今年11月可能会成为一个被人铭记的月份，因为随着美国两大书商亚马逊（Amazon）和巴诺（Barnes & Noble）相继向翘首企盼的市场上推出了竞争性产品，眼下的“平板大战”也变得越来越有趣。比如亚马逊的Kindle Fire平板就让媒体和消费者寄望以久，这款诚意十足的“iPad杀手”如今终于上市了。
这两款平板各有自己的优点和缺点，硬说其中的某一款胜过另一款，恐怕会以偏概全。据高德纳咨询公司（Gartner Research）估算，今年平板电脑的全球销量可能达到近２９０亿美元。显然，iPad的很多优势勿庸置疑的，比如它的硬件设计、用户界面和应用系统。它给整个平板市场定了调子。不过和６个月前刚上市时相比，iPad２高达４９９美元的售价恐怕会令不少消费者望而却步；而且如果把它和更小更轻便的Kindle Fire和Nook平板摆在一起，它的块头可能也显得稍大了些。
Kindle Fire的评测结果有褒有贬，不一而足。不过很多人都认同这是一台货真价实的机器，绝对对得起它的价钱。iPad能做到的，Kindle Fire也基本都能做到，但它的价格还不到iPad的一半。分析人士认为亚马逊在今年的假日季节可能卖出５００万台Kindle Fire。然而更重要的是，之前也有许多厂商尝试过２００美元的低价电脑，不过基本上都以失败告终，Kindle Fire的成功则提高了我们对于低价平板的功能预期。比Kindle Fire贵５０美元的Nook平板并未提供内置的视频和音乐服务，不过作为一款集成了大量多媒体功能的阅读设备来说，它也有着自己独特的魅力。据独立分析机构Forrester公司预测，巴诺在今年的假日季节可能卖出１５０万至２００万台Nook平板。
科技博客TechCrunch的专栏作家MG•西格勒最近写道，Kindle Fire的成功再次说明了消费者不再那么苛求技术规格，而是越来越关注用户体验。包装盒上印的那一长串硬件配置有多强悍并不重要，重要的是设备的运行速度有多快、多流畅，设备是否真的好用，以及它提供了哪些服务。就像智能手机一样，如果用户界面反应迟钝，哪怕它安装了一颗四核处理器，又有什么用呢？Kindle Fire和Nook平板立足简单务实，主打“刚刚好”和普及型平板的理念，因此立刻实现了更好的价值定位。
随着平板电脑行业的持续增长（从现在到2015年，预计平均每年增长52%），平板市场会变得更加多元化，预计厂家还会推出不同配置层级的平板电脑，以满足不同层次、不同需求的消费者。所以说无论是500美元的10吋平板（iPad）也好，200美元的7吋平板（Kindle Fire）也好，它们只不过是个开始。这样看来，平板市场的竞争可能会越来越像汽车行业的竞争。很少有人会说有哪款车型能满足所有消费者的口味。比如2012款的保时捷Cayman R跑车可能是操控性最好的汽车，但在载物能力上却落在下风。所以说苛求某一款平板能满足所有人的口味，本身可能就是个不切实际的要求。
November may well be remembered as the month the "tablet wars" got more interesting, when Amazon and Barnes & Noble catapulted competitive devices into a waiting and eager market. For the Kindle Fire in particular, media and consumers fixated on the idea that a bonafide "iPad killer" had finally, potentially arrived.
In truth, each tablet has its pros and cons, but to dub one the reigning champ would be to ignore the nuances of a growing market Gartner Research estimates could rake in nearly $29 billion in global sales this year alone. Obviously, the iPad gets many things right -- hardware design, user interface, app ecosystem. It set the tone for the entire market. But a $499 price tag might not appear to be the same bargain it was just six months ago and its 10-inch screen could look oversized next to the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet's smaller, more portable footprints.
Kindle Fire reviews run the gamut, though many agree on one thing: it's a solid device for the money. It does most of what the iPad can do but for less than half the price. Amazon could sell as many as 5 million Kindle Fires this holiday season analyst believe, but more importantly, its tablet succeeds where others have failed, raising our expectations for what a $200 tablet can do. Meanwhile, the Nook Tablet costs $50 more than the Kindle Fire and doesn't offer in-house video and music services, but has its own charms as a reading-focused device with a dollop of multimedia. Forrester predicts Barnes and Noble could move between 1.5 and 2 million units this holiday season.
As TechCrunch columnist MG Siegler wrote recently, the Kindle Fire is just the latest example of people focusing less on technical specifications and more on the user experience. It's not so important what the long list of components on the side of a box says so much as how quickly and smoothly the device inside runs, how easy it is to use and what services it offers. After all, who cares if a smartphone has a quad-core processor running under the hood if the interface running on top of it is sluggish? Looking at the Kindle Fire, and even the Nook Tablet, through the simplified, more pragmatic prism of being "good enough" and affordable, they instantly become better value propositions.
As the tablet industry continues to grow -- 52% on average each year through 2015 -- expect it to diversify, catering to different consumers willing to spend different amounts of money for different sets of features. So a $500 10-inch tablet versus a $200 7-inch tablet may just be the beginning. In that regard, the tablet market could look a lot like the auto industry. Few would say say there's such a thing as "one car fits all." The 2012 Porsche Cayman R may have the best handling for instance, but fall short if you're considering cargo capacity. That's why the idea of the search for one tablet to rule them all may be just plain foolish.