Amazon makes Kindle Fire iPad competitor official, also offers cheap new Kindle Touch

Amazon makes Kindle Fire iPad competitor official, also offers cheap new Kindle Touch

Amazon has announced their iPad competitor and as rumor had it, it's called the Kindle Fire. The biggest news is the price -- only $199 for a 14.6 ounce, 7-in IPS 1024x600 169dpi display. It's dual core, Wi-Fi only, and has only 8GB of storage (plus free Amazon cloud) but again -- $199.

If you're looking for something that resembles the BlackBerry PlayBook, is running a fork of Android OS, and comes with all the content Amazon is happy to sell you, this could be a very compelling product. But if $199 is still too much for you to spend on a Kindle, just wait -- there's more! They've also announced an ultra-cheap classic-style Kindle for just $79, and a new Kindle Touch at $99 for Wi-Fi only and $149 for 3G. Those are the prices with ad-subsidized "special offers", however. They'll cost you $30-$40 more or so if you want them clean and ad-free.

Also, Amazon remains focused mainly on the US market and its international content offerings don't look to be improving just yet (though I'll continue to hold to hope given all the money Apple is making outside the US.)

Kudos to Amazon, though, for doing what Apple so far hasn't done -- release the iPad shuffle and iPad nano tablet price-points into the US market.

And hey, if you're thinking about pre-ordering, here are some handy links that let you test out the non-Apple waters, but still support your favorite Mobile Nations sites at the same time. Win. Win.

For more on the Kindle Fire, jump over to Android Central's new Kindle Fire Forums, then jump back here and tell us what you think -- did Amazon just announce the first viable iPad competitor?

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Amazon makes Kindle Fire iPad competitor official, also offers cheap new Kindle Touch

64 Comments

I like this obvious dig at Apple from the Amazon page:
There are two types of companies: those that work hard to charge customers more, and those that work hard to charge customers less. Both approaches can work. We are firmly in the second camp.

Weeell... Amazon wants to charge people less for hardware, that's true, but that's because they're only using the hardware to get people to buy more eBooks.

Not just ebooks, their entire offering [movies, books, shirts, shoes, etc].
Same game Apple runs in reverse. I like both approaches. We'll see how it all shakes out though.

When asked about international Amazon said "Stay tuned" so it is certainly a matter of when, not if.
I don't see this as a competitor to the ipad, I don't think Amazon does either. Its an e-book reader that runs apps, not a tablet that runs an e-book app.

i think it more as a tablet that also is a ebook...they most difinately making this a media tablet cause if they main use for this tablet was to be a ebook then they would not have bothered with dual core...obviously they are going to market it as a ebook reader more as they are probably targeting all those kindle buyers who want to also do media which i think is a smart move..

did Amazon just announce the first viable iPad competitor?
In terms of features and capabilities, no. In terms of going-to-take-away-some-iPad-sales, yes.
I don't think this is going to have a huge immediate impact on iPad sales, but it could devastate the general Android tablet market. The iPad is the 800-lb gorilla of the tablet world, and competitors have to answer the question "why should I get this instead of an iPad?" These competitors have to answer with:
1) It does something more/better than the iPad
2) It does as much or nearly as much, and costs less than the iPad.
The Kindle Fire takes aim and basically owns question #2 for now. Other tablet manufacturers were having a hard enough time achieving price parity with Apple; there is no way they can match Amazon here. For them, that second question just got a whole lot narrower, from "cheaper than the iPad" to "cheaper than the iPad, more expensive than the Kindle Fire, but does more than the Kindle Fire." And that is going to be one tough niche to fill.
Of course, there remains the niche of "does something more/better than the iPad," but the current Android tablets do not meet that yet (IMHO). In that sense, maybe the Kindle will light a competitive fire (snicker) under Google and its partners to improve even more.

I wonder what kind of loss Amazon is taking to move these? At $199 there has to be a HUGE loss unless (and this may not be that far off..) RIM scaled back on units being shipped and the hardware was basically let go at a cut rate by the manufacturer to make up for what they lost from RIM. The Playbook wasn't exactly setting the tablet world ablaze so this seems possible doesn't it?
and even if Amazon IS taking a huge loss at $199 the amount of books they'll sell should help offset that bigtime. They're in a great position here with their own bookstore and appstore. Probably the best position of any of these companies save for Apple who has the same and more.

