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Online bookseller Amazon.com recently made a long-awaited foray into the tablet market when it unveiled the new Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire is essentially an enhanced version of Amazon’s popular Kindle e-reader that features a 7 inch color touchscreen instead of a black and white display.
The Fire also has a dual-core processor and uses Silk, Amazon’s new web browser which the company describes as “a revolutionary, cloud-accelerated browser that uses a ‘split browser’ architecture to leverage the computing speed and power of the Amazon Web Services cloud.”
While the older Kindles were really only good for reading books, the new Fire will be capable of streaming movies and music in addition to its more traditional e-reader features. In the run-up to the Fire’s debut, some pundits claimed that it would be an ‘iPad killer’ that would successfully compete with Apple’s wildly-successful tablet.
As often happens, the hype didn’t end up matching reality. The Fire is clearly a scaled-down tablet that stresses simplicity and ease-of-use over versatility. Furthermore, the iPad has more memory and a larger display, which will likely make it more attractive to people who are looking for a portable media player.
The Fire also lacks bonus features such as a camera or 3G capability, both of which can be found on an iPad. The Fire’s main selling point is its price: $199, which is far below the cheapest iPad’s price of $499. Amazon clearly hopes to attract customers who are put off by the iPad’s steep price tag and who aren’t necessarily looking for the iPad’s versatility.
And customers who are looking for the utmost in portability may be attracted to the Fire’s svelte size, even if it does result in a smaller display. Instead of directly challenging Apple, Amazon has chosen to place its produce at the low end of the tablet market, where its main rival is likely to be Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color.
The Nook Color is due for an upgrade soon, but it will likely face an uphill battle. Unlike Barnes & Noble, Amazon has already established itself as a leading purveyor of digital movies and music, and the Fire will benefit from that right off the bat.
Barnes & Noble is likely to upgrade the Nook Color with additional media capabilities similar to those found on the Fire, but they’re going to have a lot of catching up to do in order to compete with Amazon’s digital prowess.