Can You Guess the Kindle Fire’s Achilles Heel?


The Kindle Fire is ready to take the world by storm when it is released next month. It is already SO popular that Amazon has reportedly upped the production numbers significantly. The interface looks great. The combination of 8GB of storage (with about 6GB available to the user) is enough for 80 apps, plus 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books. That isn’t anything to sneeze at, but it is not a tremendous amount of storage, and the Fire doesn’t have an expansion slot. [I’m comparing it to the iPad, whose capacity STARTS at 16GB and goes up to a whopping 64GB!] Thankfully, Amazon is leveraging their Cloud Storage to compensate for the diminutive amount of storage.


That’s all good and well; the Fire will work just fine for people who use the device at home or work where WiFi is readily available. And that is key – places where they “have WiFi available”. It is key because the Fire doesn’t have 3G connectivity built-in.

None of this is an issue until you consider this post from Gizmodo: iPads are Why Your Hotel WiFi Sucks and Might Stop Being Free. Yes, the proliferation of WiFi sucking devices like the iPad are killing the current “pipes” hotels have in place. The result is, at best, slow connectivity. Worse, hotels might find themselves needing to provide tiered WiFi with fast speeds costing a bundle. And it is already happening – Elana and I spent time in Atlantic City at the Borgata Water Club this summer. WiFi was advertised as free, but that was for something akin to dial-up. If you wanted usable speeds you had to pay … a lot.

Combine this with the Fire’s reliance on Cloud storage for most of what it can do and … something tells me that people are going to love their Kindle Fire, but only up until they are on a trip. Now before you go slamming me as an Apple fan-boy let me point out that, I ordered a Fire and not for the purpose of ripping it down. I WANT it to be great. I loved the BlackBerry PlayBook’s hardware, and this will combine that hardware with Amazon’s finesse and ecosystem. But a WiFi-only device with limited capacity, when combined with hotels throttling bandwidth is not a good combination. People want something that “just works”, and while the Fire will do that right out of the box, it may not fare as well on the road. You KNEW there was an Achilles Heel to the Fire, and something tells me this just might be it.

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16 replies

  1. You Apple fanboi!  😀

    Having used a couple of 8GB devices I am not terribly worried – but that doesn’t invalidate your point.  You get a 1GB iPod worth of music, all of your books, a bunch of pictures, one local movie, possibly a TV episode or two, and a few dozen apps.  As I say, for me that will work … but I always have other stuff with me.

  2. Lots of people own mobile hotspots, and many phones provide that functionality. People can find a way to get mobile data over WiFi if they really need to.

    • I’m not sure it’s nearly as many people as you might think. Moreover, watching or downloading one of movie will do quite a good job of eating up a lot of your monthly allotment if you are using a mobile hotspot. It really is the main issue with all aspects of going toward cloud computing. Apple’s new iCloud service suffers from similar issues. We are getting more use of the cloud at the very moment that speeds and capacities are being monitored more closely than ever.
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  3. Regarding hotel WiFi service, if that many people are using it, the price should be spread out as part of the cost for a room. Hotels that start nickel and diming for this service or that should see a decrease in business, I would think.

    We are talking about a service that can be bought for $50 per month or so for 24/7 up-time in a home vs. a typical hotel where they’re charging $100 to $150 or more per night for a room. Spread out over a month, with them buying in bulk for that many rooms, you’re probably talking less than $1/day per room.

    There’s no legitimate reason they can’t provide a quality WiFi connection for that amount.

  4. Regarding Amazon’s Cloud service…
    I’m willing to stream a movie I’ve rented, etc., but if I BUY something digital, I want the option of saving a copy on my hard drive without too much hassle. 8GB doesn’t allow for much of that without offloading onto an external drive…not sure if that’s an option with the Fire.

  5. If I get a Fire, it’ll have mostly books and possibly audio books on it…maybe the occasional magazine and crochet and knitting patterns. I dont see myself downloading many movies or tv shows on it.

