When Seattle, Wash.-based Amazon.com announced the Kindle Fire, it’s first e-reader to toe the water as a tablet, there was a lot of speculation that someone had finally one-upped Apple. Costing a mere US$200, and sporting a slimmed-down Android operating system tied in to Amazon’s robust network, it seemed too good to be true.
But as a business device, it might not be there yet. Mike Battista, research analyst for London Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Inc., is doubtful of the Fire’s usefulness as a true business tablet. “(It’s) not that it’s terrible, I’m sure it’s functional for most user,s but you get what you pay for,” he said.
It’s not that he doesn’t like the Fire, he’s just well aware of Amazon’s marketing of it. “Amazon hasn’t really used the word tablet in all their marketing for it,” he said. “I think they’re positioning it more as a Kindle that has tablet functionality.”
That’s an important distinction. Battista sees more feature rich, less constrained tablets – like the iPad – as more fitting that definition. The Kindle Fire, with its customized and stripped-down Android interface, just can’t compete. “Multitasking is limited. It has it but it’s not easy,” he said.
Mikey Rollins, operations manager at Houston-based Nova-Tech International Inc., agreed with Battista. “It has a closed app platform and lacks key functions required for a business,” he said. “One of the main problems is, at the moment, I would need to root the system to load my companies Android apps.”
The other interesting thing about the Kindle Fire is Amazon’s much-hyped Silk browser. Before its release, Amazon claimed it was incredibly fast and slick because of its ties into its own robust service network. Since it’s been released, neither Rollins, nor Battista have heard that was true.
“I’ve even heard complaints about the Web browser,” Battista said. “(Amazon were) supposed to optimize it by using Amazon servers (but) scrolling around, zooming in is not as speedy as it should be.” He said it pales in comparison to the Web experience on other tablets.
Rollins had the same take. “The Web browser is pretty awful,” he said.
Battista’s key complaint about the tablet, however, wasn’t just its sluggish performance, limited app selection or unimpressive browser. He said one of the worst sin the Fire commits is being constrained by its own hardware. “Another big limitation that I’ve seen is that it doesn’t have Bluetooth,” he said. “If you wanted to attach an external keyboard to type anything longer than a quick e-mail, you can’t. I know, with my iPad, I use that all the time.”
In short, “as far as the Enterprise goes, it’s not suitable for that,” Battista said.