Kindle Fire: "The fruitcake of tablets"

Kindle Fire's marketshare fell by 10 percentage points over the last quarter. But why?

Joe Weisenthal at Business Insider notes an interesting implication of a statistic reported today:


That could simply mean that the Kindle Fire – Amazon's only tablet (e-readers are a different category) –  had strong demand from early adopters, and fell short as that market dried up. But Weisenthal suggests that the alternative explanation is that the Fire:

Is something people will buy as a gift over the holidays, but won't buy themselves to actually use.

It's pretty hard to test that theory, but Weisenthal offers up a load of anecdotal evidence:

Our Jay Yarow owns an iPad, but bought two Kindle Fires as gifts for relatives.

Matt Miller of Bloomberg said the same thing on Twitter.

So did Market Plunger on Twitter.

I can add my own experience to the list: my extended family has four iPads and no Kindle Fires between them, but when we started talking about buying a tablet for my grandfather, a Fire was the default choice (until someone pointed out that they aren't actually out in the UK yet).

Matt Yglesias suggests this is because nobody needs a tablet. If you want a tablet, you want the best one, but because there's nothing pushing you to make the purchase, if you can't afford it, it's fine to wait.

I'm not so sure. Nobody needs chocolate, either, but that doesn't mean Green and Blacks outsells Dairy Milk. I think it's the far simpler reason that the Kindle Fire simply isn't very good. It's not just that no-one needs a tablet - it's that no one who wants a tablet feels that the Kindle Fire is good enough to bother with.

Why, then, buy it as a present? Because it's still a tablet. It's not good enough to want, but it's good enough to give.

A Kindle Fire. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty
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Like it or hate it, it doesn't matter: Brexit is happening, and we've got to make a success of it

It's time to stop complaining and start campaigning, says Stella Creasy.

A shortage of Marmite, arguments over exporting jam and angry Belgians. And that’s just this month.  As the Canadian trade deal stalls, and the government decides which cottage industry its will pick next as saviour for the nation, the British people are still no clearer getting an answer to what Brexit actually means. And they are also no clearer as to how they can have a say in how that question is answered.

To date there have been three stages to Brexit. The first was ideological: an ever-rising euroscepticism, rooted in a feeling that the costs the compromises working with others require were not comparable to the benefits. It oozed out, almost unnoticed, from its dormant home deep in the Labour left and the Tory right, stoked by Ukip to devastating effect.

The second stage was the campaign of that referendum itself: a focus on immigration over-riding a wider debate about free trade, and underpinned by the tempting and vague claim that, in an unstable, unfair world, control could be taken back. With any deal dependent on the agreement of twenty eight other countries, it has already proved a hollow victory.

For the last few months, these consequences of these two stages have dominated discussion, generating heat, but not light about what happens next. Neither has anything helped to bring back together those who feel their lives are increasingly at the mercy of a political and economic elite and those who fear Britain is retreating from being a world leader to a back water.

Little wonder the analogy most commonly and easily reached for by commentators has been that of a divorce. They speculate our coming separation from our EU partners is going to be messy, combative and rancorous. Trash talk from some - including those in charge of negotiating -  further feeds this perception. That’s why it is time for all sides to push onto Brexit part three: the practical stage. How and when is it actually going to happen?

A more constructive framework to use than marriage is one of a changing business, rather than a changing relationship. Whatever the solid economic benefits of EU membership, the British people decided the social and democratic costs had become too great. So now we must adapt.

Brexit should be as much about innovating in what we make and create as it is about seeking to renew our trading deals with the world. New products must be sought alongside new markets. This doesn’t have to mean cutting corners or cutting jobs, but it does mean being prepared to learn new skills and invest in helping those in industries that are struggling to make this leap to move on. The UK has an incredible and varied set of services and products to offer the world, but will need to focus on what we do well and uniquely here to thrive. This is easier said than done, but can also offer hope. Specialising and skilling up also means we can resist those who want us to jettison hard-won environmental and social protections as an alternative. 

Most accept such a transition will take time. But what is contested is that it will require openness. However, handing the public a done deal - however well mediated - will do little to address the division within our country. Ensuring the best deal in a way that can garner the public support it needs to work requires strong feedback channels. That is why transparency about the government's plans for Brexit is so important. Of course, a balance needs to be struck with the need to protect negotiating positions, but scrutiny by parliament- and by extension the public- will be vital. With so many differing factors at stake and choices to be made, MPs have to be able and willing to bring their constituents into the discussion not just about what Brexit actually entails, but also what kind of country Britain will be during and after the result - and their role in making it happen. 

Those who want to claim the engagement of parliament and the public undermines the referendum result are still in stages one and two of this debate, looking for someone to blame for past injustices, not building a better future for all. Our Marmite may be safe for the moment, but Brexit can’t remain a love it or hate it phenomenon. It’s time for everyone to get practical.