Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (image from The Verge)
Today the day a lot of tech pundits (and possibly Nostradamus) have predicted has come to pass; Amazon has shown off its first color Kindle. In a New York event Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos showed off three new Kindle models; a redesigned Kindle, an e-ink Kindle Touch, and the aforementioned color tablet the Kindle Fire.
If you were looking for a cheap Android tablet with the outer shell of an e-book reader (which is how some people treat the Barnes&Noble Nook Color) I’ve got good news and bad news. On the plus side, the Fire is a 7 inch tablet that will run Android Apps from Amazon’s own App store. It contains a 1GHz dual core Texas Instruments OMAP processor with 512MB of memory and 8 Gigabytes of storage. Unlike other Android tablets, this thing will go for $199 or $200 if you count taxes. In addition to Apps Amazon is including Amazon Prime, Storage, the Music store (with storage), and Amazon TV and Movie streaming (which is free if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber). Sounds good right, where here’s the downer. While this is for all intents and purposes an Android tablet, it will not come preinstalled with Google services such as Google Docs or Gmail. There is no back or front facing camera, and you won’t have access to the Android Market. So if that what you came for you going to have to get it somewhere else or wait for a cooked ROM.
The other Kindle models, the Kindle and Kindle touch, are $79 and $99 respectively; although there is a Kindle Touch 4G model for 149. Other than specs (everything is e-ink except the Fire), The traditional Kindle no longer has a keyboard jus a simple row of buttons. The Touch is as implied, a touch screen reader. All models have been redesigned; they have straighter edges and look to have some type of soft touch metal back to them. As was first reported on TechCrunch, the Fire somewhat resembles the Blackberry Playbook in design [For more on that here is GdGt’s Ryan Block]. From the videos I’ve seen, the Fire’s UI is responsive, but it reminds me of Apple’s Cover Flow if it had a wild party. All the applications you run show up on the top row, while pinned apps sit in a dock. One of the bigger pieces of the whole event is both the web browser being used on the Fire and how Amazon is using the cloud. On the cloud aspect, Amazon will be hosting most of what you buy in the cloud. So even if you delete a movie or a book its still there in the Amazon database. The notion about hosting part of what you do is also seen in the Silk browser. Silk is Amazon’s new browser and its interesting in that it caches and splits the work of the browser between the device and Amazon’s servers (I’m leaving a link to an Amazon video which can explain it better below).
I should point out that a big part of the presentation and a lot of what was shown underscores one thing; the Amazon Fire and its brethren are about making it easier for you to buy from Amazon. As someone has quoted Bezos, the Kindle is not a device its a service. The Fire isn’t an Android device, its not there to promote the little green robot, its there to keep you buying what Amazon is selling. Now some will ask who this is aimed at and the answer is everybody. Amazon is not in the tug of war Apple and Google are in, its on the outside. The Fire isn’t trying to be a computer, its a pure consumption device.
Now this tablet could make life difficult for the Nook and Pure Android tablets, and anything that is a 7inch tablet is toast (this thing is 200 dollars people impulse buy). So here it is the Amazon Fire the prophecy has been fulfilled.
Okay here are some posts about Kindle and Amazon
Brier Dudley Kindle library lending: good deal for everyone?
John Gruber Amazon’s New Kindles
Chris Zeigler How Amazon picked Android’s lock
Tim Stevens Amazon Kindle Fire impressions