Update – June 2013
I cringe a little bit when I read this now. At the time, I was feeling super bitter towards Google because of their refusal to release the Honeycomb source code. Also, every Android tablet on the market was horrible. Since then, Google has done a much better job of pushing AOSP updates in a timely fashion, and Android hardware manufacturers have stepped it up as well.
My current tablet is a Nexus 7, and my current phone is a Nexus 4 :p
Amazon didn’t announce what I hoped they would announce. I’m not surprised, but it’s still a little disappointing. The question now is how they will remain in control of their own destiny moving forward. Android developers are not going to be writing applications against the 2.1 API forever. And the source code shenanigans with Honeycomb make it clear that it would be a mistake for Amazon to depend solely on a second about-face from Google in order to keep their platform up to date and current over the next few years. That’s why a clean break made some sense to me, even though it would have been difficult to pull off.
The good news is that the Kindle Fire doesn’t have to have a ton of features in order to be a huge success. I think that it is going to sell ridiculously well and will be the first non-iPad tablet to garner any sort of market share that doesn’t look like a statistical anomaly. Compare their position with the average Android tablet and the way that they both stack up to the iPad:
Android: Our hardware looks worse, feels worse, is more poorly constructed, bulkier, and made primarily of plastic. Our operating system is so buggy that the message we sent to our biggest group of supporters and proponents was that it was too rushed and unfinished to open the source code (though they could have helped us improve this state of affairs if we accepted source contributions, and despite the fact that this made us an even bigger Judas than Dylan was when he picked up an electric guitar). We have fewer applications and the ones that we do have are not competitive in terms of quality and polish. Our battery doesn’t last as long. Finally, we charge exactly the same price and sometimes, inexplicably, slightly more.
Amazon: Our hardware is literally $300 cheaper than an iPad.
I think the latter is going to prove to be a little easier for consumers to process. This thing is going to be out of stock for months and months and months.