Like the smartphone, the tablet computer is shifting how we interact with business applications. The Kindle Fire from Amazon offers business owners a way to get more done with a small portable computer at a very affordable price point.
Amazon provided a Kindle Fire loaner unit for this review so I could integrate it into my workflow over four weeks. If you are a business owner who needs more computing power from your mobile device, this review is for you.
Last year the Kindle Fire was all the rage for the consumer Holiday season, but many small business owners bought one with dual purpose in mind: personal use and testing for business. Why would a business consider this small tablet computer?
There are loads of reasons to use this device in a business, but here are two that come to mind:
1.) It is powerful and functional for basic web tasks. You can check email, visit websites, and I could see them in training environments to share educational videos.
2.) You could use it as a presentation device out in the field as the screen is big enough to see most details (compared to that smartphone you may be carrying and squinting at). At least three point of sale (POS) vendors have Kindle Fire apps. I’ve read short mentions of owners using it for bookkeeping and expense logging. I was able to download an app from Duct Tape Marketing guru John Jantsch, too.
While the Kindle Fire  has limited capabilities for business owners, at this point, it will do several things to help. It raises the bar for other Android-based tablet makers to keep prices more affordable. I was tempted to “root” this device and see how it worked with a full-on version of Android, but it is, after all, just a loaned device.
What I like:
- It is very fast and just the right size to hold with one hand. Most wouldn’t use it as a phone, but I like the form factor more than the iPad for mobile use in a work setting.
- There are lots of business owners who want a more open source platform like Android and there are plenty of apps (not as many as the iOS platform) in development or in use today.
What I’d like to see:
- A way to access the full Android platform. Amazon is building on Android, but it is not a full-fledged Android device and there are probably more affordable tablets out there if you want to build your own applications. Not all Android apps will work on the Kindle.
- Cameras. There is no front or rear-facing camera. In fact, the Fire does not have some of the more commonly available tablet options: No GPS capabilities or Bluetooth. But, it comes in about half the price of most mainstream tablets. It offers value as an economy tablet. But there are some limitations due to the Kindle version of Android. If you are interested in a good discussion around the Android platform and using the Kindle Fire in future development work, this is a worthwhile read by Tony Bradley at PC World: Kindle Fire Creates Dilemma for Android .
Tablets will continue to change how we engage with the brands and companies we love. Amazon’s entry offers an affordable way to test it out. Analysts estimate that 5-6 million Kindle Fires have been sold. Again, those are mostly consumer numbers, however, when a platform picks up speed with consumers there is often an opportunity for small business. Please share how you are using the Kindle Fire in your business in the comments or by email. I’d love to hear your ideas.
Learn more about the Kindle Fire from Amazon .