When we first learned about the iPad, it was promoted as a content consumption device. Given the iPad’s on-screen keyboard that can be challenging for typing a lot of words, I can understand the emphasis on content consumption. However, when you turn on an iPad what you see is a grid of icons that don’t translate to content. In contrast, when you turn on the Amazon Kindle Fire content is front and center. Some might say it is the true content consumption device.
Millions of people will be turning on the Kindle Fire for the first time during this holiday season, and what they will see smack in the middle of the screen is a carousel of content, be it books, music albums, movie and television show graphics, web pages, documents, or apps. Along the top of the screen you see a row of options starting with Newstand, Books, Music, Video, Docs, Apps, and Web. Tapping each option opens a different section that focuses on that type of content.
For someone who has been using an iPad or an Android tablet, using the Kindle Fire feels a bit like running a personal computer on which all you saw were documents and web pages and no apps. The Kindle Fire is about what you do with a tablet rather than the apps you use to complete those tasks. It is not for the power user who wants to fiddle with settings and organize apps into folders.
The Apps section is a grid of icons with a bookshelf graphic for a background, and you cannot group apps into folders nor can you move app icons around in the section, although you can sort apps by most recent used and by title. The lone section that a user can customize on the Fire is the Favorites, which are rows of icons that appear immediately below the carousel on the home screen. You can add any item to the favorites and re-arrange the order of the items in the rows.
My first impressions have focused on the Fire’s home screen and how one uses the Fire because I think they set the Kindle Fire apart from other tablets. You can talk about the Fire’s performance, which I have found to be as good as any other Android device I use, it’s nice physical design that I think is simplistically elegant, or it’s very affordable price, but I think the Kindle Fire could redefine how one thinks about a tablet.
I think Amazon has done a wonderful job of putting emphasis on what one does with a tablet versus what a tablet can do, and in some ways has taken a step ahead of Apple in doing so. I am looking forward to seeing what happens after the Kindle Fire gets in the hands of millions of users.