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The Kindle Fire: A Status Update

The Kindle Fire: A Status Update

The Amazon Kindle Fire is a device like no other. Touted by Amazon as a low-priced iPad killer, it has carved out quite a niche for itself in the seven months since its release. Looking back to November of last year, it seemed like no single Android tablet would ever be able to pull significant market share from Apple’s flagship tablet. Yet not only has the Fire succeeded in doing just that, but it has managed to create a very dedicated following here on XDA. Let’s take a look at what’s been going on.

Development

Root for the Kindle Fire happened here on XDA very quickly. Even the fact that Amazon opted not to include the standard Google Applications was overcome rather quickly. It was the bootloader and recovery that took some time. Wanting to keep their device “unique” (or as my mother would say, “special”), Amazon took a very different stance on development. Where as most companies like HTC and Samsung simply lock their bootloaders and claim your warranty is void if you unlock it (which is not true), Amazon decided to include a bootloader that could not be unlocked at all and did not allow for any sort of real development.

This necessitated that not only a custom recovery partition be fabricated, but also a custom bootloader. The primary bootloader used by most users is the FireFireFire bootloader which has gone through a myriad of developers supporting it since inception and was covered by our own ConanTroutman back in April. Currently a dual-boot version is under the support of XDA Senior Member eldarerathis and can be found here

To go along with this is the fact that Kindle Fire users now have the luxury of an Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) ROM, thanks to XDA Recognized Developer hashcode. The ROM is almost completely functional, despite a few minor issues and being in beta. For those of you on the Fire who are looking to use this or if you’re a developer wishing to contribute, head on over to the original thread and have a crack at it.

Sales Numbers

One of the interesting tactics employed by Amazon, was rather than trying to go head to head with the iPad in terms of power and hardware, they opted to go with an above average hardware system and a much lower price point of $199. This enabled them to capture the market for those who wanted to own a nice tablet, but were on the fence due to the relatively high price points. It was a tactic that paid off.

According to iSuppli, from Q3 to Q4 last year, Amazon went from no sales and 0% market share to selling 3.8 million tablets and capturing 14% market share. Apple on the other hand dropped from 64% of the overall market share in Q3 to 57% in Q4. While many will point out that the iPad is still the dominant tablet on the market, the fact that a single Android tablet would be able to sell as well as it did, especially from a company who had never released a full Android tablet before, is a testament to the quality of both the Kindle Fire and it’s production team. In fact, the very same tactic employed by Amazon is being capitalized on by Google with the $199 starting price point for their own Nexus 7.

Please Stop Writing Already. We Get That the Kindle Fire is Awesome

With the Kindle Fire turning one year old in November, rumors are abounding on the internet as to the specifications of the next version. Also, with Google’s flagship Nexus 7 shipping out and development well under way, it will be interesting to see if future versions of the Fire will be able to stay relevant in a world where tablet manufacturers are stepping up their game. Of course, that’s a story for another article.

One thing is for sure though: don’t count Amazon out of the race just yet.

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