Amazon Kindle Fire HD ignites Apple iPad tablet war

Sep 7, 2012

Much-anticipated seven-inch tablets on their way to the UK for the first time

AMAZON'S tablet war with Apple has escalated with the unveiling of a host of new devices, including the eagerly anticipated Kindle Fire HD, which is being made available outside the US for the first time.

The launch is "Amazon's first crack at truly upsetting the global balance of the tablet market," according to Tech Crunch and observers agree that the Kindle Fire now represents the biggest challenge to the dominance of the iPad.

Amazon chief Jeff Bezos announced the Kindle Fire HD and a new e-reader called Paperwhite at an event in Santa Monica. The seven-inch models of the original Kindle Fire and the new Kindle Fire HD will be available in the UK for the first time from late October and will cost £129 for the standard version and £159 for the HD. 

The Amazon devices cost much less than the iPad and will even undercut other budget tablets.

Writing for The Daily Telegraph, Mic Wright described Bezos as one of the "few true visionaries left in tech" and predicted a new chapter in the tablet war between Apple and its rivals, now led by Amazon. The Kindle Fire offers "a real challenge to the iPad's dominance" he said.

Apple and Amazon may be rivals but they work in similar ways, said Wright, explaining that both companies try to "wrap consumers up in an ecosystem". But he added that their motives were different.

"For Apple, it is the products that make the most money while content from iTunes acts as a hook to entice people to purchase those devices. Amazon is pushing down the price of its tablets and e-readers... It wants Kindle Fire owners to download more and even buy more physical goods from the Amazon Store."

Wright believes Bezos and Amazon could win the forthcoming battle - and so do others.

"The launch of the Kindle Fire HD is great for the consumer – but awful news for the Nexus 7 and even Apple," said Tech Radar. Indeed, Amazon may have "ruined Christmas" for Google, the company behind the Nexus 7.

But not everyone is convinced. In order to keep the price down, Kindle tablets will feature adverts on the lock screen. That, said CNet, is "bad news". It also lamented that the tablet's software was mainly designed to download content from Amazon.

"Anyone looking for a flexible tablet to tinker with will likely prefer the Nexus 7," it said.

And despite the best efforts of Amazon, Apple also managed to thrust itself into the limelight. According to The Independent it is "hotly tipped to be introducing a smaller iPad as early as next week" and The Register reported that photos have emerged from China of what appears to be the casing for a seven-inch Apple device.

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