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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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
To small, The kindle rocks as

To small, The kindle rocks as a reader.. cant understate that.. sunlight and it works.. wow.. makes all other (color) readers look crap.. My main complaint on portable devices is they only work in dark areas.. Im outside when its nice.. to dark and dreary i stay inside.. I think the only thing this has going for it is the AMAZON brand name.. and I cant see that being enough.. there are a ton of Android based color tablets comparable to this.. none have made a dent.. not even a footnote. the only reason this one is that big name AMAZON.. but then again.. i never thought anybody would want an E-reader.. and I love mine with use... Seeing one in action may change my mind.. goign to be intersting.. Several Win based tablets are showing up at the Asian tech shows... specs are awsome(much faster, almost the same battery life, expandable, replaceabel batteries, next gen touch screens (of course by release they will most likely only be the same as the Ipad3).. if they can hang onto those specs (and stay within Ipads price).. I cant see a reason to get an Ipad.. they will use the OS 75% of the world does and do eveything the Ipad does.. but again, only time will tell..

be interesting to see im the AMAZON name and marketing can succed where so many have failed with the same product.
be

Bill Loguidice
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Some comments
clok1966 wrote:

To small, The kindle rocks as a reader.. cant understate that.. sunlight and it works.. wow.. makes all other (color) readers look crap.. My main complaint on portable devices is they only work in dark areas.. Im outside when its nice.. to dark and dreary i stay inside.. I think the only thing this has going for it is the AMAZON brand name.. and I cant see that being enough.. there are a ton of Android based color tablets comparable to this.. none have made a dent.. not even a footnote. the only reason this one is that big name AMAZON.. but then again.. i never thought anybody would want an E-reader.. and I love mine with use... Seeing one in action may change my mind.. goign to be intersting.. Several Win based tablets are showing up at the Asian tech shows... specs are awsome(much faster, almost the same battery life, expandable, replaceabel batteries, next gen touch screens (of course by release they will most likely only be the same as the Ipad3).. if they can hang onto those specs (and stay within Ipads price).. I cant see a reason to get an Ipad.. they will use the OS 75% of the world does and do eveything the Ipad does.. but again, only time will tell..

be interesting to see im the AMAZON name and marketing can succed where so many have failed with the same product.
be

That's the key, Amazon's infrastructure and services offering, along with the low price, is what makes this particular non-iPad tablet viable versus what anyone else can do. No one will notice random-foreign-company x's tablet, no matter how feature-rich or competitively priced, but they sure will take notice of something branded - and most importantly - SUPPORTED by Amazon.

I can agree with you on one thing. For outside reading in sunlight, eInk is far superior to traditional screens. In all other cases though, I find tablets comfortable to read and much more versatile since they can be used in the dark. I think for the average consumer - who is surely a casual reader at best - a tablet screen will be just fine.

I agree with other analysts that this will be the only tablet of note other than an iPad prior to the release of a Windows 8 tablet, and it's questionable how well Windows 8 tablets will do, particularly outside the enterprise.

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Catatonic
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Joined: 05/20/2006
Glad to see they introduced a

Glad to see they introduced a touch-screen e-ink Kindle. Recently gave my dad a Kobo reader with the same screen and it's pretty much the ideal system.

Looks like the new Amazon stuff is U.S. only for now, they are being cautious, rightfully so.

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
I noticed on Google+ that

I noticed on Google+ that Shane sure is down on this device.

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Bill Loguidice
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Bias
Matt Barton wrote:

I noticed on Google+ that Shane sure is down on this device.

I don't keep track of Shane on Google+ anymore, so I don't know what he said. I know he's part of the cult of Android and this is a threat to that because it downplays the Android aspects and does its own thing, so I'm not surprised he'd be against it. The Kindle Fire is a mainstream consumption device, not a high end tablet, and as the former and not the latter, it succeeds in what it sets out to accomplish. As I said, taking the iPad head-on has thus far not worked, so it's good that Amazon is trying a different approach. It can attempt a full-on iPad assault at a later date with a larger, more expensive device.

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clok1966
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maybe
Bill Loguidice wrote:
Matt Barton wrote:

I noticed on Google+ that Shane sure is down on this device.

