Rick Aristotle Munarriz at The Motley Fool surmises that with the Kindle Fire hitting the market, Apple’s free-wheeling iPad heyday is just about over:

Apple had no problem selling $500 to $830 iPads when all of the major manufacturers were in that ballpark, but there’s a new line in the pricing sand. If Apple’s response is to simply roll out a seven-inch iPad early next year at $299 — and perhaps shave its flagship design by $100 each — that may be enough to at least keep it in contention.

Either way, it’s time to kiss Apple’s healthy iPad profit margins goodbye.

It was this time last year that Munarriz also declared that the iPad was doomed because Barnes and Noble was about to unleash the NOOKcolor:

I don’t think that even the mighty Apple saw this coming.

Barnes & Noble introduced its NOOKcolor yesterday. The device is a break from the color-less e-readers on the market, where keyboards take up a good chunk of the viewing space.

The biggest reason for Apple to worry is that NOOKcolor is priced at $249, half of the ransom commanded by its entry-level iPad.

The term “ransom” should tell you all you need to know about Munarriz’s attitude toward Apple’s tablet.  Obviously he feels that it’s exorbitantly overpriced despite the fact that devices at similar and cheaper price points have gained little traction in the market.  This time around it’s the Kindle Fire that will supposedly cut the iPad down at the knees.  Early reviews for the Fire have been generally mixed, and most stress that this is not an iPad replacement.

Apple has dominated the tablet space so far because there simply hasn’t been a compelling alternative.  Now with the Kindle Fire we have what seems like a competitor, but more so for the iPod touch than the iPad.

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