Amazon readying Kindle Fire update to address criticisms

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
With Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablet drawing criticisms from consumers and reviewers alike, the online retailer has revealed a software update will arrive in a couple weeks to address some user complaints.



The Kindle Fire, which arrived in November, drew some praise from reviewers for its low price, but it also received ample criticism for being "sluggish and jerky" to the point of being "ornery." AppleInsider published an in-depth review of the device last month, noting that the "deep cuts" Amazon made to achieve the Kindle Fire's $199 price tag may have erased much of the tablet's "potential allure."



The New York Times reported on Sunday that common user complaints include the lack of external volume controls, poor placement of the off switch, long load times for web pages and the lack of privacy on the device. Parents have also complained that the Kindle Fire lacks parental controls, thereby allowing kids to access pornography or make purchases.



Negative feedback on the Fire came to a head last week when usability guru Jakob Nielsen pronounced the Fire's user experience as "disappointingly poor." His report especially took issue with Amazon's Silk browser, calling it "clunky and error-prone."



In an interview with the Times, Nielsen, who co-founded consulting firm Nielsen Norman Group, predicted that the Fire would be a failure. ?I can?t recommend buying it,? he said.



For its part, Amazon is aware of the complaints and is working to address them. Spokesman Drew Herdener told the Times that an over-the-air update for the Fire is coming in "less than two weeks." The update will bring improvements to performance and multitouch navigation and will allow users edit the recent activity list for greater privacy.



The company continues to remain optimistic about the Kindle Fire. It noted late last month that the device has been its best-selling product since pre-orders began, though it declined to provide actual sales figures. CEO Jeff Bezos said in October that the retailer was building "millions more" units than originally planned.



Analysts believe Amazon could ship as many as 5 million Kindle Fires this quarter. Market research firm IHS declared Amazon the No. 2 tablet maker earlier this month, forecasting shipments of 3.9 million units in the fourth quarter.







Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has been tracking customer opinions on Amazon's own website. According to him, the number of customers offering five-star reviews has dipped since Nov. 18, falling from 50 percent to 47 percent. One-star reviews of the device stand at roughly 13 percent.



?I would have expected things to be even worse at this point,? he said, adding that the Fire's budget pricing could save it. ?Amazon has a lot of air cover to have a B-level product.?



Amazon's strategy may be to quickly release an upgraded Kindle after learning from its initial foray into the tablet market. AppleInsider reported in September that the company is using the current 7-inch Fire to test the waters and is planning an 8.9-inch version for next year.



The Times believes that a new Fire model could arrive as soon as next spring. One recent report cited supply chain sources as claiming that an 8.9-inch Kindle Fire would arrive in the middle of the second quarter of 2012.



Nielsen believes next year's upgraded version will be Amazon's last shot at success with the Kindle Fire. ?If that?s a failure, then the Fire is doomed to the dust pile of history,? he said.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 81
    Quote:

    The update will bring improvements to performance and multitouch navigation and will allow users edit the recent activity list for greater privacy.



    I like how they skirt the real issue on privacy. The web requests still go through Amazon's servers and thus data is still being collected by them. Editing you recent activity means nothing.



    And improvements to performance? Well gee, and here I thought Silk was supposed to be silky smooth.
  • Reply 2 of 81
    I think the fact that they wouldn't let anyone use it at the launch should have been a bit of a give-away.



    One of the main reasons I use my iPad over my laptop, is because the iPad is fast and smooth.



    I really don't think the cheaper price of the Fire is worth it, when it means you have to loose that flawless user experience.
  • Reply 3 of 81
    Because as we know, nothing is more fun then opening up a new product on Christmas morning and waiting for overtaxed, possibly down servers to load updates...
  • Reply 4 of 81
    bigpicsbigpics Posts: 1,385member
    Imagine that. You don't get $500 worth of goodness in a small, $200 machine that takes 15 hardware shortcuts using software written by a company who's never manufactured anything other than an e-reader - compared to a tablet made by a company with a slew of elegant iDevices designed for quality and best possible user experience under its belt.



    Who coulda' saw this coming??



    Seriously, these iPad killers are going down one after another faster than each next rising then falling Republican presidential great hope!
    [PS: I'm not being pro- or anti-Republican here, but that is what's been happening both to all the "great (insert OS or 'OS fork' here) hope tablets" and those folks, LoLz...]
    PPS: This doesn't mean word will get out in time to stop Amazon from selling a slew of these to the unwary and budget-minded - and likely getting a better 2nd Gen machine out there. Amazon is a marketing machine - and the Fire does work after a fashion - with most people having nothing to compare it to.
  • Reply 5 of 81
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,591member
    Hope it fails to be honest. Don't want it one this side of the pond. Bad enough that we have to support customers with Android phones, don't want a load of these craplets to support too.



    This is based on our interactions with the great unwashed who buy Android handsets and who have no idea how to work them or setup email or fix it when its broken. The consistent complaints about it running slow/crashing/battery life are a right pain in the ass. At least it seems to have pushed these users to get iPads over Android tablets which we are thankful for.
  • Reply 6 of 81
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by saintstryfe View Post


    Because as we know, nothing is more fun then opening up a new product on Christmas morning and waiting for overtaxed, possibly down servers to load updates...



    because that _NEVER_ happens with apple gear!
  • Reply 7 of 81
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    I remember a lot of people having a lot of complaints about the initial iPad, but as I recall there was a minor software update or two soon after launch that fixed some things, and then when ios 4 came to the device, everyone really started singing its praises.



    Give Amazon 9 more months and see where this thing stands, these sisues will be in teh rear view mirror and the fire OS and system software will have been tuned optimized and debugged to a greater extent.



