Amazon officially introduced its entry into the tablet game today, and it promises to make some real noise in an already crowded market. Dubbed the Kindle Fire, Amazonís tablet is now available for pre-order for a retail price of just $199. The Kindle Fireís release date has been set for November 15.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos commented on the Fireís highly affordable price tag during the press conference, saying, ďWe're building premium products at non-premium prices.Ē At just under $200, the Fire is priced well below many of its competitors, such as the Apple iPad, that retail for around $500.
With the lower price also comes a sacrifice in capabilities. The Fire will come without an integrated camera or microphone. 3G is another notable omission from the tabletís feature set, and storage space is limited to 8GB. The smallish 7-inch IPS display could be a turnoff as well. The Fire will boast a dual-core processor and a customized version of Googleís Android operating system that features a revamped interface. Amazonís proprietary Silk web browser is another highlight, as is wireless synching. Kindle Fire owners can also look forward to a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, which provides streaming video and complimentary two-day shipping. Once the tablet rolls out there should be plenty of available content, as Amazon has inked agreements with 20th Century Fox and various publishers.
While the official unveiling of the Kindle Fire is not the first time a tablet has been previewed to the public, it seems as if Amazonís announcement has garnered more attention than most. Why? Itís quite simple. Many tech industry followers want to see if a device has finally arrived that has the capacity to take a big chunk out of Appleís hold on the tablet throne.
Of course, no one really believes that any tablet in the near future will pose a huge threat to the iPad, as it will likely remain the top tablet for at least a while. If you take a look at this year, approximately three out of every four tablets sold will be iPads. What might happen, however, is that the Kindle Fire could open up the market, driving other tablet manufacturers such as Motorola and Samsung to step up their efforts.
Several factors point to success for the Kindle Fire. First, the Amazon name is now recognized around the world, and it has gained the trust of many consumers. The success of the Amazon Kindle e-reader should pique the interest of the companyís pre-existing customers as well, as they may receive the last push needed to finally pick up a tablet. Toss in Amazonís web-based platform known for supplying digital music, movies, e-books, streaming media, and more, and you have all the ingredients in place for a solid beginning for the Kindle Fire. Early estimates from market research firm Forrester project sales of three to five million Kindle Fire units before 2012.
Apps are a huge factor in the success of mobile devices, and Amazon has already addressed them with the opening of its own Android app store. The app store brings Android into Amazonís ecosystem, and the Kindle Fire brings Amazon into Androidís, making it a win-win situation for both. Amazonís strong name combined with Androidís top-notch capabilities help to form a noticeable tandem in the tablet world that competitors must keep an eye on.
Of course, the future is not a guaranteed grand slam for the Kindle Fire, as Amazon does have some potential obstacles in its way. Perhaps the biggest obstacle is Appleís popularity. The Apple name speaks for itself, and its early introduction has helped tremendously in giving it the number one spot in the tablet market. Not only is the iPadís success hard to beat, but the fact that the iPhone is so popular has cemented many consumers as Apple loyalists. Converting a potential tablet buyer over to another manufacturer, especially if theyíve had a positive experience with another Apple product like the iPhone, is a difficult task.
Looking at the Kindle Fire itself, the tabletís form factor presents another obstacle. Sure, many may enjoy the smaller 7-inch size, but others may deem its display to be too small in comparison to the iPad and other tablets on the market. Amazon may have decided on the smaller display to differentiate itself from the iPad, but that move could backfire.
Another characteristic standing in the way of possible success for the Kindle Fire is Amazonís customization of Android. Doing so allows the Amazon to create a distinct tablet experience, and it also gives them more control over updates. However, Amazon now has the heavy responsibility of maintaining its customized Android OS, not to mention the possible app compatibility issues that could arise.
Despite the obstacles, itís not far-fetched to predict that the Kindle Fire will make Amazon a major player in the tablet game. When you combine all the factors in Amazonís favor, such as brand recognition, an affordable price point, previous success of the Kindle, its huge ecosystem, and the use of Android, the Kindle Fireís future is a bright one.
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