Amazon's Kindle: Igniting the fire

Amazon is set to launch its new tablet, Kindle Fire, by the end of this year.

Sameen Amer November 02, 2011
Amazon's Kindle: Igniting the fire

When Apple announced the impending launch of its tablet computer last year, cynics quickly reached the judgement that the device would never catch on. Less than two years later, it is clear that the iPad is massively successful. Moreover, the device has also sparked great interest in tablet computers, rejuvenating the portable computing genre and incentivising other companies to venture into the tablet market.

Now entering this hugely competitive arena is Amazon — the world’s largest online retailer and the developer of the immensely popular Kindle eBook reader. Based on the company’s core strength, their new device, the Kindle Fire, is intended to leverage on the success of the Kindle brand while offering added features.

Launching soon

A step up from the black and white e-readers the company is known for, the new 7-inch colour tablet has a dual-core processor and 8GB internal storage — apparently enough for 80 apps, plus 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 book. The Kindle Fire also has up to eight hours of battery life, makes use of Wi-Fi connectivity and runs on a customised Android-based platform.

The device will let users connect to the Amazon Appstore as well as allowing them access to the company’s treasure trove of digital content at least if they reside in the States. It remains to be seen whether Amazon will pay attention to the market outside the US when it comes to their services, including Ebooks, movies, television shows, and music, and facilitate free cloud storage for all Amazon digital content. But perhaps the most talked about feature of the Kindle Fire is the “cloud-accelerated browser” called Amazon Silk, that uses ”split browser” architecture to leverage the computing speed and power of the Amazon Web Services cloud. The browser aims to optimize traffic flows, using techniques like prefetching pages and caching content.

Facing the competition

When the Kindle Fire goes on sale on November 15 in the US (global release dates are currently not available), it will trigger a great deal of speculation about how it fares in the fiercely competitive tablet market, considering that the device will be not only be competing against the iPad but also other Android-based tablets and various other devices, like the Nook Color and Blackberry PlayBook.

A closer look at the tablet’s features suggests that Amazon is offering a product different from Apple’s iPad atleast. The Kindle Fire is smaller and has fewer features than the iPad, but it does have one substantial selling point: it is considerably cheaper. The pricing could make Kindle Fire attractive to some customers — its price tag (US$199) is significantly less than that of the iPad at its launch (US$499). The lower price predictably has a value trade-off, and the tablet clearly has its limitations; unlike the iPad, Fire lacks the camera, microphone and 3G capabilities, and has a smaller screen compared to the current market leader (9.7-inches).

Overall, Kindle Fire’s focus seems to be on offering fewer features at a lower cost, and the gadget is perhaps best suited for simple content consumption, especially if the content comes from Amazon’s own services. The company will be hoping that their strong brand name will make the Kindle Fire a contender in the race for tablet market share, while also using the tablet craze to help them further capitalise on their content-rich ecosphere.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2011.


Ruan van Heerden | 12 years ago | Reply

I'm not so sure about "fewer features at a lower cost" Amazon doesn't call it a tablet at all - even though I'm sure it more than qualifies to be one. Personally, I think this is one step forward in cloud computing and tablet computers at a more affordable rate. On the product page you'll see comments like: "The Fire gives me the features I want at a price point that's less than half of the iPad 2. I can check my email, browse the Internet, maybe play a few games, most importantly, I can read magazines in color on a Kindle." - Gizmodo

"Amazon’s Kindle Fire is likely to be the first successful tablet not sold by Apple, and there are several good reasons for it: the low price of $199, the convenient, portable size of 7 inches, and a rich catalog of books, movies and music offered through Amazon’s Web-based services." - Ars Technica

This is a 'wait and see' - maybe we'll all be pleasantly surprised?

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