Amazon announces 7-inch ‘Kindle Fire’ Android tablet for $199

“Amazon.com Inc., the world’s largest online retailer, unveiled its Kindle Fire tablet computer, taking aim at Apple Inc.’s bestselling iPad with a device that’s smaller and less than half the price,” Brad Stone and Danielle Kucera report for Bloomberg.

MacDailyNews Take: With an undersized 7-inch screen – a proven failure in the marketplace – that’s only 45% of iPad’s screen, it ought to be less than half the price.

“The Kindle Fire will have a 7-inch display and sell for $199, compared with $499 for Apple’s cheapest iPad, Amazon executives said in interviews with Bloomberg Businessweek,” Stone and Kucera report. “The device, a souped-up version of the Kindle electronic- book reader, will run on Google Inc.’s Android software, the Seattle-based company said.”

MacDailyNews Take: Yawn.

“Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is betting he can leverage Amazon’s dominance in e-commerce to pose a real challenge to Apple’s iPad, after tablets from rivals such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Research In Motion Ltd. have fallen short,” Stone and Kucera report. “Sales of Amazon’s electronic books, movies and music on the device may help make up for the narrower profit margins that are likely to result from the low price, said Brian Blair, an analyst at Wedge Partners Corp. in New York.”

MacDailyNews Take: Yawn again. Regardless of the media’s penchant to wildly overstate, the thing is designed to be a “Nook killer,” not an “iPad killer.”

“Apple rose $3.46 to $402.72. Shares of Barnes & Noble Inc., maker of the Nook e-reader, fell 51 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $12.70, on the New York Stock Exchange,” Stone and Kucera report. “The Kindle Fire doesn’t have an embedded camera or a microphone. The device offers Wi-Fi connectivity, though not 3G access, 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.”

MacDailyNews Take: In other words: Not with a 10-foot pole; we’re saving our $199 to put towards our iPad 3, thanks.

Stone and Kucera report, “‘I don’t actually believe 7-inch is going to be a viable tablet for anybody,’ Brian Blair, an analyst at Wedge Partners Corp., said. ‘It’s a ‘twiner.’ A real tablet offering has got to be a 10-inch screen.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: For an eBook reader, fine. As an “iPad killer?” Puleeze.

Let’s review what the man who invented the category had to say:

One naturally thinks that a 7-inch screen would offer 70% of the benefits of a 10-inch screen. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The screen measurements are diagonal, so that a 7-inch screen is only 45% as large as iPad’s 10-inch screen. You heard me right: Just 45% as large.

If you take an iPad an hold it upright in portrait view and draw an imaginary horizontal line halfway down the screen, the screens on these 7-inch tablets are a bit smaller than the bottom half of the ipad’s display. This size isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps in our opinion. While one could increase the resolution of the display to make up for some of the difference, it is meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size.

Apple has done extensive user testing on tough interfaces over many years and we really understand this stuff. There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touchscreen before users cannot reliably tap, flick, or pinch them. This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps… The 7-inch tablets are tweeners. Too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad.

These are among the reasons we think the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA. Dead On Arrival. Their manufacturers will learn the painful lesson that their tablets are too small and increase the size next year, thereby abandoning both customers and developers who jumped on the 7-inch bandwagon with an orphaned product.

Sounds like lots of fun ahead.Steve Jobs, October 18, 2010

Related articles:
Apple’s iPad owns 80% of North American tablet market; Analyst claims Amazon tablet can challenge iPad – September 27, 2011
Amazon’s tablet is a ‘pretty poor stopgap’ that looks a lot like RIM’s PlayBook failure – September 27, 2011
Analysts claim Amazon’s tablet will be serious challenge to Apple’s iPad – September 26, 2011
Amazon to hold media event on September 28th – September 23, 2011
No worries, iPad, Amazon’s Android ‘tablet’ just a ‘Nook killer’ – September 6, 2011
Amazon’s Android tablet really only a 7-inch color Kindle – September 3, 2011

73 Comments

    1. They’re in the same league if you use them for the same things. If 99% of the time you are surfing the web, sending emails, streaming video, and listening to music with your iPad, then they’re in the same league. Smaller & less expensive by half for the same four activities seems like a worthy gamble for Amazon to me.

    2. Here’s what Amazon has to say about the Kindle on their website:


      Kindle Fire brings everything we’ve been working on at Amazon for 15 years together into a single, fully-integrated experience for customers – instant access to Amazon’s massive selection of digital content, a vibrant color IPS touchscreen with extra-wide viewing angle, a 14.6 ounce design that’s easy to hold with one hand, a state-of-the-art dual core processor, free storage in the Amazon Cloud, and an ultra-fast mobile browser – Amazon Silk – available exclusively on Kindle Fire.

      You can’t tell me that sounds like an instant fail at $199.

      FWIW, I’m a huge Mac fan, but Lion has made my work process crawl (why can’t I scan from my printer? why can’t I print from Preview or TextEdit? Apple doesn’t know.)

