The Kindle Fire will storm Australia in 2012


opinion Prediction: When Amazon’s Kindle Fire launches in Australia next year, it will very quickly become the second most popular tablet locally behind Apple’s dominant iPad, easily eclipsing rival offerings from the likes of Samsung, Motorola, Research in Motion and more.

What basis do I have for making this statement, which would appear to be controversial on a number of levels? Let me count the reasons.

Let’s start with the timing. Although Amazon has not yet confirmed when or if the Kindle Fire will go on sale in Australia, it’s likely that it will launch locally in about six months’ time. Why? Because the company has established a pattern of this kind of launch timing in the past.

The original Kindle was released in November 2007 in the US and never came to Australia. But the Kindle 2, which was released in the US in February 2009, was made available internationally in October that same year. The Kindle DX was released in May 2009, followed by an international launch in January the following year. And the third-generation Kindle was initially announced in August 2010, and shipped internationally at the same time as in America.

Now, normally you’d bet that it would take a while for the manufacturer, Quanta, to ramp up manufacture of this new type of device to scale internationally. The Kindle Fire is qualitatively a different device than the previous e-ink based Kindles, after all — Amazon hasn’t previously sold a touchscreen Kindle with a colour LCD screen.

But in this case, Quanta has already for some time been manufacturing a very similar device, Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook, for international sale for some time. So it shouldn’t be too much of an extension for the company to produce enough Kindle Fires in bulk to meet global demand. The Kindle Fire started shipping to US customers in November. We’d expect it to be available internationally by mid-2012 at the latest.

This brings us to the question of demand.

With companies like Toshiba, Motorola, Samsung and Acer already having launched Android-based tablets in Australia over the past year, and even RIM getting into the action with the PlayBook, what evidence is there that the Kindle Fire will be able to take the number two spot locally behind Apple, when every other company has had such a huge start?

Well, plenty.

For starters, a report from Taipei this week in influential industry journal DigiTimes suggested that Quanta had already shipped between three and four million Kindle Fires to Amazon, with shipments to reach five million units by the end of December or early January. This report dovetails with a report by analyst firm iSuppli that Amazon would ship 3.9 million Kindle Fires in this quarter this year.

Technology industry blog and analyst house GigaOM points out that these sales mean that Amazon will easily become the second-largest tablet supplier in the US — with iSuppli allocating it an estimated 13.8 percent of the market, compared with 4.8 percent from Samsung (whose Galaxy Tab 10.1 device is being blocked in Australia by Apple legal action) and 4.7 percent from Barnes and Noble with its Nook e-Reader — which also isn’t available in Australia.

It’s not quite clear where Motorola fits into the picture with its Xoom tablet, but given the price of the Xoom has been cut in half in Australia just a few months after the device went on sale, I can’t imagine its share of the market — in the US or in Australia — is going to be huge.

Now all of this is extrapolation, of course — none of these figures appear to be direct from Amazon, and perhaps the Australian market is different, after all. However, there is another direct piece of evidence pointing to the Kindle Fire’s imminent popularity in Australia — web traffic.

Several weeks ago Delimiter published the first Australian review of the Amazon Kindle Fire, after we imported one of the devices locally. And reader interest in this article has been huge — at least double that of any other review of a tablet device which we’ve published this year. And that’s only taking the first several weeks of traffic to the Kindle Fire review into account. I would expect our Kindle Fire review to eventually become one of our most popular articles of all time.

Bear in mind that the overwhelming majority of those viewing this review are Australians. They primarily arrive at the page through searching Google for the availability of the new Kindles in Australia. Those searching from other countries will generally pick up international reviews of the Kindle Fire through sites like Engadget or Gizmodo.

Personally, I believe all of this somewhat circumstantial evidence is enough to show that the Kindle Fire will be huge in Australia in 2012.

