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The $329 iPad mini may be selling like hotcakes, but that isn't fazing one of Apple's biggest competitors in the tablet market. According to Amazon, the Kindle Fire HD has not only survived the launch of a smaller, cheaper iPad, it's actually thriving.

That may suggest that the iPad mini and Kindle Fire HD aren't really competing with each other, but don't tell that to Amazon. The online retail giant thinks that the iPad mini is a juicy target and is using its homepage to prove the point.

Currently, visitors to Amazon are being greeted with a homepage promo with the tagline, "Much More for Much Less." Highlighted are some of the key differences between the iPad mini and Kindle Fire HD, such as the fact that Amazon's device sports an HD display with 30% more pixels than the iPad mini.

Adding insult to injury: Amazon is headlining its promo with a scathing quote from Gizmodo. It reads:

...your [Apple's] 7.9-inch tablet has far fewer pixels than the competing 7-inch tablets! You're cramming a worse screen in there, charging more, and accusing others of compromise? Ballsy.

Did Apple just walk into an uppercut?

With the iPad mini following in the footsteps of other Apple products (read: selling out), Amazon's attack on Apple's latest device could be brushed off as a savvy piece of marketing, but nothing more.

But is that really the case?

The iPad mini may be a great device, and one that produces revenue most companies would kill for. Is it the perfect device? No. To make a smaller, cheaper iPad, there is little doubt that compromises were required. Amazon is capitalizing on the iPad mini's imperfections and is using them to make the argument that the Kindle Fire HD provides more value. That's not surprising.

But what should be concerning Apple: it seems to be increasingly offering the competition great opportunities to create comparisons that make Apple products look more ordinary than extraordinary.

As Computerworld's Jonny Evans suggests, "It's not about Apple versus [the competition], it's about creating new product families that do things we don't even know we want to do yet."

By focusing too much on the competition, and, perhaps more importantly, directing our attention to the competition, Apple is arguably fighting the fight it doesn't want -- or need -- to fight. And even if it's still winning the fight, Apple's defense isn't what it used to be, giving Amazon the opportunity to strike and land blows that may not immediately damage Apple's top line, but over time, could damage its aura.

Patricio Robles

Published 30 October, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2381 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Sebastian Crump

This is, of course, a very selected set of comparison criteria.

Amazon neglect to mention the lack of 'cellular' options for their product and lack of rear-facing camera and according to some sites it only has half the battery life and is about 30% heavier and lack of 64Gb configuration and you have to pay more to remove ads and the movies/TV shows aren't available outside USA/UK... etc.

over 3 years ago

Steve Morgan

Steve Morgan, Freelance SEO Consultant at Morgan Online Marketing

"This is, of course, a very selected set of comparison criteria."

Welcome to the world of marketing! ;-)

Seriously though, you're right, but to be honest, how many people will pick up on that? How many will look at that list and say: "wow, the Kindle Fire is better than the iPad mini in all areas?" Quite a few I bet!

over 3 years ago

Andrew Lloyd Gordon

Andrew Lloyd Gordon, Digital Marketing Expert, Speaker and Trainer at New Terrain Limited

This type of 'dissing the competition' is as old as marketing itself. Of course, it tends to be a lot more open, direct and colourful in the USA than, for example, in the UK.

We have to remember that much of this type of promotion is actually aimed at EXISTING customers. It's often designed to reassure people who've already bought a product (or are just about to) that they've made the right decision and that they shouldn't suffer from 'buyers' regret'. Or, as psychologists put it, "post purchase dissonance".

Nevertheless, what is clever about this approach is that customers often use surprisingly scant information to choose between products. If you can draw out the key essentials for them and make the (apparent) comparison easy, then you might just nudge them your way.

As you point out though Patricio, it's not an opportunity you want to create for your competitors! Especially when they're as smart and as powerful as Amazon.

over 3 years ago

David Sealey

David Sealey, Head of Digital Consulting at CACIEnterprise

The broader point for me is that Apple is losing its mojo.

Previously they were setting the benchmark and disrupting the marketplace. Now they're producing "me to" products that are failing to woo everyone.

I appreciate that the iPhone and iPad are reaching maturity stage but the question has to be "what next Apple?" Is innovation truly at the core of Apple or was Steve Jobs crucial to the business' success?

over 3 years ago

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James Clarke

Apple is getting fairly robustly challenged at the moment which is slightly odd because sales suggest the market is still very hot for their products.

Innovation is important but so are great products and there still isn't a real challenger for iPad or arguably iPad mini.

over 3 years ago

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