Tech coverage of the Amazon Fire has been interesting to watch. As usual, it's split in three distinct camps-"It's the iPad KILLER!!!" (lord, I hate that term), "It's never going to succeed and will destroy Amazon" and the moderate "It's an interesting device that will be successful but doesn't really compete with the iPad".
This time around, there seems to be a higher percentage in the last camp-a refreshing change from device launches past, and even much of the Apple press seems to understand exactly what the Fire is aimed at and how it fits into the big picture of devices, ecosystems and usage. However, there are still those fringes...
For my part, I think this is a great device and finally offers and iPad alternative (note, I didn't say competitor) that can be successful:
-Amazon has an ecosystem that can compete with Apple's for content.
-It's priced in an entirely different category.
-It's aimed at slightly different use cases (apps are a secondary concern, but it CAN run them).
-The previous success and customer base of the Kindle
In short, they are really the first alternative to effectively answer the questions of "why would I buy this instead of an iPad" (and have an answer other than "but it runs FLASH! Sure, it runs it badly, but still...FLASH!!!).
As others have pointed out, this is competing in a different space from the iPad-Apple keeps the premium area (in both functionality and price) and the Fire is more conservative in functionality and price-and to be sure, there is a market for that.
As for the discussion about how Amazon is going to make any money on this, I'm sure this is going to be very profitable. Regardless of making any revenue on the hardware, Amazon has essentially created a digital menu for it's products and media that consumers can use anywhere and anytime they like. Oh, and it happens to do a few other things as well.
Welcome to the party, Amazon-thanks for finally figuring out how to do it right and find your own space.