The Kindle Fire was announced last week and although it’s a very different tablet to the iPad, it has the potential to be as successful.
7-inch Amazon Tablet
Amazon have opted to launch the 7-inch (measured diagonally) version of the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet first. It’s expected that we’ll see a 10-inch version at some point in the future. For comparison, the iPad comes in at 8.9 inches. But by opting to tackle the 7-inch tablet market first, Amazon have avoided true comparisons with the iPad.
7-inch tablets already on the market include the Blackberry PlayBook, HTC Flyer and Acer Iconia A100. None of these are particularly dominant and the bestselling tablet in this size is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7-inch tablet that launched in 2010 and is now becoming considerably dated.
Amazon have decent experience with 7-inch format due to their existing Kindle e-readers – they’re playing to their strengths. 7-inch tablets are lighter and easier to store in a jacket pocket or small bag than the larger format so are considered more portable.
Kindle Fire Software
Again Amazon have done something quite different with the operating system than others in the past. The Fire uses Google’s Android operating system but effectively has been totally customised. Most other Android tablets have used the stock Android interface with some tweaks to improve usability. HTC’s Sense interface customised this further on the HTC Flyer but the Kindle Fire totally changes the interface. The best way to describe this is that it looks like a bookshelf. You load your content from Amazon (books, music and media files) directly on here and tap on the files to access them. It’s all very simple but highly usable, not intimidating for a less experienced user and does an effective job.
Kindle Fire Unique Stripped Down Approach
Amazon have gone for a less-is-more approach. Most other tablet are feature rich but Amazon have removed cameras, SD card/HDMI ports or even a microphone. The Fire also only has Wi-Fi connectivity so you’ll need to be connected to your home Wi-Fi network or a Wi-Fi hotspot to get online. A MiFi device could also be used to get online when you can’t get to a Wi-Fi signal. Effectively this tablet looks like it will do the core tasks of watching videos, playing simple games, browsing the web, ereader (books and magazines), email, music player, calendar, memos and other simple apps very well. It won’t do video chat and more complex games or apps. The functions it will do though will suit many consumers very well though given the price point.
Kindle Fire Killer Specs
So what are the best bits expected about the kindle Fire hardware?
- 1024 x 600 screen resolution – this should mean the screen is sharp
- IPS screen – expect a bright, colourful screen that’s responsive and is viewable even if you’re not looking at it straight-on.
- Dual core processor – this is as powerful as the best Android tablets available so we can expect a nippy performance.
- 8GB internal memory – this is light and very limited once you start storing video and music on the tablet. Expect cloud storage to play a major part of storing your media files on the Internet. You’d then be able to access them via a Wi-Fi connection. However if you’re out of range of this Wi-Fi connection you’re limited somewhat.
- Battery life – this remains to be seen but we’re told it should last up to 8 hours of continuous use. That’s a decent length even if it’s a couple of hours less than an iPad.
Kindle Fire Speedy Web Browser
The browser on the new Kindle will work in conduction with Cloud services. This means it does the simple work itself but pulls on Internet virtual storage for more heavy components of a web page. In this way it’s expected to be super speedy at loading web pages.
Amazon App Store
This is the feature that sets the Kindle Fire on the route to success and means it’s easy to access new content and apps for your tablet. The eco-system is the bit that many other tablets have come up short on and so failed to challenge Apple’s dominance that combines the Apple App Store eco-system with the iPad. Consumers need to know they can get lots of software specifically made for their tablet. Android app developers haven’t totally bought into developing for tablets and the range of Android apps designed for a slate rather than a smartphone are limited in comparison to the iPad. Amazon’s expertise in retailing should change this and encourage developers that there’s significant money to be made in developing apps for the Kindle Fire.
Cheap Kindle Fire – the key selling point
The Amazon tablet will be low priced in comparison to other mainstream tablets. This means it falls much more into the range of an impulse buy, cheap alternative to an iPad from a respected brand name, or even Christmas or birthday present. Imagine this popping up on the Amazon website when someone is searching for an iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab – it’s likely to tempt a parent or relative into buying a cheaper option. Amazon can afford to subsidise the price of the hardware too as they know that anybody buying this tablet will be buying lots of digital content from them too.
Kindle Fire Verdict
There we have it, the Kindle Fire is not about bells and whistles, it is essentially a media consumption service with differentiating points of a great screen, powerful processor, speedy browser and low price. Amazon have indicated that this isn’t about hardware, the device primarily gives users a way of accessing all the Amazon digital products – books, video, games and apps. Couple this with Amazon’s ability to sell and we have a success in the making.
The final piece of the puzzle is when this device will launch outside of the US. Unfortunately we still don’t know and so it’s unlikely the launch date will be in 2011. I’ll keep you updated as soon as there’s an update to this.
For the time being US customers can pre-order the Kindle Fire at Amazon.com.
Image Source: Amazon.com