Kindle Fire undercuts iPad and burns Google
Talking Point: Buy a Fire - as long as you don't mind Amazon knowing everything about you
AMAZON has made a bid to become the entertainment retailer of choice by flooding the market with a range of new Kindles. At the 'high end' - although at $199, it's still pretty cheap - is Amazon's new tablet computer, the Kindle Fire. Down at the budget level, meanwhile, is the new e-ink (ie. black-and-white) $79 Kindle, a dirt-cheap e-reader, which will display ads when you aren't reading your e-books.
Tech bloggers have been debating whether the Kindle Fire will prove at last to be the increasingly elusive 'iPad-killer'.
Awesome - and ruthless
"The Kindle Fire looks awesome," writes Brent Rose on Gizmodo. "For $199 it's the highest-end device for the least amount of money we've seen (it's the same hardware as the $500 BlackBerry Playbook)... If you want a cheap but still very good tablet that isn't an iPad, it's looking like this is your baby... If you're wondering if you should be excited, the answer is yes, we think you should."
The 8GB Fire will be the modelk that draws the most attention, says The Register's Andrew Orlowski, because "it undercuts the iPad-clones considerably, and also undercuts Apple's video streaming Pricing. It's ruthlessly designed around content consumption, playing music from Amazon's cloud music services and Prime movie store."
It's costing Amazon a fortuneGene Munster, the go-to analyst for Apple - if not Amazon - products, says the Kindle Fire is "not a true competitor" to the iPad, but more competitive than expected thanks to its "superior content delivery".
Interestingly, Munster believes Amazon is losing about $50 on every Fire it sells. However, bloggers have previously pointed out that Amazon will be hoping to make up for the loss-leader with content sales.
A shot across Google's bow
"Lost in the 'Is it an iPad Killer?' hype is the audacious introduction of the Silk [web] browser," writes tech blogger Chris Espinosa. "Amazon is performing astonishing jujitsu on Google.
"Amazon will capture and control every web transaction performed by Fire users. Every page they see, every link they follow, every click they make, every ad they see..."
Espinosa points out Amazon is doing all of this by using a reworked version of Google's freely available Android operating system. "Amazon now has what every storefront lusts for: the knowledge of what other stores your customers are shopping in and what prices they're being offered there... and all of this on Google's dime."
Michael A Davis at Information Week agrees Google should watch out. He says the Fire is "a shot across Google's bow, because [it] is highly customised by Amazon and does not provide access to Google's Android market. Now it's an Amazon vs. Apple discussion instead of Google vs. Apple." ·
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