On September 28th, Amazon shocked the tech world with the announcement of their newest Kindle. Their new “Kindle Fire” is a tablet with a 7 inch multitouch display, with a higher resolution than the iPad. It has a dual core CPU, wifi capability, and runs a very custom version of Google’s Android tablet operating system, Honeycomb. With access to Amazon’s huge library of content, including books, magazines, TV shows, music, and movies, this device will be killer for content consumption. It is also able to download applications and games from Amazon’s new app store and browse the web with Amazon’s Silk browser. Did I mention that it only cost $199?
Although the Kindle Fire does not match the iPad’s features, at $199 it will be a huge seller for Amazon. Not only has Amazon managed to come up with a tablet that is cheaper than the iPad, but they are the first company competing with Apple that has actually came up with something new, not just another wanna-be iPad.
We got our first glimpse of the iPad when it was first announced in January of 2010, at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco. Steve Jobs showed off its most prominent features and capabilities at the keynote announcement. We saw the iPad compose emails, create documents in the iWork suite, and later, when garageband was announced, we saw the iPad making music. In addition to being a great tool for content consumption, the iPad was touted as a creator, something that you could easily use instead of a laptop or personal computer. The Kindle Fire is completely different.
Our first view of the new Kindle in action was during its announcement event. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, gave the audience a demo of the new product. He showed us that the new Kindle can read books, watch videos, play music, and even play games downloaded from their app store. It was briefly mentioned that the Kindle Fire would have an email client, but it was not even demonstrated. It is quite obvious that the direction Amazon is going with their Kindle Fire is quite different from the one that Apple took. Unlike the iPad, the Kindle Fire was designed purely for consuming content. This is made even more obvious by the fact that it costs Amazon $10 more to manufacture the Kindle Fire than the price they are selling it for. So if they aren’t making money off of it, than why do they bother? The Kindle Fire (like previous Kindles) is simply a gateway for Amazon to reach more potential customers. Now, instead of just selling books with through their Kindles, they can now sell video, music, and apps, and the fact that all of this content is so easily accessible only makes the tablet more appealing.
So… Do I think the Kindle Fire will be a huge success? Absolutely. Do I think it will be an iPad killer? Not at all. The Kindle Fire will certainly cut into the iPad’s sales a little, but I think each device has its own, completely different market. I think that Shawn Blanc hit the nail on the head when he wrote “The Kindle Fire is a portable media center, not a portable computer”.