      On top of that, though I buy iPhones on day one and have an excellent MBP, I have never owned an iPad. I just don’t get them. I know millions disagree, but to me they’re too heavy, the screen looks terrible compared to my phone, and with a desktop, laptop and phone from Apple, I just don’t need it…

      So that’s where I’m coming from when I see the Fire. I think, “Hmm… that could work.”

      1. wait, so you blotch your Lion install and we are supposed to take your analysis of tablets as having some sort of creditability?

        Idiot. lion works great. Works fine with my Epson scanner, and prints from every app just fine.

        And until you actually use an iPad…..stfu. It is simply life changing. Seriously.

        1. It’s a known issue at Canon. Can’t speak for Epson.

          Lion still has bugs. I first bought a Mac with Panther on it so I’ve gone through four versions of OSX. For me this one has been the most difficult.

          Yes, I’ve actually used an iPad. When on vacation I have used my mom’s. I play with them at Best Buy, Apple stores, etc. Not long term, obviously. It seems it’s that long term use that surprises people and changes their habits. I may be in for an iP3, just to see.

          As for stfu. Seriously? Angry much?

      2. That’s the problem NB.

        When I bought my wife an iPad, I kinda felt the same way you did when I first used it.
        However, a funny thing began to happen the more I played with it. I began using my iPhone less and borrowing her iPad more. It’s like exiting a nice but rather cramped halway out into a wide open field where one can breath. Until one experiences the iPad in this they will never undestand it.

        1. The iPad is like that. It can be hard to see the appeal until you’ve had some serious time playing with one. My wife wasn’t sure she wanted one, and agreed to get one almost reluctantly. (I’m a gadget geek and wanted to get her one as a present so I could occasionally play with it myself.) She now uses it every day and I’ve lost track of the number of apps she’s bought for it.

          ——RM

        2. I appreciate the comments. Funny story: My wife’s son (aged 10) just discovered the game “Age of Empires”. When I asked him about it he said, “It only works on older computers, like the one my mom has, or a Dell.”

          My wife’s computer is old. Won’t last forever. When it goes, the MBP will probably become the house computer. That’s when we’ll probably get an iPad for general use. Perhaps that’s when the magic will happen.

  1. I would like to see Apple come out with a smaller, lightweight iPad with limited storage and no camera priced in the $250 range.

    Also, it would be cool if the iPad could be switched to ’emulation mode’ and run Android apps. I have no idea about the technical requirements for doing this, but it would grease the wheels for those using Android phones to buy an iPad. It would also allow Apple to advertise that its iPad runs 700,000+ apps.

      1. Okay man, take it easy. BREATH. I know this guy giving his honest opinion is just so infuriating but just remember that you GET IT. This guy has no clue. May he be smitten for his heresy.

    1. Running Android apps on the iPad would not be a major issue, all that is needed is a port of Davlik and the Android APIs that are accessible via the Android SDK. RIM is reported to be doing just this.

      The major issue would be quality, and I don’t mean the apps (although certainly some would be suspect).

      There are only a couple hundred (no statistics, I’m guessing) apps written specifically for Honeycomb which is the Tablet version of Android.

      I just do not see the payoff in Apple doing this as most software is written for the iPad first anyway.

    2. Those who doubt that anything could be gained by enabling the iPad run Android apps need to open their minds a little:

      1-Today is not the end of history: There will eventually be thousands upon thousands of Android apps for tablets, and other than false pride there is no reason Apple and its customers shouldn’t benefit from those at little or no cost.

      2- Even if the quality of Android apps is inferior to those accustomed to using an iPad (including me), that doesn’t mean they are inferior to everyone. Lots of Android users like and enjoy those apps. If you rebel at this notion, you probably don’t see the advantage of Macs running Intel processors, either. That change permitted PC users to run software that’s never been developed for the Mac and made it far easier for PC users to migrate to Mac. In the same vein, perhaps you think Apple should have stuck with the GSM-based iPhone (for AT&T) and refused to produce a CDMA iPhone.

      3- The personal libraries (apps, music, pictures) of Android users anchor them to Android devices in the future; nobody wants to abandon those personal items when migrating to an iPad/iPhone environment. But if they could bring all of those things with them to an iPad/iPhone, then it is far more likely they’ll make the move. (Since iOS is proprietary, it would be impossible for Android to make the same inroads into Apple’s iPad/iPhone user base.)

      5- Some iPads/iPhones are shared by multiple users, and those users may not agree on whether to purchase an iOS or Android device. But they could always agree on the iPad/iPhone if the Apple device could accommodate the needs of all.

      4- There will eventually be a few killer apps for Android that aren’t available for iPad/iPhone, including some that may be in high demand by enterprise (business) users. Amazon’s Fire, for example, is an Android device, and it’s not going away. And new Android phones will be introduced for years to come. Why should Apple shut itself off from the apps developed for these devices?

      5- Apple could begin selling Android apps and generate revenue from them. By screening them for viruses and malware (etc.), Apple would add value to Android apps and may become a preferred provider of the Android experience.

      6- It would be *extremely* amusing to see Apple copy and then improve upon the Android experience, without paying Google any royalties.

