Amazon Brings On The Tablet War With $199 Kindle Fire

Jeff Bezos is challenging Steve Jobs, with the launch of Amazon’s $199 pocket-friendly Kindle Fire budget tablet on Wednesday, marking the most high-profile challenge yet to Apple Inc.’s dominant iPad; but if it will truly become the ‘iPad Killer‘ remains to be seen. The Kindle Fire tablet computer is smaller and less than half the price of Apple iPad 2.

The Kindle Fire is a tablet version of Amazon.com’s Kindle e-book reader. Announced on 28 September 2011, the Kindle Fire will have a 7-inch display and sell for $199, compared with $499 for Apple’s cheapest iPad, Amazon executives said. The device, a souped-up version of the Kindle electronic-book reader, will run on Google Inc.’s Android software and will hope to become the first credible response to the Apple iPad.

It is scheduled to be released in mid November. Its external dimensions are 7.5″ x 4.7″. Excluding its external border the screen is a little larger than a 4×6 picture. Mr. Bezos said that all the content on the Fire will be backed up remotely on Amazon’s cloud servers at no cost to the consumer, hinting at a comparable service to Apple’s iCloud.

The Kindle Fire will offer Wi-Fi connectivity and comes with a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime, the company’s $79-a-year membership service that includes streaming video and free two-day shipping.

What we are doing is offering premium products at non- premium prices,” Bezos says. Other tablet contenders “have not been competitive on price” and “have just sold a piece of hardware. We don’t think of the Kindle Fire as a tablet. We think of it as a service.

If the Kindle Fire is half as good as it looked in Bezos’ conference room, it will fan the fears about Amazon’s growing dominance. The tablet funnels users into Amazon’s meticulously constructed world of content, commerce, and cloud computing. Just like owners of Kindle e-reading devices tend to start buying all their books from Amazon, Kindle Fire owners are likely to hand over an increasing chunk of their entertainment budget to Jeff Bezos.

However, is the Kindle Fire going to be the best tablet PC in market today? Will it ever become the ever-elusive iPad killer? “I don’t see this as an iPad killer,” said Leung, who is based in San Francisco. The Kindle Fire “caters to a much lower-end consumer. A bigger screen and a more powerful processor over time — those are the two main things that will enable them to get there.”

So we believe, the Amazon device faces an uphill battle against the iPad. Unlike the Apple tablet, the Amazon Kindle Fire doesn’t have a camera or microphone, and it doesn’t offer cellular connection, working only with Wi-Fi. It also has fewer Amazon apps as opposed to over 100,000 native iPad apps.

However, while we don’t think the Fire offers the same level of features as the iPad or existing Android tablets, we do have high hopes that Amazon’s broad content portfolio (books, video, music) and the half price will help Fire find buyers seeking low-budget tablets.

Amazon has had great success selling e-reader Kindles. But, so far, no other tech company has been able to take a bite out of iPad’s market. Amazon could change that.

The consumer that wants email, web and media, the Kindle Fire is a great product. Anyone who wants to take their tablet to work to have a sort of double-duty as a work and leisure device, the iPad is going to be a better choice.

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