After many Kindle Fire complaints, Amazon has finally promised a fix, coming in two weeks -- over a month and a half since the device first came out -- the company told The New York Times's David Streitfeld. The fix doesn't address some of the most common complaints, but it is the first admission the company has made to the device having some problems. Even so, Amazon says the device has sold well and ratings haven't tanked.
Since the Kindle Fire came out in mid-November, users have had trouble connecting to WiFi; have reported slow browsing; have complained of privacy issues; and have lamented the volume and on and off switches. The current update will contain "improvements in performance and multitouch navigation, and customers will have the option of editing the list of items that show what they have recently been doing," writes Steitfeld. Presumably the "improvements in performance" will address some of that speed stuff, but nowhere in there does it guarantee a Web browsing fix and there's no mention of WiFi -- kind of a big problem for a tablet that has no 3G capabilities and just relies on WiFi to get users connected.
But even with all the complaints, Amazon has reported "record breaking sales" and device reviews haven't slipped too much. "Since Nov. 18, five-star reviews have fallen slightly, to 47 percent from 50 percent ... One-star reviews have held relatively steady at about 13 percent," reports Streitfeld. These figures could have something to do with the super-cheap $199 price tag, compared to Apple's $500 iPad -- a few glitches are worth a $300 discount.*
And, as Amazon has said before, its strategy doesn't have much to do with the product, but with content sales. The idea is to get people hooked on purchasing movies, shows and magazines at the Amazon store first, then perfect the product. And Amazon sure has made it a breeze to buy things, with its single-click ordering system -- so easy, even babies can do it, notes Reuters's Mitch Lipka. Since Amazon pre-stores billing information, toddlers can accidentally buy things without a password or confirmation. "Anyone who is holding that device can place an order, whether it's their account or not," writes Lipka. One dad tried to turn off the one-click purchasing for his kids, but Amazon told him he couldn't and suggested deregistering the device after each purchase -- clearly a very annoying thing to do. This along with poor Web browsing on other sites makes it very easy to buy from Amazon and very difficult to shop elsewhere. Usability expert Jakob Nielsen even suggests that this could all be part of Amazon's master plan. "If I were given to conspiracy theories, I’d say that Amazon deliberately designed a poor Web browsing user experience to keep Fire users from shopping on competing sites," he wrote at his site.
This post originally stated that the Kindle Fire cost $200 less than an iPad 2.