    The initial launch wasnt perfect software wise, but it is more important for Amazon to have it in peoples hands at Christmas than to have perfect software at launch, and if the software update is availible by Christmas, no worries, all the new users will get teh new software when they fire the devices up so problem solved.



    Some actor playing the roll of hippie who started some little fruit stand in Cupertino Ca once said "Great artists ship!"
  • Reply 8 of 81
    Nonsense. It's a version 1.0, and it's useful for reading books and other media, which is what it's supposed to do. I'd say that it's best as a good second machine for an iPad owner who doesn't want to lug the thing around and try to wield it just to read something, except that I bought one for a girlfriend, who is an Apple user and who doesn't own an iPad, and she loves it too. For reading books. Which is what this version is meant for.



    A really bone-headed thought, not worth repeating.



    Could it better? Sure. So could the iPad.



    And they both will be.
  • Reply 9 of 81
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,591member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by a_greer View Post


    I remember a lot of people having a lot of complaints about the initial iPad, but as I recall there was a minor software update or two soon after launch that fixed some things, and then when ios 4 came to the device, everyone really started singing its praises.



    Give Amazon 9 more months and see where this thing stands, these sisues will be in teh rear view mirror and the fire OS and system software will have been tuned optimized and debugged to a greater extent.



    The initial launch wasnt perfect software wise, but it is more important for Amazon to have it in peoples hands at Christmas than to have perfect software at launch, and if the software update is availible by Christmas, no worries, all the new users will get teh new software when they fire the devices up so problem solved.



    Some actor playing the roll of hippie who started some little fruit stand in Cupertino Ca once said "Great artists ship!"



    The unfortunate position for Amazon is that there are hardware issues not just software, so if you bought one your screwed if they release a rev 2 device within weeks of the original with volume controls etc.
  • Reply 10 of 81
    cameronjcameronj Posts: 2,357member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by saintstryfe View Post


    Because as we know, nothing is more fun then opening up a new product on Christmas morning and waiting for overtaxed, possibly down servers to load updates...



    Was that a deliberate reference to Apple stuff or did you not even realize it?
  • Reply 11 of 81
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,743member
    Software updates will only fix so much. You can't remove the crap from Android that lives in it's core, no matter how much it gets updated. Just ask any of the unfortunate people who have already bought Android tablets that are still waiting on software updates to fix their many issues.



    A software update may fix a minor bug or it may add a feature that is missing, but a software update will not make the device smooth. A software update will never fix the lack of volume controls on the device. A software update will never fix the retarded placement of the power button on the device. A software update will not unclunk the clunkiness from the device. As for the people claiming that it's mainly good for reading books, a regular Kindle is much better for that purpose and also cheaper.



    Anybody even mentioning the iPad and the Kindle Fire in the same sentence should be ashamed of themselves. The Kindle Fire is more like a poorly functioning, oversized iPod Touch than it is similar to an iPad. If I happened to be poor as dirt, I'd rather have a smooth functioning iPod Touch instead of a Kindle Fire.
  • Reply 12 of 81
    Amazon an their whole Kindle is a joke to me.

    My girlfriend got the low end monchrome kindle( what a piece of junk) from them clowns over at Best Brick, I mean Best Buy. Set up was a pain, and buying a book doesn't allow the user to be prompted with a second tier option that allows them to reconsider buying the product. You press pay and ch ching it goes. I hate that. To buy something I want to enter a code damnit!

    And when the kindle is off the tablet displays advertising. What a joke!!

    And it should be apparent that Amazon doesn't make those kindles. They buy them from an OEM

    in China or Korea.

    What's funny is that iBooks on iPod touch, iPhone or any Mac is a vastly superior experience than any of those kindles.
  • Reply 13 of 81
    Aaargh....... z boyz are out in force....



    Give up, guys. It's a POS. You get what you pay for.
  • Reply 14 of 81
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,743member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    Give up, guys. It's a POS. You get what you pay for.



    Nah man, I think you're wrong. I can get two of them for the price of an iPad, and then I'll end up with two pieces of shit. And who would not rather have two pieces of shit instead of an iPad?
  • Reply 15 of 81
    Been using the Fire for about 2 weeks (prepping it for my wife). Mostly using it for the wonderful selection of FREE movies & TV (classic, camp & comedy for me). The on/off button issue is not an issue; external volume adjustment would be convenient but my Garmin GPS operates similarly. The wife will also enjoy reading magazines and books. The size factor is easy to carry around in a purse or jacket.



    And the upcoming software tweaks will be welcome but even here, it's not a deal breaker. If Apple launches a 7 or 8" iPod, that would be interesting. But with more than 10K of Free movies & TV shows for AMZ prime members, the Fire is a win for our family. And I suspect, their 2nd gen version will only get better.
  • Reply 16 of 81
    I've never figured out all the complaining about the Kindle Fire. In the admittedly short time that I used the Fire, everything was smooth and it performed well. It's probably the best Android tablet on the market, even if it is using a proprietary interface.
  • Reply 17 of 81
    sennensennen Posts: 1,466member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by a_greer View Post


    I remember a lot of people having a lot of complaints about the initial iPad, but as I recall there was a minor software update or two soon after launch that fixed some things, and then when ios 4 came to the device, everyone really started singing its praises.



    How can you keep a straight face whilst comparing the "problems" the 1st gen iPad had to the issues with the Fire? Amazing.
  • Reply 18 of 81
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,496member
    [deleted]
  • Reply 19 of 81
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    The first Kindle wasn't exactly a big hit. It was bulky and the screen refresh was terrible. But after a couple of revisions, it's a very popular product. I see Kindles everywhere.



    Amazon will keep iterating until the Fire is a great product.
  • Reply 20 of 81
    freerangefreerange Posts: 1,589member
    Nice. Put out a beta product, at best, to millions of people to get feedback on how to do it right. Priceless.
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