  2. Yawn ,the tech blogs are so dramatic. It will sell ,but we will never know how many because amazon never releases exact numbers ,hmmm millions sold ,yeah right good luck with that .plus the prime program adds $79 every year .not really cheaper is it .yawn !!!!!!!

    1. Actually AMZN just like everyone else has to report correct numbers at the quarterly report. Amazon isn’t stupid or they wouldn’t be such a successful company. Just like AAPL, AMZN has great execution. They don’t intend to overtake the iPad but to compete with it on a smaller level. Their real objective here is to have a direct link to Amazon through a device. With these Kindles at these prices they will do just that. Eventually they will sell a bunch. Not as many as Apple but still a bunch. It’s marketing and they do it just as good as AAPL. They will make it so easy to shop Amazon from the Kindle. That’s their objective here. And pricing does matter. They have priced these tablets so people can buy them. Calm down fanboys. The iPad will still reign as king for quite a while. But Amazon has brought out a product designed to help them sell more stuff on Amazon.com. Kudos to them. Brilliant! I’d ask if any fanboys have ever read a book on both the iPad and Kindle to see how much better the Kindle is for reading but I don’t know if you can download comic books? I love my iPads. I don’t own a Kindle but it doesn’t mean that I can’t recognize great business moves when I see one. Sure made my AMZN calls look good today. Wish my AAPL calls looked as good. Let’s see how well AAPL does between now and October 4th.

      1. Actually AMZN just like everyone else has to report correct numbers at the quarterly report.

        They do? Then please link to where they reported the precise number of Kindles sold last year, because I didn’t think they did so.

        ——RM

          1. @GM

            Amazon does NOT release Kindle numbers nor are they required to by the SEC. The stocks involved in quarterly reports are of the economic kind not the kind you find on backroom shelves. I have the quarterly reports for 2010-2011 and I promise you there are no numbers regarding physical sales numbers of Kindles to be found. So, unless you know something no other investor or the entire investment media community knows, how about you quit being the smart a** and stop insulting others as you yak about stuff you clearly know nothing about.

    1. Kindle Fire as in “shot down in flames.” The iPad, as always, is bulletproof & fortified to these clownish attempts to take their turf. And size does matter. (Though I can see in some business situations where a smaller iPad might be welcome for certain tasks but certainly not most.)

  3. I’m an Apple Fanboi saying this, but…this is clearly the first real challenge to the iPad in the tablet space. Clearly. It’s cheap, it’s attractive, it has a HUGE cloud behind it, millions of people already have an Amazon account, it doesn’t look like any other version of Android, it’s not trying to be the iPad. I could go on. It’s cheap enough that people could decide to have this *and* an iPad. Very well done, Amazon, very well done.

    Not saying I’ll get one, but still…

      1. Explain to me what Amazon is doing with Silk that Opera hasn’t already done with Opera Mini. Or that the Skyfire Browser doesn’t already do. Both of my examples have some content processed and handled by remote servers, and both have significant security and privacy implications as a result (particularly Opera Mini and HTTPS content).

    1. Meh. I agree it’s well done for Android standards, but I don’t see how you will do anything but consume content on what they’re offering, especially with just a 7″ screen. So, it will be good for Amazon, but I don’t think it compares to the iPad because you don’t get the same functionality and creative ability.

      1. @michael S

        That may be exactly the point. Amazon may not be saying “buy this instead of an iPad”; they may be saying “buy this in addition, ideally buy this one first”. And who cares if you only use it to consume Amazon content? There’s a ton of it out there: books, movies, music. You might buy a Fire just for Amazon Prime content.

    2. It all depends on your perspective.
      Amazon Fire is a product designed for Amazon to increase it’s own sales.

      iPad is product designed for everyone. The iPad is a marketplace of creative energies for just about anyone, from doctors to students, to artists, musician….you get it. On the iPad, people can create as well as consume.

      The KindleFire is a consumer device. The iPad is a human palette.

      Two very distinctive philosophies for those clever enough to discern them.

  4. The Silk Browser looks simply amazing and one of the biggest innovation in the mobile space in the past few years. Machine learning based predictive technology paired with EC2?

    The Kindle Fire is not an iPad killer, it has a totally different view of the tablet, being content-centric and not app-centric like the iPad and the iPad knock-offs. At least, Amazon thinks different.

    1. Could you help me understand what’s so innovative about their Silk Browser?

      How is it any different from Opera Mini or SkyFire Browser, both already on iOS and both already using remote servers to process parts of the web content?

      I’m not at all keen on any of these kinds of browsers, particularly when HTTPS secure content is involved – my browser content should only be going to my browser, not to anyone else for data harvesting.

    2. The Thread browser sounds like the most interesting piece of technology in the Kindle Fire. It could be a revolution, giving everyone faster access to web pages by changing the very nature of how web servers and web browsers exchange data. That being said, it’s a very risky move that could easily become a disaster, leaving web pages broken, slow, and unresponsive. It would be very impressive if Thread works as seamlessly as Amazon claims.

  5. At that price, Amazon will sell a lot. It will be the “good enough” tablet for many people who can’t justify or afford a real iPad.

    Actually hoping Apple surprises with an iPad3 before the holidays but I know that’s probably not going to happen.

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