The only question which remains is why. Why will the Fire become a strong competitor to the iPad in Australia, when the Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab family, Toshiba Thrive, BlackBerry PlayBook and more have all failed to gain scale? It’s simple: Australians do not really see the Kindle Fire as a competitor to the iPad.

Over the past few months since the new Kindles were unveiled (including the Kindle Touch etc), the question I’ve been getting asked by my friends and family about them has not been: “Should I buy an iPad or a Kindle?” The questions have primarily come from people who want to buy a Kindle to jump onto the incredibly powerful eBook revolution which is sweeping Australia right now, but don’t quite know which device to buy. They know they want a Kindle, because that’s what everyone else uses to read eBooks — but they don’t quite know which one out of the new bunch they should buy.

In the mind of many Australians, iPads and Kindles are for two completely different purposes. The iPad basically replaces many of the functions which were previously carried out on a laptop or even a smartphone, while a Kindle (of any kind) is a replacement for physical paper books. Many people are not really that aware that the Kindle Fire can perform many of the same functions as the iPad, or that the iPad can access any Kindle library through the iOS Kindle App.

With this in mind, many people will buy both; while many of those who didn’t want an iPad or an iPad alternative will buy a Kindle Fire to get access to eBooks. This is the genius of Amazon’s Kindle strategy: It’s not positioning itself as an iPad alternative. And this is why it will succeed in taking a huge slice of Australia’s tablet market next year — because many people won’t see it as one.

Image credit: Amazon.


  1. I really don’t see the Kindle Fire as a tablet though. It’s an eReader with tablet like features.

    • And I’d say the reason why most people don’t know it can do more than view books is because its marketed as an eReader and is carrying an eReader name

        • So really it’ll become Australia’s number 1 eReader but because of it’s tablet like features it can be classed as a tablet and by default fall in as number 2 tablet.

          I’m still undecided if I should get a tablet or not. As my phone can do many things already and Android is really ramping up hardware wise with what’s coming up for phones.

          I might end up getting something like the Kindle Fire to fill the void that a 4″ screen can’t fill.

          • “So really it’ll become Australia’s number 1 eReader but because of it’s tablet like features it can be classed as a tablet and by default fall in as number 2 tablet.”

            Something like that :)

            It depends what you would use a tablet for. I do a stack of RSS feed reading, emailing and other content consumption such as ABC iView on my iPad. But the screen glare is awful for reading actual books, so I do that on a 3G Kindle with e-ink. I have a Fire, but I’m about to sell it because I won’t use it.

  2. Hah. My parents asked me that exact question the other day – “Should I get an iPad or a Kindle?”

  3. Renai,

    While I agree with you on potential demand for Kindle Fire if it launched locally, and that it really targets a different market than the iPad, I’m not so sure that it would launch in Australia anytime soon.

    Kindle Fire’s selling point is the content ecosystem built around it. Not only books (which are admittedly much easier to read on the e-ink versions) but TV shows, movies, music, etc.

    In the US (and the UK, where the Kindle Fire will launch in 2012), Amazon has a great presence and distribution channels around these. With Amazon Prime, the Kindle Fire is a very tempting mobile media consumption device. But Amazon’s content ecosystem just isn’t available in Australia (other than Books of course). The MP3 store, which launched many years ago, hasn’t launched here. If Amazon hasn’t been able to (or hasn’t bothered with) securing rights from ARIA, I have much less faith in them licensing TV shows and Movies in Australia.

    Securing distribution rights for different countries is a legally time consuming, tedious, and expensive task. Amazon has physical presence in 6 countries in the world: US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. I would expect the priority to be with these countries in terms of securing rights and launching the Kindle Fire, than with a relatively small market like Australia in which Amazon doesn’t really have a local presence.

    • Perhaps, but I’m not seeing a stack of demand for non-book content on any tablet. Sure, people are reading magazines, newspapers and so on through various apps, but I haven’t seen a huge movement towards these as I have seen through books. Music is solved through iTunes and I don’t think people really want to buy movies and TV shows through the Kindle Fire for now. I think books is enough; and there isn’t much gap between the Australian and US Kindle eBook stores at the moment, especially for anything new.

