The Amazon of iPads?

Bill Loguidice's picture

Amazon Fire tabletAmazon Fire tabletWell, the announcement that many of us have been waiting for has finally happened: Amazon is now into tablets. Besides updating their Kindle e-reader (e-ink) line with much-needed $79 (6" standard wi-fi, with ads) and $99 (6" touchscreen and wi-fi, with ads) models, placing them ever closer to "disposable", a la the paperbacks of the tablet hardcovers analogy, they also announced a 7" color tablet, the Kindle Fire, with reasonable specs for just $199.

While many were expecting downright gimped hardware, outside of the limited 8GB storage (this is mostly a cloud device), the dual core processor and reasonable resolution (1024x600@16mm colors) and battery life (~8 hours) say otherwise. The best part is the price and they'll seemingly have some flexibility with that as well going forward. As the TouchPad fiasco has shown, with the throngs clamoring for the $99 - $149 clear-outs, if you're going to go toe-to-toe with the iPad, you better come in with a fantastic price rather than comparable or even better specs. Now Amazon has positioned themselves ideally as a real iPad alternative, with a different form factor and the compelling narrative of Amazon services, which is about as close of a match as you'll get for the iTunes experience outside of, well, iTunes. I assume this will be a big success and will pave the way for a 10", premium tablet, which will in fact attempt to muscle in on the iPad's dominance. Even as an enthusiastic iPad 2 owner, I welcome the competition, and look forward to how this plays out. Frankly, while this won't have a major impact on the iPad's sales (at least for the foreseeable future), if I were a manufacturer of any other tablet, I'd be very scared right now. While the Kindle Fire is very much the embodiment of tablet-as-consumption device versus the productivity possibilities you have with the iPad or similarly powered Android tablets, it offers a truly viable option for those who don't need the latter, or simply want a device in-between their existing smartphone and 10" tablet. I have a feeling this will also impact the dedicated e-reader market, because the prices are really less than $100 apart if you consider the ad-free option from Amazon, but certainly the low end $79 model has room to drop even further. Once that hits $49, all bets are truly off, and there really would be little reason not to own one as your "tablet-lite" experience (with a focus on reading and outdoor usage) that you don't mind bringing to the beach. Good stuff!

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Bill Loguidice
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Well, he's wrong, except for

Well, he's wrong, except for #1, because yes, it IS a media consumption device, not a creation device, which is its intention. Not everyone needs a creation device though, right? Different stripes for different types and all that.

#2: There is likely going to be all of those apps, Netflix included. The primary focus will be on Amazon product and services, yes, but they won't be foolish and purposely block other apps. They can still get their piece of the pie and the competitive boost having competing product and services on their tablet.

3: Amazon Prime is not a requirement, though one month is included free. Amazon Prime is compelling enough on its own to not be a requirement in any way. Simply put, it really is a $199 tablet, whether you want all the neat stuff that goes along with Prime as well is up to you. Really all that Prime membership gets you anyway in terms of tablet-specific stuff is the Amazon streaming service. Nothing else on the tablet is tied to it.

4: Silly. There are tons of wi-fi only devices. The Whispernet concept will work exactly the same it does now on our existing Androids, iOS, consoles, handhelds, etc., be it an Amazon Kindle app or a Netflix app. Syncing across multiple devices is naturally dependent upon having some type of connection. This is nothing new.

5: Actually, there supposedly will be Flash support. But you know what, even if there isn't, Apple has proven that you don't need that crap Web wrapper anyway. As long as it supports HTML5, that's all that matter anymore. The shift is already happening. Again, though, it probably will have it, so whether Flash is good or bad is probably moot.

6, 7 and 8: Not a deal breaker. Again, you're comparing a $199 tablet to a minimum $499 tablet. Amazon will deliver sufficient content - including apps - where there should be no particular need to go outside the Amazon infrastructure. Yeah, those who root their Android devices to make them work the way they think they should won't be happy, but that's not the average consumer who will have more than enough content from Amazon. I actually don't get why the Android fanboys are so up in arms anyway, as they should happy there will more Android tablet app development (finally, a specific tablet to rally around), even if it's initially targeted to the Amazon store. It should be relatively trivial to make it more broadly compatible and bring it to all the other Android stores.

