Last week Amazon announced their highly-rumored tablet reader, which is also a competing product to B&N’s Nook Color. It wasn’t so much of a secret and more of a ‘when is it coming?’ situation. The tablet, called the Amazon Fire, is revolutionary in one big fact: the price. Amazon knows about pricing and knows they need to get it right in this market that’s not just hot completely changing how everyone reads books and accesses information.
So what is the Kindle Fire? I could go into technical specs and quote CPU speed and all sorts of geeky stuff but none of that matters. All you need to know is that it’s a 7-inch, color, touch-screen device that costs $199. It also ties together all the digital goods Amazon’s been peddling for the past few years. Bought some MP3’s from their music store? It’s there. Picked up a digital movie last year? It’s there. The tons of Kindle books you have in your library? It’s there too. Amazon has brought us a device that delivers all of the content they sell and keep on their servers. The Fire utilizes their storage (called cloud storage) to keep all your stuff. You just download it again whenever you want and it’s on the device.
The Fire looks great so far and I believe will fully occupy the sub-iPad market where tons of Android tablets are left to whither and die. But Amazon didn’t stop there. They also changed their entire Kindle lineup with the Kindle Touch and a redesigned Kindle. The keyboard’s been removed and frankly that means the base Kindle (with no touch) doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Who wants to input text with a compass button with a selector in the middle? Not this guy.
Here’s a quick run-down of the updates:
Amazon has countered B&N’s Nook with their own touch version. It works the same way, using an infrared overlay that sits on top of the ePaper display and tracks touch. The display itself isn’t touch at all. This means you keep the fantastic ePaper technology but get touch capability. The touch comes in a wifi and 3G model while the base Kindle is only wifi. Luckily if you prefer the last-generation Kindle, they’re still selling those at $99.
I find it amazing how quickly the price has dropped on the Kindle. Just a few years ago when it came out, it was $399 and I bought one. Not to mention there was a 3-4 month wait to get them. Now they’re selling for $79 (base Kindle with ads on the lock screen) and you can have it shipped next-day. Amazon is single-handedly ushering in the eBook revolution with B&N, Apple and Sony helping out to make this the STANDARD when it comes to reading. In ten years will reading a physical book be an oddity? Based on price, convenience and selection, it’s difficult to see why people would want to build a collection of physical books over a digital one where space is infinite.
Where do you fall on the eBook / physical book debate? Do you like the new Kindle’s? Sound off in the comments!