      I honestly don’t see the non-book content issue as a biggie.

  4. Sorry, I predict it will be much longer before the Fire appears anywhere but the US. The reason? Simply demand is so great in the US that they will have trouble coming up with the units to sell elsewhere. Not until the demand is sated in the US market will you see the Fire for sale anywhere else.

    • Perhaps; but that’s not what happened with the previous Kindles, and it seems as if Quanta would have some pretty good manufacturing capacity by now.

      • Really? That’s interesting, cause as the owner of both, a Kindle Fire and an e-ink Kindle 4, I think the e-inks are much better at reading books than the LCD screen. The battery life, the weight, the price, the outdoor readability… everything is just in favour of e-inks when it comes to books.

        Anything other than a book though, and the e-ink falls pathetically short. That’s where the Kindle Fire comes into play.

        And I think Amazon has already solved the “people really want to buy movies and TV shows through the Kindle Fire for now” with Amazon Prime. It’s actually the one subscription service that works.

        I can assure you, there is zero chance of Amazon launching the Kindle Fire in a country where there is no Amazon Prime.

          • Heh no worries, I worked it out ;)

            It will be interesting to see. You’re possibly right about Amazon Prime — I agree that Amazon will be thinking this way. But there is so much demand … they might override it etc. Their priority at the moment is clearly in conquering the UK market; I’m not sure how much effort they will be able to put into an Amazon Prime for Australia.

  5. I agree mostly with your prediction, but one reason the Kindle Fire has been such a success in the US is the access to the Amazon Prime streaming content library – TV shows, films. This puts it in the same league as the iPad-iTunes combo as a device for consuming content (apart from ebooks).

    This won’t be available in Australia any time soon, if at all, so this takes away one of the major selling points of the Kindle Fire (in the US).

  6. No ePUB natively. So buy the best available android tablet, load up Amazon kindle and Google Books and you have the best of both worlds. Saves trying to hack a device to get it to do something it was suppose to do natively.

    • Hi

      Forgive my ignorance, but what do you mean by “load up Amazon KIndle and Google Books” onto another android tablet? I am looking into buying an e book reader and was initially interested in the upcoming Kindle Fire, but did not realise that the available content was restricted in Australia (due to lack of Amazon Prime). Also, did you have a recommendation for best android tablet? I have done a little research and it seems the best buy is the Kindle with wi-fi (I don’t really need 3G). But, I was concerned about lack of ePub compatibility. I would appreciate some advice.

      • I just purchased a kindle fire from amazon and im from australia… cost $196 AUD and im getting it shipped to hopshogo which is a company that sends items to you that companies wont allow international shipping, like the kindle… and to avoid the issue with not being able to buy items because im not in the US i heard you can buy gift cards and they will work… just give a fake address as they never send things to you.

    • And if you ask me which tablet in the best – Asus, I have the first model transformer and read from Kindle, Kobo , have access to several others applications, but haven’t used them. There is no document type I haven’t been able to open, it even creates docs that instantly convert to Word. Latest model the Prime has quad core processor and they just announced a 7″ to directly compete with the Fire. Why Asus didn’t get a mention in this article is beyond me when they have the most advanced Android tablet on the market. Having said that would consider a Fire for my Mum though as an e-reader with internet access to read emails is all she requires and like the idea of the Kindle Library to borrow from

  7. i don’t think it will make much of an impact on the australian market.
    not unless amazon opens up the features that will be unavailable on the device when it hits the aussie market. (which is pretty much every feature besides books)

  8. After living in the UK and moving to Aus I am extremely disappointed in Amazons presence here, makes me realise I took it for granted a bit in the UK.
    A kindle fire would be a no-brainer in the UK and USA however I’m not sure the Amazon marketing team have even heard of Australia.

