A closer look at Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet

By on October 3, 2011, 2:17 AM

Last Wednesday we covered Amazon new Kindle's launch event and that meant confirming many of the rumors that had been circulating about a potential Android-based tablet coming from the e-commerce giant, as well as learning what makes the Kindle Fire so special in a market already inundated with different flavors of essentially the same thing.

The $199 price point was a great place to start considering how the HP TouchPad's sales went from nothing to completely sold out in a single day after its dramatic price drop. You might recall how everyone was enthused about the iPad's $500 asking price a year and a half ago, but until recently no one had been able to challenge that without larger compromises. When the first iPad was out, you compared buying a tablet to buying a new laptop, so $500 seemed like a steal. But today any tablet has to compete with the iPad's $500 lowest price of admission.

The Kindle Fire shares a lot of its hardware specs with the BlackBerry PlayBook, a tablet that wasn't very well received mostly because of its software limitations. Thus, the hardware itself is not groundbreaking but is certainly capable of driving the Android OS. The Kindle Fire features a 7-inch 1024x600 pixel IPS display, a dual-core ARM processor and runs a customized version of Android Gingerbread.

The entire user experience has been rebuilt by Amazon and the tablet features full integration with various Amazon services including Prime video streaming, Music, the Kindle bookstore, their own Appstore (not Google's Android Market) and even Amazon's EC2 cloud hosting, as it powers part of the browsing experience in Amazon's Silk web browser.

Our friends at MobileBurn traveled to New York for the launch event,
here's a brief video showing the tablet in action.

Amazon is consolidating its web services around the hardware device, not unlike what Apple has done building an ecosystem, and once again something other third parties have had a great deal of trouble replicating, even Google. Amazon's bet on the new Kindle tablet is serious enough that they are willing to take a loss on each unit sold, but with over 100,000 Kindle Fire tablets sold in less than a week, I doubt they will have a problem making up for that.

People seem to be divided on whether the Kindle Fire will be a true iPad challenger or not. There are good arguments on both sides. On the negative I agree with the lack of productivity apps (though that's easy to remedy) and the inherent limitation of a 7-inch screen. But on the positive, it comes down to the services and the ecosystem, the millions of loyal Amazon shoppers, and the potential of disrupting the tablet market not because of a single device but because of Amazon's take on computing.

User Comments: 9

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Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I could see this doing pretty well for Amazon... But I have a problem with an Android tablet that doesn't have access to the Android app store. How is Amazon going to fill up their 3rd party software pool to give more variety and universal appeal? The diversity of apps is one of the big consumer pulls for the iPad and regular Android tablets, yet Amazon has walled themselves off from the already-established content out there. Are they going to try to woo developers to their "Android but not Android" platform? Or re-publish existing Android apps and sell them through the Amazon app store? And how is Google going to handle that?

Seems like Amazon may end up adding fuel to the "fragmentation" arguments against Android, by seriously splintering the app libraries.

Guest said:

Its a start - no one believed me - Now on to $100 price point

Guest said:

The little demo-show guy seemed to not know any of the actual technical specs, or he was at least dodging those questions...

Guest said:

$199 is a good price..but I would rather pay $249 for a 10" screen version

techeomania said:

At a price as low as £199, Kindle Fire is considered to be a steal by many. But at that amazing price the device doesn't offer some basic features like no 3G or Bluetooth connectivity. So, Amazon will have to upgrade it sooner or later if it dreams of competing with iPad 2 or Galaxy Tab 10.1

For more info check out [link]

Guest said:

The Fire - according to an article I read earlier - is a loss leader to the tune of $10 per unit for Amazon. This puts - for $10 - a device into the hands of probably millions of buyers who will tend to purchase audio and video products from Amazon - like the books on the Kindles. I for one have not purchased anything beyond a book on my Kindle. But I have purchased about 40 books that I never would have without the device -- and it has become a preferred method of shopping to boot.

With the Fire, my buying opportunities are vastly enlarged (the magazines alone would attract my attention on the color format). Also this price point for me is inexpensive and I can return it if I hate it or find it irrelevant -- or give it away if an when Amazon upgrades to their next tablet. The $500 plus price point on the iPad is a bigger commitment and I would feel pretty crummy if it should disappoint.

TJGeezer said:

I've been tempted by the Kindle for awhile now - my family reads a lot, and those who have a Kindle absolutely swear by them. I've held off. Now the Fire, with its color screen and at a price not out of reach for a retired guy who's watching the thieves in congress once again target Social Security while demonizing old people who put part of their pay into the fund all their lives... even with all that, Fire's price is hard to resist. I need to see more about the hardware and its capabilities, though, before I buy. For me, $200 risks more than just disappointment with a new toy.

mynameis said:

I don't see not having access to the Android Market being a problem. The Amazon app store pretty much has everything you would want and helps filter out a lot of the garage that is on the Android Market. I have mine on pre-order, but I am still planning on keeping my current kindle (3rd Gen).

unrealmp3 unrealmp3 said:

And even worse, the Amazon Appstore is currently US-only.

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