I doubt they're taking a loss. I've long felt these electronics are grossly overpriced. $499 for an iPad and $649 for an unlocked iPhone. A bit backwards there and Apple is making straight profit from these devices.
At $199, their profit margin is probably much lower than Apple's but you're right in their store making up some of that difference.
Look at AWS. They reduce the prices way more than any competitor, for seemingly no reason. That's why I dig Amazon. It isn't about getting rich, per se.

Yeah, I get the extra radios, etc but still feels overpriced [including Android tablets that cost the same as a low level PC].

Well the issue with Android tablet prices is the attempt to match Apple mark ups. Manufacturers don't want to end up in the same position they are in with netbook margins for tablets. The reason Amazon can do a break even and Apple COULD do a break even if they wanted is because of the after market content sales. Device manufacturers on the other hand don't have that option so they need to get decent sales margins.

@Orion Antares
Man, I always wondered why they [Android ODMs] pushed the spec limits and kept the price at Apple's set iPad price. I'd absolutely love a worse camera on my Tab 10.1 if it meant it was $399 vs $499. Imagine a Tab for $399. They prob would have flew off the shelves [not more than if it were $299 though but I'm reaching there]. Better specs and lower price than the iPad = a winning combo [sans the experience argument here]. :)

The thing is that a worse camera wouldn't really translate to that kind of savings, having no camera might.
When it comes to this kind of design and the costs of manufacturing it's all a balancing act. If they're adding a camera, using a lower rez camera wouldn't have provided enough savings to keep the margins they are targeting. Removing the camera completely may have and then they could have translated that savings into sale price.
On top of that there is also consumer perception, which B&N, HP, and now Amazon all done things to sabotage. HP by liquidating a high level tablet and B&N and now Amazon by offering feature-slimmed down tablets at low margins to push their content channels. Those tablets are kind of muddying the waters for the other manufacturers. Apple is the only one that could drop their margins and still do well because they're essentially double-dipping right now. They're selling iPads at premium margins like the ODMs want to do while also using them as a content portal like B&N and Amazon.

I'm willing to bet there is more than enough loaded on the back end that even if there is a loss on each one sold they will more than make up for it. My wife can't put her Kindle down. I'll personally grab a Kindle Fire to go along with the iPad and all these other devices (Zoom, Galaxy Tab 10.1, 3 Androids and iPhone4). This is the first 'Real' self sustaining tablet, like the iPad IMHO, that with Amazon's deep integration can go far. It's going to be exciting watching this segment of the market explode now.

To call the Kindle Fire a "competitor" to the iPad is like calling the HP Veer a competitor with the iPhone. For another comparison, it's like calling the Mazda Miata a competitor to the SL-Class Mercedes Benz, not even on the same level. Certainly they're similar but they're not nearly targeting the same market or consumers. That's not meant as a shot at the Kindle Fire, it's targeting an underserved, separate segment of the tablet market, it's just disingenuous to call it a direct competitor of the iPad..

Travis, I completely agree. As a former Miata owner, that is a great analogy. The Miata is one of best cars I've ever owned, but it isn't the same thing, as say a great family sedan. Both can be excellent, but serve different purposes. That analogy seems, at least currently, pretty good when applied to the Kindle. Sure, they both are computing devices and tablets in general, but have many differences, advantages, and disadvantages.
Sure, they are competitors in the sense that many people might only buy one or the other IF they are really making a choice between them. Some are only going to consider one or the other in the first place, as only one of them really meets their needs. Similarly, for some, buying a Miata means they won't buy the Mercedes... but I'm not really sure most would consider the Miata a Mercedes sedan competitor in the car market, even though they both can get from point A to B and transport people. Great analogy!

The Mercedes SL550 is a roadster like the Miata, not a sedan, but I suppose that's not completely relevant although the belief that I was referring to a sedan makes it seem like an "apples to oranges" comparison rather than a "granny smith to red delicious" comparison.

Good point, I kind of missed that. I'm not that familiar with Mercedes (more of a BMW/Porsche guy here). But, I think that it really is an apples/oranges comparison without the Kindle having iOS and App Store comparable to Apple's. Again, that isn't to put down what Amazon has made... I think it is excellent... but kind of a reality of the situation.

