery life.

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