Amazon today announced the Kindle Fire, a full-colour, touch screen device for $200, as the company looks to put a dent in the success of Apple’s iPad.
The Fire, which weighs in at just under a pound, features a 7-inch multi-touch display, a dual-core processor, 8-gigabytes of internal storage and 8 hours of battery life. Amazon’s new tablet is powered by Android and runs the company’s new Web browser Amazon Silk. It’s also compatible with the company’s 18 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines and books, and supports applications from the Amazon app store.
The Amazon Prime service is also Fire-friendly, offering movie and TV show streaming for $80 a year. Customers can also get free unlimited storage for movies, books and music through Amazon’s cloud storage.
The Fire is available for pre-order now and is expected to launch on November 15.
Amazon’s ability to put so many features into the Kindle Fire and set the price at less than half that of the cheapest iPad has many analysts predicting Apple may finally have serious competition in the tablet market. The Fire sheds a few features of other Kindle models like the e-ink screen and 3G services, but the addition of multimedia and an advanced Web browser transform this version of the device from e-reader to tablet computer.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said he believe other companies have failed against the iPad because they were not competitive on price and “have just sold a piece of hardware.” Bezos said the Fire is different in that it is a premium product at a non-premium price, and because of Amazon’s robust library, it’s more like a service than a tablet.
Bezos’ theory is supported by the strong fire sales of HP’s TouchPad. HP initially priced its tablet computer at $500 for the 16-gigabyte model to compete head-to-head with the iPad, but sales were so poor, the device was subjected to a series of dramatic price cuts. It was not until the TouchPad was discontinued and marked down to $100 that it began selling rapidly.
Whether or not the Kindle Fire becomes the first true competitor to the Apple’s tablet remains to be seen, but Bezos doesn’t have any doubts. “We’re going to sell many millions of these,” he said while introducing the device.
Many millions is a good start, but it may take even more than that to dethrone the iPad.
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