Amazon Launches Kindle Fire – Touchscreen Tablet

Regular readers will know that I’m a fan of – the company, not the stock ($AMZN) which I do not own.  Today, Amazon launched its entry into the tablet space, the Kindle Fire: $199.


Amazon's Kindle Fire Tablet

The NY Times has a nice writeup on the Fire’s features, and the rest of the new Kindle lineup.

Some Kindle Fire details, courtesy of

– 7 inch hi-res multi-touch screen*, 14.6 ounce weight

– built in “cloud-enhanced” web browser: Amazon Silk

– Amazon Whispersync **

-Wi-fi connectivity – no 3G yet

– 8GB internal storage, free cloud-based storage of all content, which they are really hyping:  books, movies, music

– Free month of Amazon Prime membership included – which gives you 2-day free shipping and free streaming of 10,000 movies and TV shows.    I am an Amazon Prime member, and my wife and I order an average of more than 2 items a week from Amazon.  I have not utilized their streaming content yet, though – last time I checked it was mediocre at best.

So let’s talk about this:  The Ipad is 7.3″ x 9.5″.  The new Kindle Fire is 4.7″ x 7.5″  – about half the size.  I don’t own an Ipad, but I considered its main usefullness to be 1) watching videos and 2) web browsing while traveling or commuting.  A smaller screen would be worse for both of those uses, but maybe Amazon can compensate with what it claims is a faster browsing experience, combined with a huge price advantage.   On two recent trips I have used my Ipod Touch to read email and browse web pages.  Even with the tiny screen, the functionality is good enough that the product works.  Thus, I think that the Fire is likely to be able to pull it off, on a device that’s roughly double the size of the Ipod Touch.

Price will probably be the key advantage – as tech products become increasingly “disposable,” in the sense that the latest and greatest model becomes “obsolete” so quickly, Kindle Fire’s $199 price point is a huge advantage over Ipad’s $499 starting level.    Amazon also launched a new line of improved Kindles, with the base model being the $79 Kindle with Special Offers (read: “Amazon pushed ads on a screensaver when you’re not reading”) followed by the $99 Kindle Touch with Special Offers (touch version of the basic Kindle, which eliminates the buttons on the base model via a multi-touch screen), and the $149 Kindle Touch 3G with Special Offers (as before, 3G requires no monthly fees or contracts).     If you don’t want Amazon’s “special offers” spam screensaver,  you can pay $40 more for each of the devices (Kindle Fire is $199 – no special offers necessary).

Will the Kindle Fire be the often hyped yet thusfar unseen proverbial Ipad Killer?  Who knows – but more importantly, does it even have to be?    It feels like Amazon can have a hit product on its hands even if it doesn’t destroy Ipad in the process.

It’s reader survey time:  Are you interested in buying a Kindle Fire?  If so: do you own an Ipad already?  If not: do you own an Ipad already?  Why do you want (or not want) the Fire?  Have at it in the comments.

I think I’ll probably buy a Kindle Fire – as a cheap yet probably very effective entry into the tablet space.   An alpha-technology consumer buddy of mine noted:

“Think about this.  You could buy one of every new Kindle product that Amazon launched today for less than the cost of an Ipad.  I think that is your answer.”



disclosure: no positions in $AMZN or $AAPL

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* 7″ multi-touch display with IPS (in-plane switching) technology and anti-reflective treatment, 1024 x 600 pixel resolution at 169 ppi, 16 million colors.

** “Like Kindle e-readers, Kindle Fire uses Amazon’s Whispersync technology to automatically sync your library, last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across your devices. On Kindle Fire, Whispersync extends to video. Start streaming a movie on Kindle Fire, then pick up right where you left off on your TV – avoid the frustration of having to find your spot.”


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