Competition.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire is a watered down, crippled version of the iPad. In almost every way, Apple’s product is better than Amazon’s 1st generation tablet.

I own both, and I’m comfortable with saying that. Of course, I haven’t returned my Kindle Fire, and I don’t plan on giving it away, either.

I do like the weight of the Kindle Fire while reading, but if that’s all I’m going to use it for, I like the weight of every available e-ink Kindle even more. (That’s a savings of at least another $100.) 

Lodge any of the above criticisms, though, and you’ll likely hear: “Of course, dumbass! The Kindle Fire isn’t meant to compete with the iPad. It’s well under half the price of the cheapest iPad 2, and it was never meant to be anything more than a consumption device for people on the go!”

Someone should probably clue Amazon in on this line of thinking.

Currently, the top hit on Amazon when searching for “iPad” is a link to a chart comparing the Kindle Fire and the iPad 2. (Hat tip to Daring Fireball.)

As far as I can tell, Amazon doesn’t even list the iPad at its selling price of $499 — it starts “new” at $518.75, from various retailers who aren’t Apple. A quick check shows the iPad 2 currently in stock on apple.com, though I suppose it’s possible that it’s not available from Apple, on amazon.com. Sure seems fishy, though.

Back to that chart:

Marco Arment has already posted a pretty great rebuttal, so I’m not going to bother questioning or exploring the validity of Amazon’s arguments, except to say that this doesn’t seem to be the chart of a company that thinks its product isn’t directly in competition with the iPad 2, and better.

No matter how I read it, I’m not getting:

"Hey! We know you might want an iPad 2, but why not save $300 and buy a Kindle Fire instead? It even does some of the things an iPad does! If all you’re interested in is browsing the web and reading some books, you’ll love our Kindle Fire, and you probably don’t need the extra power, or the hundreds of thousands of apps, available with an iPad."

Instead, they’ve produced a feature for feature comparison which seems to argue that much of what the iPad does — both technically and functionally — the Kindle Fire does even better, or at least just as well. For $300 less!

Clearly, Amazon wants potential shoppers to feel like there’s nothing that an iPad 2 can do that the Kindle Fire can’t do just as well, or even better. For a lot less.

Web browsing? Way faster. Cost? Way Cheaper. Screen? Nicer. Apps? No difference! Storage? Less is actually more!

And, just in case you don’t want to take Amazon’s word for it, they’ve helpfully added a smattering of effusive praise from outlets who hadn’t yet spent any meaningful time with the product. Please don’t look at the man behind the curtain!

Amazon’s got every right to promote its product, and even to compare it against a competitor’s product. (Even if it’s arguable that they’re playing a bit loose with context.)

They’d be foolish if they didn’t do so. 

With that said, can we at least drop the idea that it’s unfair to point out the Kindle Fire’s flaws, as compared to the iPad 2? If the comparison is good enough for Amazon, it’s good enough for those who disagree with Amazon’s assessment.

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