9: Again, not a valid concern until we see evidence of that worst case scenario. What this is is a way to speed up mobile Web browsing, which I think is a welcome concept.

10: 8GB IS small, but again, the concept is to use the cloud, something we're all increasingly doing anyway. If you're the type of person that needs lots and lots of storage, then you're probably the type of person prepared to pay $500+ for a high end tablet.

11: That seems to be a rather limited definition of what a tablet is. Not everyone wants or needs the unlimited ability to do whatever they want with their device and all the pluses and negatives that go along with it. I think it's remarkably short-sighted not to see the benefit of a relatively cheap consumption-only device and how that can appeal to a broad cross-section of individuals. Again, it's not like there aren't better options out there, like the iPad 2 or a few of the Android tablets, but then you're talking a whole different price point.

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clok1966
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to bad
Matt Barton wrote:

Shane gave me permission to post his comment here:

Shane R. Monroe wrote:

1) It is not a tablet. It is a 7" Amazon media consumption device.

2) Forget about Netflix, Hulu, HBO, CBS, etc. You'll never see anything on that device that Amazon doesn't want you to see. Yes you have Amazon Video, but as the Netflix people LOVE to point out, the selection is paltry compared to other services.

3) Amazon Prime is a great deal at $79 (you get one month free) - but this device will be miserable without it - so while the device is $199, throw your first year onto the price out of the gate - which brings the price to $278. In addition to your Netflix habit, you're going to put out $6 a month for Amazon Prime too.

4) WhisperNet support does not mean "3G" - it means WhisperNet works only when you have Wifi available. Those with 3G Kindles understand why this is less advantageous. If you're reading a book without Wifi available, then try to read it elsewhere, it won't sync.

5) You see any mention of Adobe Flash support? That's right - there isn't. They don't want you playing games for free on the web when they have an App Store to force you to buy games (does this sound familiar to you?) While they do mention it now, they play it down - big time. My guess? They will let their content through (videos) and ads ... but when it comes to a "real" flash game, something will be prohibitive.

6) Zero Google Apps. Forget all the good things that Google brings to the table: Maps, Navigation, Gmail, Docs, Plus, etc etc etc. You don't have them - and you're not going to get them. That includes the Google Market.

7) The Amazon App store will lock out apps that aren't designed with the Fire in mind - they even tell you that.

8) Forget sideloading apps. Amazon will ensure there is no rooting, sideloading. How? They aren't using pure Android as the core - they are using a hybrid that will surely lock out all methods of side loading and developer tasks. Easy enough.

9) Amazon Silk. Because Silk uses Amazon's own servers as proxies, you NEVER get pure internet access. This means Amazon can, at their leisure, block or deny access to web content they don't want you having access to. Oh, and wait and see if they allow you to install any third party browsers .. My guess? No.

10) No external storage or means to increase your storage. 8GB isn't a lot of space for a media hungry consumer - and cloud access isn't assured because you'll be tethered to WiFi.

11) I'm going to repeat #1. This is not a tablet. It's never going to BE a tablet. It is a Kindle - an Amazon content rendering device with very limited, restricted access to 3rd Party apps and content.

You ... have ... been ... warned.

Sounds like Apple not only influnced them with the whole tablet deal.. but how you use it too! (sarcasm, I dont like apples policies.. but I can live all of them but the one with them deciding what apps (non harmfull) that I can have, bit miffed about the whole flash thing too) Good thing.. they can all be hacked Ipad and this new Amazon one (im sure).. he does sound a bit negative.. When Bill said Cult of Android I was kinda smirking as I know Bill likes his apple stuff (or it appears that way to me.. much Like I like my Android stuff) so it was thinking kinda pot calling kettle black.. but Billl does use logic so I cant pigion hole him and I cant disagree with much of any of his comments on Apple.. this guys does seem a bit like Micheal Moore.. all one side never mention the good.. only the bad it gets more people riled up! it wouldnt be to bad if he also had mentioned what it would do A one sided argument no matter how good is not the way to make your point. he does bring up some great points, just in the wrong way..