This is the iPad clone to rule all other iPad clones. I think it will easily crush all other droid-based iPad clones, yet remain a very distant #2 behind iPad in terms of sales and profits.
Too bad for Google that Amazon has cut out the Android profit layer and replaced it with their own profit layer. Missed a real opportunity there.

The product I don't get is the Kindle Touch. Who would want one of these? I've got a Kindle now, and I'm planning on 'upgrading' to the new $79 dollar Kindle, since its so much smaller and lighter (18%, 30%) while keeping the same screen size. Small and light is what I want in a straight e-ink model, and the Touch (while smaller than existing kindles) will considerably heavier and bigger than the new basic model. Is moving from page to page by touching the screen really that big an advantage (is it an advantage at all)?

No, the issue is highlighting and taking notes. My wife has a current Kindle, and doing so is a total pain (enough so that I probably would never use one for any kind of academic or research purpose). On the other hand, I use Kindle App all the time on my iPad... take tons of notes and highlight. I used it the last year of my Masters program and it was a huge advantage... the previous Kindle would not have been.

I've got several students now that use Kindle's for this very purpose. It is small enough that it easily fits in the pockets or backpacks and it's not as fragile as an iPad. The new versions will only further enhance that functionality.
Also now that Kindle has public library support, and my students can get their textbooks on it at a lesser cost than traditional campus bookstores, if Amazon focuses on that it's a nice feather in their cap.

Wow, I almost can't imagine that. What level are these students at? If you have to do much note taking or highlighting, that would be a LOT of extra work and I'd think, frustrating. Other than being really light and compact, it isn't much good for notes. This new Kindle should fix that.
There is no way I could have kept up with the amount of reading and note taking required in the program I completed on a Kindle, without having it alongside a laptop (and then why not just use Kindle App on the laptop?)

Perhaps I should have been more clear. They have their textbooks (which I really wish was no longer a requirement but I digress) on the Kindle, not available for iPad by the way (just an observation I render no judgement on that) and using the note taking and highlighting functions it goes pretty quick. 2 of my students have also used Amazon's transcriptions service to get their notes in email form and that works great as well.
Another little advantage is the Kindle is available right in our bookstore on campus. It's an almost natural purchase once they see all the textbooks they can get right on the device without lugging around a big backpack. I really wish all this was available 20 yrs ago when I was in school.
Sorry for the confusion.

thats what people need to remember before comparing it directly with the ipad...the ipad is a media device first...the kindle fire is first a ebook reader and then a media device...i think for a $200 this is almost impulse buy for money...i for one will get one once it comes to the UK...i firmly believe that a tablet should not be more than a £250 and most definitely not be more expensive than laptops...it doesn't make sense especially considering spec wise laptops a way superior to tablet and most likely cost way more to make yet many are cheaper than tablets...also with this probably being a hit it will bring the sales down of the other tablets too.

Kudos to Amazon. It looks like they have done an excellent job. While I hope they keep making improvements to Kindle App on iOS, at least now there is a viable alternative should I ever need it for my Kindle book library. (though I'd certainly rather not have to ever have 2 devices... but this makes me feel better anyway)

Actually it's a media portal. that's what Amazon sees it as and it marketing it as, a portal to all their media offerings which include ebooks, music, video, and apps.

Exactly the point. This is a portal to everything that Amazon offers.
"Buy your goods here, keep your media in our cloud and oh by the way... Did we mention we happen to have this great little tool for $199 that can handle all of this for you?"

Wow, exceptional condescending tone for a very price conscious item in a very price conscious time. Very nice! tipb is losing me as a loyal member more and more with these very elementary write-ups. I understand there will undoubtedly be a bias, but you have went from product enthusiasts to competitor bashing. Kudos.

I hear you, I had to stop following Rene and Seth on Twitter. I like to stay up to date on all the tech and have everything from a Pre to an iPad, but their twitter feed was like it was coming straight from Apple's PR department.

