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Five Reasons Why the Amazon Kindle Fire Will Light Up Enterprises

Nobody seems to think the Amazon Kindle Fire has a chance of succeeding in business.

InformationWeek thinks the Kindle’s Android OS is both insecure, and un-securable via Mobile Device Management (MDM) software. CIO Insight dismissed the Kindle tablet’s reliance on the cloud, while eWeek calls the Amazon brand too fundamentally consumer-y. Meanwhile, CIO magazine said the iPad’s just got too commanding of a lead within enterprises.

Whoa. I just had the strongest feeling of deja vu wash over me. It’s as if I read and heard these same exact opinions 22 months ago, except it was about the iPad vis-a-vis laptops (I might have even been guilty of writing some of it).

You know what they say: learn from history, or else you’ll let it repeat itself.  I know that’s not enough convince tech-savvy, logical readers like yourself. So here are five arguments for why the Kindle Fire will surprise enterprise skeptics:

1) Developers are coming! Like moths to a Fire, Android developers are being attracted to the Amazon tablet and making it their highest priority. 49% of North American developers are very interested in building for the Fire, according to an Appcelerator survey, ahead of second-place Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Some developers are no doubt attracted by things such as the Kindle Fire code becoming open-source. But most developers simply go where they think  customers will be. That was the  feedback loop that boosted the iPad. And it should boost the Fire and Android overall.

2) So are consumers. According to a recent survey, 77% of tablets used in the enterprise are purchased and paid for by employees via Bring Your Own Device plans.

Consumers, in other words. Who by and large remain extremely price-sensitive. For the cost of equipping mom and dad with $499 iPads, one could equip the parents, two kids and even the family dog, too, with five $199 Kindle Fires.

This is why there are studies like Retrevo’s that show more people planning to to buy a Kindle Fire than an iPad this Christmas. Or why DisplaySearch expects 6 million Fires to be shipped (versus 9-11 million iPads).

Expect millions of workers to start nagging their IT administrators in the New Year about when they can connect their Kindle Fires to the corporate network.

3) And so is IT. In an IBM-sponsored survey of 4,000 IT pros worldwide released last week, 70% said they plan to deploy apps for Android devices, versus 49% for iPhone and iPad, 35% for Windows 7, and 25% for BlackBerry.

On a more anecdotal level, I know two CIOs who have already started testing the Kindle Fire for internal use: SAP’s Oliver Bussmann and Sybase’s Jim Swartz. I have to believe that plenty of other CIOs are investigating Kindle Fires.

The reason is simple: consumer tablets are so inexpensive that they are the enterprise IT equivalent of a “disposable razor,” according to Yankee Group analyst Eugene Signorini. And no mainstream tablet is less expensive than the Fire.

(Interested in seeing some Android enterprise tablet deployments today? Check out my list here)

4) Also, corporate e-mail support is here. Microsoft’s Exchange email server dominates businesses, hands-down. And e-mail along with Web browsing remain core business uses for tablets.

Android may not offer native support – it’s a Google product, remember? – but there are capable and secure third-party Exchange-friendly apps already available. NitroDesk, for instance, announced earlier this month that its TouchDown e-mail client app for the Kindle Fire was available.

5) The Zen of Minimalism. For IT managers, less can definitely be more when it comes to technology. How do you think on-board graphics became near-ubiquitous in desktop PCs? Because companies wanted anemic graphics so as not to  encourage their employees to while away hours watching Netflix or playing Halo.

So the perverse upside of the Kindle Fire’s 8 GB of storage and 512 MB of RAM – half of what the BlackBerry PlayBook has – means less data stored (and potentially lost), and fewer movies and games to be watched and played by procrastinating employees.

Similarly, the Kindle Fire’s lack of 3G/4G connectivity means one less headache for IT administrators worried about exorbitant data roaming charges from salesguys streaming movies in their overseas hotel room. The same goes for the inability of Kindle Fire owners to access the Android Market. Fewer apps, sure, but also much less exposure to malware.

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  • I received my Kindle Fire this week.  I have to admit - it was a new toy to replace my plain old gray Kindle.  But I have to say I was extremely impressed with the product.  Now my iPad is left charging while I'm twiddling away on my Kindle at home - soaking up news articles, watching movies, reading books, playing Word Feud,reading mail and taking notes.  I'm even wondering why I just spent $500 on the Apple iPad2 wi-fi model.  The thing about the Kindle is that at 7", it's manageable in one hand.  I have to kick the tires a little more on how well it browses and how the cloud really works for me.  But it is a serious contender.  (Don't worry, though, Apple, I'm still taking my iPad to conferences and meetings - I have a reputation to maintain.)
  • Hello Eric,
    Very insightful blog.
    However, I googled on Kindle fire and have come to conclusion that it is designed to cater more of Amazon readers than the rest.
    I might be wrong in my perception but less price of Kindle fire is due to many attributes.
    I would say if I would have to invest in my tablet PCs I would have to thoroughly analyze the scope of usage and how adaptive would that be if I plan to work via the same.
    If I think loud I consider that working on a smaller screen is always a challenge to be taken for me? Am I not prepared for mobility?

  • I begg to differ on the exchange topic.

    Out of the box, most android devices have an exchange mail application. (at least my galaxy tab and nexus have it, making me believe it's more or less standard) And there's plenty of free apps around in the market.

    Other than that, I believe Android has a huge potential in the enterprise. SUP is stil lagging behind however. Android native support for SUP has already been promised since November 2010. Last news I heard was december 2012.

    None the less, the kindle fire is again a nice step to spread Android over the tablet market as well.

    Interesting point on the developer-consumer-developer cycle btw