Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Kindle Fire tablet

The big news in technology today is Amazon's introduction of their new tablet pc, the Kindle Fire.  This touchscreen only tablet is meant to compete head-to-head (or chip-to-chip) with Apple's Ipad series.

The folks over at CNET have extensive coverage of the event, centered around a press conference in Manhattan with Amazon's president, Jeff Bezos.  Features wise, Amazon is touting a screen with better resolution than the Ipad 2, protected by Gorilla Glass, which is presumably a tough shield against mishaps.

Kindle's current Whispersync technology used to download books to Kindles will now carry movies and TV shows.  A welcome feature of the new Fire is the ability to listen to music while you read.  Personally, I'm curious how the new screen is for reading simple text.  I don't see how it can be as good as the other Kindle's electronic ink, but then again, with a tablet pc, most users will be doing a lot of activities other than reading. 

I assume that Amazon will have some sort of cloud technology involved for accessing content, but I don't have solid information on that yet.  Bezos's presentation did mention a new web browser, named Amazon Silk, which is interesting.

Of course the big news is the price.  A 16GB Ipad2 sells for $499.  The new Kindle Fire ships 15 November at $199.  However, the CNET folks pointed out that to use all of Fire's features, users will need to join Amazon Prime, which I believe is $80.  This service provides free shipping of items, and now will include streaming content to the Fire, but it is an added cost.

I think the real fight will occur in the price and content.  Yes, people are interested in the specifications of the devices, but ultimately, it's about price and content.  If Amazon can deliver a variety of decent content at a low price, the Fire should do very well.

(Disclosure:  I own a standard Kindle, and sell my novels on Amazon.  I am also working to have my books sold in Apple's iBookstore.)

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