Amazon has released today the Kindle Fire color tablet that costs just $199, which will put it in direct competition with Apple’s iPad 2.
Kindle Fire, the new Android touchscreen will be just one of a clutch of new tablet models, including one as cheap as $80.
Kindle Fire, the new Android device has a 7 inches color screen, and will weigh 14.6oz. The device can store 100,000 films, 17m songs, and magazines.
Unlike iPad, Kindle Fire won’t need to dock with a computer , but will “sync” wirelessly via Amazon’s Whispersync service, which uses 3G networks and wi-fi.
Kindle Fire is set to launch in US on November 15, but the device will be wi-fi only, rather than equipped with a 3G connection.
Amazon has also unveiled its own internet browser, Amazon Silk – an unexpected move, which seems even more aggressive towards Apple.
Amazon’s Kindle is the site’s best-selling product – but Kindle Fire, the tablet unveiled today, takes the gadget beyond being a cheap techno-bookshop to a multi function tablet with access to the huge amount of film, music and television Amazon already hosts on its site.
Kindle Fire’s worldwide release date is yet to be confirmed.
Reactions on Twitter ranged from “They’re out of their league” to outright disgust – but were outnumbered vastly by users saying they had already pre-ordered.
“The price is pretty amazing actually. With all of those services backing it up, there’s a lot of reason to think this will make a big splash,” said Stuff magazine editor Will Findlater.
“We don’t really know what the user experience is like yet, but this is a staggering price.”
Amazon is already invested heavily in cutting-edge cloud computing services and content delivery systems, all of which lend themselves to powering a piece of multimedia hardware like the Kindle Fire.
Analyst Dominic Sunnebo Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said:
“Over 25% of consumers who plan to buy a tablet in the next year remain undecided which brand or model to buy. Over 50% of people who want to buy a tablet are waiting for prices to come down. We are likely to see Christmas wish lists rewritten overnight.”
“It’s a risky move that puts Amazon in direct competition with Apple – but could be essential to the site surviving in an age where downloads of entertainment will become the norm,” Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO pointed himself.
Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos said of the evolution of the device:
“Four years ago we stated with 90,000 books – today it’s a million. You can choose any of these books and have them in 60 seconds wirelessly.”
However, insiders worry that Amazon may have rushed in. The hardware is rumored to be similar to BlackBerry’s PlayBook – a huge flop that caused reported redundancies at the company, and is now offered at huge discounts online.
Rumors are also circulating that an upgraded model of Kindle Fire will come out shortly after Christmas.
Will Findlater, editor of Stuff magazine:
“This is Amazon expanding its repertoire. It’s already invested heavily in cutting-edge cloud computing services and content delivery systems, all of which lend themselves to powering a piece of multimedia hardware like the Kindle Fire.
“The Kindle will remain the de facto choice for people who just want to read – and there are lots and lots of them – while the Kindle Fire caters for those of us who want music, video and apps, too.”
Amazon’s advantage is that – unlike BlackBerry – it is not trying to make money from the device itself. Kindle Fire will merely be a portal to Amazon’s video, music and eBooks.
Amazon is already the world’s largest online retailer – and comes armed with a one-click ordering system that can deliver entertainment from books to films to music with a single button-press. Other iPad rivals may simply not have been entertaining enough.
Analysts suggest that Amazon’s willingness to sell hardware at a loss in order to sell more e-books,films and music will put it in a position to offer the first serious challenge to Apple – whose “core” business is still selling phones, tablets, and iPods.
American tech industry analysts Forrester Research wrote on their company blog that Amazon’s tablet could be the “only credible iPad competitor” and could even “completely disrupt the status quo”.
Even on iPad, consumers often prefer buying books via Amazon’s Kindle app to Apple’s own less-well-stocked iBooks store.
“Apple sells software and services, but the lion’s share of Apple’s revenue still comes from hardware,” wrote Forrester Research.
“This makes it vulnerable to a company, such as Amazon, that isn’t seeking profit from hardware sales.”
Analysts still expect Apple to dominate the tablet market for “several years” – at present, Apple controls at least 75% of tablet sales worldwide, despite High Street chains such as Comet selling Android tablets for as little as $150.
Kindle Fire vs. iPad:
Kindle Fire comes in one model priced at $199, iPad 2 is $499-$829.
Kindle Fire has no camera, front or back.
Kindle Fire’s resolution is 1024×600, iPad 2’s 1024×768.
iPad 2 comes in several models, some with 3G connections. Kindle Fire’s low price is partially down to its lack of a 3G connection.
Kindle Fire’s screen is 7 inches, iPad 2’s is 10.1 inches.
Kindle Fire has 8Gb built-in storage – iPad 2 has from 16Gb to 64Gb.
Kindle Fire’s maximum battery life is 8 hours, iPad 2’s is 10.
Kindle Fire weighs 414g, iPad 2 601g.