The Effect of Kindle having half the Android Tablet Market

Posted on May 9, 2012

According to ComScore, in February 2012 Amazon’s Kindle Fire has over half of the Android tablet market with 54.4% share. The second highest vendor was Samsung with 15.4%.

This clearly shows that the most important Android tablet today is Amazon’s Kindle, and that developers who want to produce an application for an Android tablet should, in most cases, target the Kindle first.

However, there are several caveats to this. The first is that the Kindle is actually a radically different kind of device to a standard Android tablet such as a Samsung Galaxy tab. The Kindle has been designed to be a low-cost content consumption device, particularly for Amazon content such as e-books and movies. Granted, some interaction is required with an ebook, but not as much as in say a graphically heavy game or productivity software.

On the other hand, a standard Android tablet is built to enable users to create as a well as consume content. The low level hardware used in the Kindle Fire cannot provide the same level of performance as, say, the Samsung tablet; and this is far more noticeable when trying to create content.

Hence, although the Kindle Fire gives access to a larger audience, it may not be suitable for all kinds of applications. Those that require better hardware should target the standard Android tablets as their market, or pair down the functionality of the application.

Another thing to consider is that applications sold for the Kindle Fire have to be sold through Amazon’s application store rather than Google’s Play store. This can have good and bad sides to it. Google’s Play Store is not available on the Kindle as it is not a pure-play Android version, rather a forked system.

Amazon, like Apple, controls its app store and decides which applications are featured on the front page of the store. With about only 4,000 applications available, it can be easier to be featured on the Amazon store, whereas with Google Play’s over 200,000 apps, it can be easier to get lost.

Another benefit to the Kindle Fire is that there is no fragmentation of devices and operating systems, so it’s much cheaper to develop for. With Standard Android tablets, there are many devices with different screen sizes, hardware specifications and they run different versions of Android’s operating system with vendor specific interfaces. Building for this variety raises costs.

Hence, if your application concept can work well within the limits of the Kindle Fire, it can make sense to target this platform for your application, given its larger market share and more controlled application store. Otherwise, it would be better to target the standard Android tablet market.