Amazon got the innanet goin’ nuts. The company’s press event this morning unveiled three new models of their Kindle line: ranging from the $79 barebones e-reader with a touch pad to the $199 Kindle Fire: an android-based color tablet. The new releases and low price points are obviously meant to test Apple’s stranglehold on the tablet market. Thing is, does Amazon have enough pull to become a serious competitor in that realm: namely in regards to the Fire?
The Fire’s major draw, as previously stated, is its attractive price. Tablets are steadily becoming more commonplace by the day. However many of them, especially iPads, are prohibitively expensive. The 7″ Kindle Fire, going by the spec sheet, could shake things up since it doubles as a tablet. NY Times says the device is supported by Amazon.com’s vast content library of 18 million songs, e-books, TV shows, movies and games. Android apps approved by Amazon will also show up. An unspecified amount of free Amazon Cloud Storage and a 30 day trial of Amazon Prime will be equipped to each Fire when it hits stores November 15th.
Some of the Fire’s design choices and services are worth keeping a cautious eye on. For instance, the device “only” has 8GB of internal storage with no flash memory support. Amazon would have you believe you’ll have more than enough space since you can keep your content in the cloud. Yet internet access has a funny way of screwing up when you least expect it. Also, to clear up confusion, Amazon Prime does come with free, unlimited access to instant videos. However these videos are marked as “Prime Videos” and the selection is pretty shallow: even worse than Netflix by a good amount. You’ll still have to come out of the pocket to rent and buy popular shows and movies not featured on Prime. There’s also no front or rear facing cameras.
In addition, and this isn’t really a knock, but we haven’t seen much of the Amazon Silk’s browser performance yet. Cloud powered browsing sounds interesting and could catch on if it’s implemented well. We’ll still have to wait and see if it’ll live up to its claims.
Time will evidently tell how well these Kindles will perform. Apple’s marketing and OSes currently has the buying public on lock. Plus using android as a tablet OS has been met with mixed results in the past. The latter point will be a big caveat for the Fire particularly considering how Amazon’s only shown concept videos so far. It can offer the world at a relatively low price but it won’t matter much if the user experience ifalters. I’m all for competition at the end of the day so hopefully Amazon can become a contender. In the meantime I’ll just keep using my computer.