Amazon introduces the Kindle Fire tablet

Kindle Fire

Amazon has officially unveiled the Kindle Fire — its new 7 inch tablet. As expected, it basically looks like a BlackBerry PlayBook — you know, if the BlackBerry PlayBook ran a customized version of Android and tied into Amazon’s app store, movie store, music store, eBook store, and digital newsstand.

The Kindle Fire will be available November 15th. It’s available for pre-order for $199.

The tablet has a 7 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel IPS Gorilla Glass display, a dual-core processor, and weighs just 14.6 ounces. Amazon is positioning it as sort of a Kindle for all the different types of digital content the company offers.

While the original Kindle devices were simply eBook apps, it’s been a long time since Amazon was just a book store. The company offers over 100,000 movies and TV shows for download, and if you pay $79 per year for an Amazon Prime membership you can stream 11,000 of them for free.

There are more than a million songs in the Amazon MP3 music store. And there are millions of books in the Kindle eBook store.

Amazon also has one of the strongest cloud-based platforms around, so one of the benefits of buying a device tied to Amazon services is that whenever you purchase an app, movie, song, or magazine, it’s stored in your online account.

You can download it and access it on any device running Amazon software (including iOS or Android phones or tablets) and even sync your last read page across all the devices you’re using to read a book. Videos work the same way — you can start watching on one device and continue on another.

You can also delete content from your device and easily re-download it at any time.

This is the sort of functionality Apple is building into its iCloud service for iOS devices, but Kindle Fire users will get them all on day one… because they’re really just extensions of services that Amazon already offers.

Amazon also introduced a new web browser for the Kindle Fire. It’s called Amazon Silk, and it uses Amazon’s EC2 service to accelerate web browsing by rendering web pages on a remote server before sending them to your device.

This is pretty much what the Opera Mini and Skyfire web browsers do, and it seems strange to see Amazon offer it today when mobile web browsers do a pretty good job of rendering web content. But Amazon is making the case that the Kindle Fire isn’t just a device, it’s a service — and it’s a cloud service at that. So using cloud features even in the web browser makes sense… I guess.

  • aftermath

    “…Amazon is making the case that the Kindle Fire isn’t just a device, it’s a service…”

    Yes, this is the BROKEN, FAILED, and OUTDATED paradigm which led to the PC revolution, and a return to such nonsense is neither an evolution of Personal Computing or even a revolution in personal compuing.  I believe this is what they call a “monkey trap”, and it people who walk around one of these deserve as much snickering as those who buy or use iPads.

    • http://www.liliputing.com Brad Linder

      We’ll see. It might not work, but essentially Amazon is trying to out-Apple Apple here. Part of the appeal of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad has always been its tight integration with iTunes… 

      At a time when there were few good options for buying music legally, Apple launched iTunes — with an almost Napster-like selection of content for reasonable prices. Oh yeah, and there was this iPod thing you could buy to carry your music around with you on the go.

      By the time the iPhone came around, iTunes already had a pretty big consumer lock-in, and simply the fact that it was a phone that worked with iTunes content was a pretty big selling point. Up until that point, nobody had really been talking about apps very much anyway — people just wanted a phone with iTunes.

      Flash forward a few years and Apple has added digital movies, books, and other content to its store… it’s not quite as dominant in these areas, because it’s entering the game a bit later — but it is a huge player in the hardware space now. So if you bought into the Apple ecosystem and picked up an iPod, then an iPhone, and an iPad so you could use iTunes, it makes sense to keep it in the family and get your books and movies from there as well.

      And while Apple had up until recently always been seen as a premium device maker, the company was able to sell its products for reasonably low prices because of supply-side efficiencies and the iTunes revenue stream. 

      Apple took a similar approach with the Kindle and its eBook service… and now it’s taking the same approach with the Kindle Fire, and all of its other services.

      The difference is that Amazon may not have as strong a lock on the software or the hardware as Apple has had… but it’s taking the price thing to the extreme here, selling devices close to cost in the hopes of making up the rest of the revenue by locking customers into the Amazon ecosystem.

      None of which is to diminish your point — it’s not necessarily good for customers that want choice. But it all depends on what you want to use a tablet for. If you want it to be a portable computer, jack-of-all trades, the Kindle Fire ain’t the device for you. But if you’re looking for a device for media consumption, web surfing, and maybe even some light content creation — but don’t particularly care about advanced software capabilities this model could work. 

      I also suspect that it may not be too long before we see hackers picking up $199 tablets and figuring out how to unlock the bootloaders (if they’re locked… which they probably are), and installing alternate operating systems. 