First, in an article written by Rene I'm actually shocked at how even-handed this is. Nothing about how the iPad has "already won" or been there done that.
Second, the Fire would seem to be an indirect competitor to the iPad. People who want the full, rich iPad experience (10 inch screen, unparalleled app library) just won't find that on the Fire. In this case the iPad still has no direct competitor. But for people who want a smaller tablet (despite the protestations of Mr. Jobs) that can be used for reading books, watching videos, doing email or web browsing, then the Fire will be a compelling alternative, especially when you factor in the $300 price difference.
From some of the posts on here touting the iPad as a Mercedes and the Fire as a lowly Mazada, TiPb readers clearly aren't worried about price. But for a lot of people that price difference will be a check mark clearly in favor of the Fire. Plenty of folks can't afford to buy both a Mercedes and a Mazda -- they have to buy one or the other. So in that case, the Fire may leech some sales away from the iPad. A tablet experience, with a name that's well known and trusted by a lot of people (Amazon) at a lower price could convince some would-be iPad buyers to go the other way.

What's going to happen to iPad sales when the Kindle Fire 10" comes out early next year for $299 ????

Build quality? Have you looked at a Kindle? They are just as robust, if not more so, than the iPad. That's not hyperbole either. And keep in mind Amazon couldn't care less how Apple is doing with iPad. They sell them for Apple so they are making a cut of the money. The Kindle Fire is a way for Amazon to promote it's own services like their App Store, MP3, Kindle Books, and e commerce. They have that business model locked down better than anybody so this will be more than capable for them.

I agree to the extent that a person only wants to do such a limited amount of things with such a device (and I'm sure many do), it is a competitor as it gives these people a real other option. Before they would have just gone without or maybe bought an iPad. But, I think a lot of tablet folks actually do more, and will still want/need an iPad.

Not even close as a iPad competior, may a B&N Nook color rival, but not the iPad.
Again, a low cost ANDROID powered - iPad wannabe that will appeal only to those that will not spend the money for the BEST.
Move along, nothing worthwhile to see hear.
This is a YUGO, iPad is a Rolls Royce by comparison.

If I were Apple, I wouldn't be worried. It won't defeat the iPad, nor will it really hurt sales. Its a completely different type of device. The iPad shall reign strong again!

Now we know WHY Apple cut production of the iPad by 25%. They are smart enough to know that this will take sales away from iPad.

I just sold my iPad 2 on Gazelle...gonna get me two of these Kindle Fires for the money I just got!

Rene, What's Apple going to do when the 10" Kindle fire comes out early next year for $299 ??? Amazon hinted that such a device is in work but wasn't ready just yet! Amazon is willing to sell these tablets at COST and make money on the content. This could really hurt Apple!

I'm guessing Apple is going to continue owning the profit share of the market. Try to understand, as a premium brand, Apple was never going to lead this market long term.
What will Apple do? They'll continue to build upon their brands. Add value to their ecosystem. And continue to command the insane profit share they currently enjoy.

Yes they did, but not a full feature competitor. There is finally someone competing on price with just enough to make it worth that $200.
Now the question is will Samsung, Motorola, and RIM figure out that they simply cannot price their tablets any where near the iPad in time or will they get left in Amazon's dust?

Good thing is I can take that ' cheap plastic toy' and not worry about it shattering if dropped by mistake. That's happened to loads of iPads. Can't say I've seen an issue with the Kindle in that regard.

Then you and I are speaking different sides to the same coin. If iPad works for you great. But if we aren't kidding ourselves then you also acknowledge that Amazon has one of the most profitable, and effective business models in retail. The average consumer will go for that, and the price, every time.
Oh and as a teacher I can get value out of many gadgets no matter the price.

I do agree. Just one difference in these 2 giants. Amazon is the retailer of many diverse products. Eventually the possibility of their product line losing steam could be a big detriment to Apple. They are just betting on the cloud with iOS so some catching up is in order. That large bank accnt, certainly an inflated figure based on my read of the quarterly report, will be needed if people quit buying
Of course there is no indication of that happening so that could just be pure speculation.

They won't know it is Android. Look at the Kindle page...one mention of Android.
"Email
Stay in touch using our built-in email app that gets your webmail (Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail, AOL etc.) into a single inbox. Import your messages and contact lists from other email accounts. Additional email apps are available in our Amazon Appstore for Android."

I don't see this as an Ipad competitor. However, this is definitly an interesting ipod touch competitor.

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