  9. Any more info on what does and does not work with the Kindle Fire in Australia? I am faily new to this wand wanted to get one for my sister who is a total book geek! I’m really keen on ordering one for her for Christmas. There’s a helpful article at which kind of explains how to get one in Australia now. My questions are:

    1. Has anyone used HopShopGo?
    2. For those Aussies who already have one here, what does and does not work – keeping in mind my sister is a bookworm – not a nerd!

    Any help appreciated/

    JT :-)

  10. Hi jai, I bought one through and it arrived in less than two weeks. You can buy books from the kindle store, browse the web via a wifi connection, load music and movies manually and use the limited apps which were preinstalled. In the article above is a link to delimeters helpfull review which covers all of these features. I love mine :)

  11. Have you checked ebook prices lately? HarperDigital have magically increased their title prices at Amazon so that they are .50–.60 cents more expensive to Australians than at Google, A&R, Kobo and Apple.

    Check prices on Stephen King, J D Robb, Mary Stewart, Steve Jobs biography etc. Won’t that impact on potential sales of the Fire?

  12. I’d been wanting an e-reader for quite some time and when I saw Amazons Kindle Fire I decided I’d get one as a Christmas present.
    The thing that appealed to me was that it’s primarily an e-reader with lots more capabilities, such as watching movies, internet connectivity and listening to music (no more I-Pod).
    I ordered one from an E-Bay seller in the US as they weren’t being sold direct from Amazon. The US reseller was also much cheaper than an Australian reseller.
    I received the device in around 3 weeks and love, love, love it. It’s easy to use and easy on the eyes as the text is larger than a conventional book. It’s also smaller in width than a book.
    The cost of purchasing an e-book through Amazon is cheaper than other companies and is easy with just one click.
    All in all I’m sold. It’s definitely a winner for me.

  13. I live in aus and got a kindle fire for my birthday last year. We had it shipped to my cousin in the Usa and they sent it here! I am absolutely in love with my kindle fire and I strongly believe it is SO MUCH BETTER THAN AN IPAD! I had an ipad and as soon as I got this I got rid of it! At the moment we cant get apps of any kind until its released here but I am without a doubt kindles biggest abasider as I have swayed so many friends to get the kindle fire instead of the ipad!!!
    Love it

  14. Its simple why the Fire will be hugely popular in Australia…at $200 i can buy 4 Fires for the same amount as I bought my iPad, which makes it a far more attractive option for parents buying a gift for their children and is far more a achievable amount to reach for a child who is saving for a tablet. Never mind the fact that I don’t want my 8, 9 or 10 year olds playing with an $800 ‘gadget’. I absolutely believe the Fire is a direct competitor to the iPad in the kiddie market, but not a competitor to the kindle e-readers. I am a devoted fan of the kindle reader and wouldn’t think to swap it for a Fire or an iPad for that matter. I love my iPad, and I love my kindle e-reader, but I can’t wait to buy each of my 3 girls a Fire to use on our long road trips and as an alternative to in-car DVDS and DS players.

    Hurry up Amazon and bring all the kindle products down under ASAP!!!

  15. Hello,
    If you are in Oz do not buy Kindle Fire,
    Awesome product but nothing will work in oz
    Luv it, but it is useless
    IPAD killer not

    • It’s not useless, The ONLY feature that doesn’t work is the appstore purchasing ~ At The Moment.
      The Bookstore is fully functional, The web browser and email is fully functional and the pre-installed apps work great.

    • to avoid the issue with not being able to buy items because im not in the US i heard you can buy gift cards and they will work… just give a fake address as they never send things to you.

  16. With iPad3 on the horizon in March, I think Kindle Fire missed the boat in Australia. Unfortunate. I will stick to my good old Kindle for now (and for books, e-ink is better anyway than Fire or iPad screen).

  17. Kindle FIRE just arrived and granted, there is very little available for purchase from Amazon in the Australian region. Having said that, there are some good articles on how to download your own MP4 videos, movies, etc to the Kindle. Its a gorgeous tablet, but my suggestion would be definitely buy a cover for it – it looks very fragile.