    I download a lot of tv shows from iTunes. I dont keep every episode on my iPad/iPod Touch. (that’s what my 120gb classic iPod is for)

    When I went on a trip to see a baseball game earlier this summer, I took my iPad and my iPod Touch with me. (took my Touch because I was leaving my Kindle at home that weekend) I ended up using the Touch to watch an episode of Warehouse 13 on the hotel tv while I played games on the iPad. I think I only accessed the internet a couple of times to check email, write an email, and to order a book from Amazon to read on the iPod.  It was kind of nice to not be on the internet ALL THE TIME that weekend like I am at home.  I got out, I socialized, saw a really good baseball game. I wasnt on the internet the whole weekend.

    altho, the baseball stadium I was at, they had free wifi and it was a heck of a lot faster than the hotel’s was. I ended up using it to upload some crappy iPod pictures to my photobucket account and email my dad to tell him the stadium had wifi.

    If people HAVE to have a wifi connection every time they travel, that’s actually kind of sad. If they’re constantly staring at a screen, reading tweets and posting on Facebook, they wont see a whole lot of interesting things that they’ve spent the time and money to travel to.

    I can see business travelers needing to have internet for work…if it’s that important, they should probably pay for it.

    • All good points. I’m excited for the Fire on a lot of levels. It looks to be the first non-iPad to see real consumer adoption… even before it is released. That’a good for everyone!
      But I DO think the combination of just 6GB of user-accessible storage, no expansion slot and WiFi only will be a bigger concern than some (many?) expect. Remember- the first iPhone came in 4GB capacity (and 8GB) and that was before apps. That phone was quickly pulled and capacities sky-rocketed. 6GB when you are talking apps and video is nothing.

      • yeah, I do agree that Amazon is screwing up with only giving people 6 usable gb’s of storage.  Wondering if they did that to keep the price for the Fire as cheap as possible, or if they really thought the Cloud would give people all they need for storage.

        They could have added a microSD slot. Maybe if they release a Fire 2 they’ll do that? That’s if the Fire doesnt extinguish itself.

        I still want a Fire…I love my iPad 2, but it’s heavy and I have health problems that are affecting my hands. Hoping the Fire is a lot lighter and will be easier to hold.  I just havent ordered one yet because I dont have a spare $200.

  6. I think you hit the nail on the head.  My EeePad has 16 GB and a expansion card.  I am good to watch media no matter what the wifi conditions are.  The iPad is the same.  While 8 GB is fine if you only use the Kindle feature, the minute you start adding local video on it that 8 GB isn’t very big. Would have been nice to have a SD card or at LEAST USB to Go for attaching a external storage device.

    • And it isn’t even 8! It is an effective 6

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      • Yeah good point on that.  I just love having the flexibility of the SD Card especially on devices with little on board like the Fire.

        I am also not too sure about the processor it has as well.  It would be ok if you only use it for reading but some apps can be intensive on the processor and video can be problematic as well.  

        I have no doubt that they will sell a lot….but how many will come back to them?

  7. My tip for hotels: bring your own wifi travel router (set to access point mode). I have one from EnGenius that’s about the size of a deck of cards. The signal is only good for about a 15 yard radius, but that’s plenty strong enough for a hotel room.

    I have found it a necessity for any hotel with more than say 20 rooms. That is, only small B&Bs have decent wifi; for everything else, bring your own wifi.

  8. If you want to browse the web, it would be a problem. If you want to access content like books, movies, and TV shows, I suspect most folks could download what they need when they do have good WiFi and use what’s on the device when they don’t.

    • That is, in part, my point. If you want to do that and the Wi-Fi is either too slow, not stable enough or just too expensive you need to plan everything out ahead of time. It just has the potential to be rather inconvenient
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  9. I wonder how long it will be before the revision 2 of the kindle fire comes out with 3G or 4G.  I guess that’s what I’ll keep my eye out for.