Amazon launches Kindle Fire

Amazon today announced the Kindle Fire, a US$200, 7″ tablet which is runs on the Android platform. It comes with a free month of Amazon Prime and is Wi-Fi Only. It is coming Q1 or Q2 2012, although it could not confirm the release date.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO took the stage in New York and began the launch with a reference to the massively successful company’s Kindle e-Reader, “Four years ago we set out to improve upon the book…

Amazon had to create demand not only for the device but also for the content within the devices — e-books.”

“Physical book sales over the past 15 years have grown hugely, but in just four years Kindle sales have outpaced those,” he said, adding that “The question is: why is Kindle working? Why is this working? I believe it’s because Kindle is an end-to-end service, and I believe it is because we have been inventing and improving that service at a rapid pace for the last four years.”

New Kindles announced

The first announcement was for the new Kindle eBook, the Kindle Touch. It has an IR touch like the Nook or the Kobo. It has no keyboard and a speaker on front. It is very light, and looks nothing like the current Kindle. There are no buttons on the front as “People like to read singlehanded” According to Bezos. “Left hand people can access new tap-zones called EasyReach.” You simply tap in the narrow strips of the page to go backwards or forwards.

A neat new feature bundled with the Kindles is called X-ray. With one touch, you can see instant facts about the book, including Wikipedia entries on the book. It’s like an on-page search feature.

It will be US$100. There will be a 3G model as well with free 3G at US$149 and it will have an “extra long” battery life. The Kindle Touch works in 100 countries and has no annual contract or monthly fees. Pre-orders start today, shipping on November 21st. There is a US$50 charge for lifetime wireless data in 100 countries

There will also be a budget “no-touch” Kindle priced at US$79. Will be less than 0.3 pounds and will have no keyboard but some buttons.

He then speaks of the android app store on the device and how there is an online simulator so that you can try before you buy. Bezos has us covered for content with the US$79 per year Amazon prime and Prime instant video service, 11 000 movies and TV shows are bundled with the cost.

According to Bezos, “Amazon has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to license content.” This is the Amazon version of Xbox live.

The Kindle Fire

And then, the big announcement. The Kindle Fire is revealed to be a 7” tablet with an IPS display. It has no buttons on the device, will have a Gorilla Glass LCD, has a dual-core processor and weighs in at 0.9KGS. With a quick swipe, you can bring up music and listen to your audio while reading a book. All content will be stored on bookshelves, in a stark comparison to the inorganic look of Apple and Android devices UI.

It will come with access to Cloudfront. You will get access to 100 000 movies and TV shows, 17-million songs, access to the Android Appstore and Kindle books. It ships 15 November and will cost US$200.

Speaking about the new Whispersynch feature, Bezos said, “Delete it and get it back when you want. We feel the same thing about syncing. Syncing should be done invisibly in the background — and it should actually work.” This is wireless synching. Whispersynch will work with movie and TV content. It can bookmark your TV shows and movies and you can easily shift your content from Kindle to TV.

Bezos also announced Amazon Silk, its new web browser which will come with the Kindle Fire. “I wonder if there is some way that we can use the incredible computational horsepower of Amazon EC2 to accelerate mobile browsing. The answer is yes. It’s called Amazon Silk.” It will compress data, allowing the user to browse faster.

The US$200 Kindle Fire may be the game-changing tablet users have been waiting for.

Steven Norris: grumpy curmudgeon


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