By Chris Velazco
Competition in the low-cost tablet space has been heating up for a while now thanks to strong new hardware from the likes of Asus, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), and Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS), but it seems the time has come for the Kindle Fire hucksters at Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) to go on the offensive against a very prominent rival: Apple's iPad mini.
The company has recently given its homepage a facelift with a very prominent comparison between the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD and the iPad mini sitting right at the top. Most of it is pretty tame and points out the disparity in features between the two tablets (ex. the Fire HD sports a higher resolution display and smarter speaker layout than the mini), but the kicker here is the quote Amazon used to drive its point home. It's a brief snippet culled from a Gizmodo post by Brent Rose on Apple's perceived hypocrisy when it came to crafting a smaller tablet:
…your [Apple's] 7.9-inch tablet has far fewer pixels than the competing 7-inch tablets! You're cramming a worse screen in there, charging more, and accusing others of compromise? Ballsy.
For better or worse Amazon lopped off the beginning of that paragraph, which began with "Are. You. F'ing. Kidding. Me." Sort of a shame, methinks - it would've made Amazon's point that much stronger, though I'm pleased as punch to see Amazon allow such a prominent reference to balls on its front page.
It's hardly the first time that Amazon has sought to position its tablets as a strong competitor to the iPad - Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos noted in an interview with AllThingsD that he felt the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD was "the best tablet at any price" - but this move represents a considerable change in tone for Amazon. Then again, this sort of trash-talking seems to be quickly becoming par for the course in the industry - when Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) officially revealed the iPad mini earlier this month, SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller jabbed at smaller tablets (and Google and Asus's own Nexus 7 in particular) by basically crapping on the sorts of experiences that they're capable of delivering.
"Others have tried to make tablets smaller than the iPad, and they've failed miserably," Schiller noted on-stage.
One has to wonder what exactly has prompted Amazon to go on the offensive, and it may be that surging sales momentum may have given the company a shot in the proverbial arm. According to a statement Amazon released on Friday, the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD enjoyed its biggest day of sales since launch on the same day that Apple's iPad mini announcement took place. It went on to note that sales for the Seattle company's tablet lifted "3x week over week" on the day of Apple's event, though exactly what that works out to in numbers is unclear since Amazon tends to be infuriatingly vague when it comes to concrete Kindle sales figures.
With a season of unabashed consumerism nearly upon us, we'll soon see if Amazon's new approach to appealing to would-be tablet purchasers pans out. In the meantime, here's a tip for anyone from Amazon who may be reading this - next time you need an feisty anti-iPad quote or five, you should spend some time checking out our comments section. Pure gold, I'm telling you.