Bill Loguidice
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Absolutely, Clok, we all have

Absolutely, Clok, we all have our biases and preferences - and it's typically for the stuff we actually own versus the stuff that we don't - but it becomes tedious when someone lets that overrun everything about themselves and conversations become completely one-sided with no acknowledgement of the possibilities for alternatives. As I've aged, I've struggled to be as tolerant of that as I used to be--I really don't have the same fun I used to have having endless go-nowhere arguments/debates with such people.

I certainly have my own favorites - for instance, of this console generation, it's the Xbox 360 - but to use you as an example, when we were talking about media center devices and your specific needs I had an open discussion with you about the pluses and minuses of both the 360 and PS3, rather than trying to push my own agenda. That's my point with this tablet stuff--I'm trying to remain open to the possibilities, while I feel the "other side" only cares about one thing and one thing only and that's the platform and/or strategy that they think everyone must be on, or, frankly, they're a moron or sheep (at least that's my perception of that belief). For example, it doesn't matter that some of the smartest people in the world use and support the iPhone because it works well for their needs and requirements, it only matters that "Apple has a closed system" or "Apple is evil" or "People only buy Apple because they're brainwashed", etc. Instead of being clear-headed enough about the perfectly valid reasons of why it's a success, it seems like it's just enough that it's not THEIR platform of choice (and for the umpteenth time for the record, ALL large corporations are "evil" by default, so let's not paint one mega-super-corp as better than any other mega-super-corp--they're all about the benjamins first and foremost).

Anyway, I could go on and on about this topic, but you get my drift. I feel like I learned the childhood error of my ways where if you didn't have a C-64 and you owned an Apple II or *gasp* Atari 8-bit, you were "wrong". Today I can see that we all had our pluses and minuses in owning what we did, and that's what made everything so interesting. Same thing today with this Kindle Fire--sure, it's not a match for the iPad or the top Android tablets, but if we really look at its objectives, it kind of makes sense for a large group of people. THOSE are the kind of conversations I wish to have and to be a part of on Armchair Arcade, not the type where someone digs in and won't budge from a position for mostly emotional reasons.

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Nathaniel Tolbert
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Joined: 11/06/2010
to his comment 8) Amazon has

to his comment 8) Amazon has already said they know people are going to root the tablet, and they will not take preventative steps against it. They did say they will not support rooted Fires, but they will not stop you from doing it. They also stated that the android store will be on the tablet as that is a prerequisite of using the Android Operating system. This person sounds very jaded and pissed off that Amazon is trying to release a tablet that uses the Android OS with a more cohesive front than the standard tablets. I find the Fire an interesting tablet. Yes, I own an Asus Transformer and that is a very slick tablet for me, but this tablet could have some serious potential. Also what Shane fails to mention is, once the contracts that Netflix currently have end, how much media is going to disappear? Remember they no longer have Stars, which from rough numbers I've seen could contribute to up to 30% of their streaming media. How will netflix fare again Amazon streaming then?

The Kindle Fire seems to me to be a sideways swipe at trying to take on the iPad. It's attempting to offer a homogenized front to access all of your electronic media needs. Where as this isn't something that I need, as I enjoy the aspects of finding an app that does what I need, and then reviewing whether it's good enough or not for my need, for a lot of people this is a major boon. Will it compete with the iPad? I doubt that very much. The iPad is too ingrained into people's minds as being the only tablet. I think people will buy it based on the fact of the centralized distribution function of all media, but I don't think it will be enough to make the tablet a success.

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Bill Loguidice
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Lots of buzz
Nathaniel Tolbert wrote:

The Kindle Fire seems to me to be a sideways swipe at trying to take on the iPad. It's attempting to offer a homogenized front to access all of your electronic media needs. Where as this isn't something that I need, as I enjoy the aspects of finding an app that does what I need, and then reviewing whether it's good enough or not for my need, for a lot of people this is a major boon. Will it compete with the iPad? I doubt that very much. The iPad is too ingrained into people's minds as being the only tablet. I think people will buy it based on the fact of the centralized distribution function of all media, but I don't think it will be enough to make the tablet a success.

I think the Amazon tablet is already a success and will, well within a year, easily be the number two tablet (not a difficult feat). What sucks is that just like with the Kindle, it's doubtful Amazon will release sales figures, which makes estimates/predictions for the future of a more fully featured 10" Amazon tablet difficult. At least the discussion will finally go from Apple and everyone else to Apple and Amazon and everyone else in tablets.

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