      • Mr. T

        Perhaps I’m misunderstanding, but I think aftermath’s main point was a wholesale rejection of the dumb terminals of the 1970′s and very early 1980′s, when everything worked on a server/client paradigm. The “integrated services” model — and, really, the whole idea of cloud computing in general — is in many ways a return to that model. You’ve pointed out before in reference to Jolicloud and similar services that the main difference this time around is that there might actually be enough bandwidth available to make it work, at least in large urban areas. Out here in the rural midwest, one is very lucky to have access to DSL and a decent 3g cell signal. I can see the promise of cloud computing, but I’m painfully aware that it has geographic restrictions based on access points and speeds that are seldom discussed.

  • http://silicoxvalley.com person287

    My guess, it will get around 1/3 of the sales of the iPad. Whatever it is, if you’re really cynical you’ll say it’s just apple fanboys buying whatever, if you think how I do it has just got the sheer amount  and quality of apps that makes it great. 
    And to anybody who randomly says it’s not competing with the iPad, maybe it’s not competing on the same market with it’s price, but amazon is sure as hell going to be competing with apple on sales!

  • Bob

    The KF’s $200 price is very appealing. It’s the magic number for a consumer impulse buy. I think Amazon will sell many of these for the holidays.

    But for modding value, the present NookC would still be superior. Its inclusion of a SD slot, which the KF lacks, is a major advantage. Also, much of the KF’s value is tied to Amazon’s integrated services. If modded, those would disappear.

    I’m looking forward to the announcement of B&N’s NookC follow-ups. Hopefully, B&N will see fit to match the KF’s $200 price.

    • Anonymous

      Mod doesn’t necessarily have to forgo the integrated services.  It may be possible to customize the existing firmware or set up a dual boot. 

      While lack of a card reader is a negative, but it is possible to still do mods over the USB and if it can support host mode then you can still maybe use a USB card reader or other USB devices.

      Possible lack of bluetooth may be more of a negative, considering it will limit choices of accessories like keyboards for productivity.  Though there are a number of devices showing up that will work over WiFi now as a possible alternative…

      While so far the rumor has it the next B&N Nook Color may be priced at $349.  Mind that B&N doesn’t have as much alternative revenue sources as Amazon and the more powerful tablets aren’t that cheap to make.

      • Bob

        Yes, NC’s ManualNooter left the existing OS intact. However, it doesn’t have the same flexibility as the full-fledged CM7.

        As for dual-boot, that would mean redoing the partitions, which while isn’t very hard, would still fall into the “hardcore” category, meaning fewer people would care to try it. And since the KF has only 8GB w/o external expansion, there’ll that much less space for content. Remember that one of the KF’s appeal is that you can store stuff on Amazon’s cloud, which undoubtedly will need authentication, and won’t be accessible outside of its custom OS.

        Good point about BT.

        From what I’ve read, B&N will have two NC follow-ups at $349 and $249. It doesn’t make sense to abandon the $249 price point, since that has been a big seller for them. It may well mean they’re keeping the existing NC, but I doubt it, since its weak SoC can’t do videos very well.

        I do think B&N will need to match the KF price for the 7″ model and hope to make it up on content sales. They’ll get killed otherwise. It’s a tough choice for them, being underpriced by a larger competitor.

  • Anonymous

    On the surface an attractive price but really I was expecting something more from Amazon. 

    Androids 7″ wifi tablets are pricing around $200-350 now anyway. 

    I like amazon but I’d rather lose the amazon lock in and go with something more vanilla for $100 more.  3g option, sd slot, volume buttons, more ram etc.  Still it beats the budgets androids out there that people seem to buy for some reason!  I’d just rather pay a little more for something better.

  • Anonymous

    Usually I don’t like it when a company customized Android.  But in this case it seems like it makes sense.  I hope Amazon’s tablet succeeds.  Amazon is probably one of the few companies that can pull something like this off because they have a pretty strong ecosystem with their amazon.com store, book, videos, music, apps and cloud storage.

  • Aim Fore

    Personally, I think the Kindle Fire will do a lot to send the tablet market into the direction that it needs to go (down in price).  For $199 they may have a serious winner on their hands.

    Aside from the lack of SD, etc. I’m trying really hard to find a reason not to buy this tablet (perhaps as a gift?).

    What is certain is that we the consumer are going to see a lot of goodies falling from the skies in the coming years!

    No wait!

    ….. on second thought, I don’t need this tablet!  I’m happy with my no-contract LG Optimus V ($140 Android smartphone) and iPod Touch (4th generation).  I enjoy reading on both : )    

    Who is going to buy this tablet? I suspect that the Kindle Fire is going to have its hands full with serious competition in the very near future so I really don’t see the hardcore crowd going for it!