I don't keep track of Shane on Google+ anymore, so I don't know what he said. I know he's part of the cult of Android and this is a threat to that because it downplays the Android aspects and does its own thing, so I'm not surprised he'd be against it. The Kindle Fire is a mainstream consumption device, not a high end tablet, and as the former and not the latter, it succeeds in what it sets out to accomplish. As I said, taking the iPad head-on has thus far not worked, so it's good that Amazon is trying a different approach. It can attempt a full-on iPad assault at a later date with a larger, more expensive device.

hook um then real um in with the bigger stuff.. I never thouhgt of it that way.. but it is probebly the best aveneue. I'm starting to see some possiblities i wasnt seeing before. This might be the device that grows into the an end result nobody (but bill) saw.. I know when Amazon does stuff people notice.. when Amazon started ist MP3 stuff (while i have no idea if its succesfull or not.. I only use it when i get my $2 free every few months) apple stock took a hit, when it started its Video stuff, Netflix took a hit.. I see apple took a hit when this anouncement when live (which is silly and proves how STUPID most stock market investores are).. this was announced months ago.. and its not released for anotehr month.. if its going to effect the market shares of anybody it wont be until its released.. its like the stock market has blinders on untill its front page news..If it had dipped when it was annoucned months ago.. or at release if it SOLD well.. i would understand..

i wonder if success with the Kindle has blinded AMAZON on the foothold the Ipad has? I wonder if they see this as a somthing that will compete directly or just a baby step onto somthing bigger and better later as Bill says. I never saw myslef as a kindle user.. so who knows.

Bill Loguidice
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More analysis
clok1966 wrote:

... hook um then real um in with the bigger stuff.. I never thouhgt of it that way.. but it is probebly the best aveneue. I'm starting to see some possiblities i wasnt seeing before. This might be the device that grows into the an end result nobody (but bill) saw.. I know when Amazon does stuff people notice.. when Amazon started ist MP3 stuff (while i have no idea if its succesfull or not.. I only use it when i get my $2 free every few months) apple stock took a hit, when it started its Video stuff, Netflix took a hit.. I see apple took a hit when this anouncement when live (which is silly and proves how STUPID most stock market investores are).. this was announced months ago.. and its not released for anotehr month.. if its going to effect the market shares of anybody it wont be until its released.. its like the stock market has blinders on untill its front page news..If it had dipped when it was annoucned months ago.. or at release if it SOLD well.. i would understand..

i wonder if success with the Kindle has blinded AMAZON on the foothold the Ipad has? I wonder if they see this as a somthing that will compete directly or just a baby step onto somthing bigger and better later as Bill says. I never saw myslef as a kindle user.. so who knows.

Pretty much. Barnes & Noble stock took a big hit and with good reason. B&N has had good success with the Nook Color, but it's now priced higher and is less capable than the Kindle Fire. B&N is coming out with a second Nook Color soon and maybe it will match or exceed (though exceed would be a tough call) the Kindle Fire on specs, though highly unlikely on price. Even if it does somehow hit at the $199 price point to match Amazon, there is a HUGE infrastructure gap. As stated, a huge component of Apple's secret sauce is iTunes, a cohesive ecosystem to get all your apps and media, and that's something that Amazon above all others can come close to meeting in most areas, and in some areas even exceed. That above all else is what gives the Kindle Fire so much potential for success and what should have a company like B&N absolutely quaking in their respective boots. We could very well be seeing B&N relegated to further niche status in 2012, and they may not even make it through 2013 depending on how things break.

So yeah, initially Amazon's announcement is a major blow to B&N and all non-iPad tablets, since there's still no evidence the masses want anything but an iPad that's not dirt cheap. Once Amazon picks up marketshare with their consumption tablet, which again, makes it distinctly different from most other tablets, they can release the true iPad competitor. By then, the iPad 3 will certainly be out so they'll have a tough order to slightly exceed specs and capabilities for slightly less money, but it's not an outrageous thought. I see outside chance a 10" tablet from Amazon somewhere around this time next year, but more likely 2013, with 2012 just seeing a Kindle Fire 2 (7"), perhaps with a few updates like a camera and what-not (usage of the current Kindle Fire I think will guide what features Amazon adds in)...

I also think that eInk readers HAVE to play exclusively in the sub-$100 price range now. They have no choice. I still maintain that despite the better readability of eInk, for most people, reading on a tablet will work just fine, they're more flexible with other content. The good thing is is that I see the $49 ereader becoming a reality in 2012, most likely what is presently the $79 subsidized version from Amazon. At $49 for an ereader with a great store behind it (and maybe that library-like book subscription service to boot), it can last in the market and be a success indefinitely.

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Bill Loguidice
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In typical RIM fashion, in

In typical RIM fashion, in response to the Kindle Fire at $199, they dropped the 16GB BlackBerry PlayBook to $299.99: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2011/09/blackberry-playbooks-get-200... . While theoretically the BlackBerry PlayBook is a more capable tablet and worth the $100 premium, it also lacks the infrastructure and key apps to make it a worthwhile purchase. As usual, too little, too late for RIM.

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
I notice a couple of the

I notice a couple of the closeout (Not WOOT, but like woot, suprising how many there are.. and i look at um all)sites had um for $249 last week.. at least it was a balckberry tablet not sure how many of those there are.. of the 100's of phones in the company we only have 2 guys that wont move off blackberry.. we are about 30% iphone 70% android and .10% blackberry.. when you consider we where almost 50/50 blackberry and WinCE phones about 4 years ago. How quick it changes..

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Shane gave me permission to

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.

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