    • Justine, I’d love to hear more feedback on the Fire. I agree with your earlier comment on the attraction of a $200 tablet for kids. I have 2 girls who love their online games, both educational and recreational, and I see this as a potential purchase for them (and at that price, one each). They are also avid readers. They love reading on my Kindle. Without the e-ink I think you would lose a lot of the pleasantness when reading on the Fire, so if you have anything to share about that, I would be most grateful! With rumours of the release of the next model, it’s tempting to wait til then.

  18. My daughter loves it! If you register all your kindle devices under the one name, all purchases can be shared between them (books). As I said, there is very little available to download other than books, but there are ways around it. Definitely buy covers and screen protectors when you order it as even those can’t be shipped yet to Australia. The size is perfect for the kids and so far, so good. Just waiting for amazon to release mor content.

    • Thanks! So even though I can’t buy the kindle in Australia, I can put what limited content that I can buy via my Kindle eReader onto a Kindle Fire and it will work on the device…..?

  19. Just bought a fire – great!
    Loved the ease of use. While some Amazon Store stuff not available to Ausie customers (Muic, video) you can save your own MP# music and MP4 movies to the kindle and view them through the Galary app.
    Very happy vegimite

  20. I have just found out about Kindle’s. I would love a Kindle Fire and I just tried to buy one from Amazon and they would not ship to my address (WA) I sent an email and they have said they do not send internationally. I have read everything everyone has written but I just want to make sure I have got this right.

    Kindle Fire will not download movies, music and apps from Amazon while you are in Australia.

    Kindle Fire will download books while you are in Australia.

    Can you please tell me if that is correct? If it is am I better off buying a Kindle Touch so all I do is read books?

    • Karina,

      My daughter has a Fire. If you just want an E-Reader, then you may as well stick with one of the other Kindles – but if you want something more “tablet-y” and you are willing to do a bit of fiddling around, you can actually get the Fire up and running the same as if you were in the States.

      Let me just say this first – This is a $200 tablet. It does not have the screen size, the camera, or the memory of an iPad (or other $600 tablet). Because it is NOT an iPad, and it is NOT $600. I just want to make that clear, because when I read people’s grumbles about the Fire on the Amazon site, 95% of them are disappointed that for their $200 they didn’t get something as fancy as the iPad!!!

      But back to the fiddling. I won’t go into all sorts of details here, because there are a few steps and you may not end up getting one anyway. But I’m happy to walk you through it if you do.

      In a nutshell – 1) set up a US mail forwarding address. You get the Fire sent to them, and they ship it to you.
      2) Install an alternative launcher – forget anything you see about rooting the device. It’s not necessary. The launcher is sufficient.
      3) set up a US Amazon account. I had my friend in the US set it up for me, using a Hotmail address that she also set up for me in the US – but I’m not sure how necessary it is for the Hotmail address to actually be created from a US IP address.
      4) Get a US pre-paid credit card. You’ll need to send through ID and pay a fee – about $15 I think. You use this as your “method of payment” in your Amazon account, along with your US address.
      5) Off you go! Your Amazon account then thinks you are in the US, and therefore you can do anything you could do in the US. Well, as far as I can tell you can. It certainly does enough for me – full access to apps (free and paid) and e-books and internet access. I don’t try to download movies or music, but if you are interested, I will certainly give it a go for you.

      • Melanie

        Thank you so very much for your advice. I have slept on it and I defiantly think I need a Kindle Fire :o)

        I have some work colleges in the US that might be able to help me with my address etc so I will ask them and see how I go. If I could ask a huge favour could you please try and download a movie. If that works then I will go full steam ahead otherwise I might just stick to the Kindle touch :o)

        Thank you so much

  21. What if I have a UK account and address and buy it from the UK, will I be able to download music/movies on the fire if I bought from in Australia? Can anyone help?

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