Amazon just put Android tablets on notice with the Kindle Fire product line

Amazon just put Android tablets on notice with the Kindle Fire product line

Summary: The new Kindle Fire tablets announced today will cement Amazon as the #2 platform for tablets. The iPad will remain in its top spot, but Amazon just put all Android tablets on notice.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Amazon, Android, iPad, Tablets
35
Kindle Fire HD
Image credit: Amazon

Make no mistake, Amazon today put the entire Android tablet space on notice that it's coming for them. The new Kindle Fire tablets unveiled today will cement Amazon as the number two vendor of tablets behind Apple. More importantly, they will place Amazon as the number two platform for tablets, ahead of Android.

The techno-savvy will cry foul, that Android is the kernel running the Kindle Fires. That's technically accurate but the entire interface by Amazon makes the Kindle Fires a whole new platform in its own right.

"We want to make money when people USE our devices, not when they BUY our devices." — Jeff Bezos

The vast majority of Fire buyers will never see anything but the Amazon interface optimized for buying and viewing of content. That plus the fact that Amazon will sell far more tablets than all other companies making 'real' Android tablets combined earns the Fires the designation of a separate platform.

The original Kindle Fire has already garnered 22 percent of the tablet market, and the upgraded models announced today will keep that growing.

The new Kindle Fire HD will go even further to eat into the competition. While retaining the 7-inch form factor of the original Fire, the new HD adds more storage (16GB), faster performance, and a high-resolution display (1280x800) into the mix. The price of $199 is the same as the current darling, the Nexus 7, but with better hardware.

The larger 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD has the same hardware improvements along with a slightly bigger screen (1920x1200). It is designed for content consumption in every way, and at $299 will likely be a big holiday seller. It will be available in November to reach that holiday crowd.

The most questionable new tablet from Amazon is the Kindle Fire HD 4G LTE. It doubles the storage to 32GB and adds AT&T 4G LTE to the mix. The price of $499 is competitive with other tablets, but quite expensive compared to the rest of the Kindle Fire line. 

Amazon is offering an annual data plan for the 4G LTE for a paltry $49.99, but it only gets you 250MB per month. Streaming one HD movie, a selling point for the Kindle Fire HD, will require more than that. It's not clear how big a draw the 4G LTE with plan will be.

In general the new Kindle Fire line is a solid offering from Amazon. Confirming what I said last year, Jeff Bezos said during the press event Amazon wants to make money off of content, not hardware sales. This keeps the purchase price of the new tablets as low as possible.

This pricing plus the brand recognition Amazon enjoys is going to give the Android tablet makers fits. They cannot match Amazon's tablet pricing, and they have no content ecosystem to compete.

Amazon just put the Android tablet space on notice that they are here to stay. It will probably take the number two platform spot away from Android in the process.

Related:

Forget the iPad, Android tablet makers better fear the Kindle Fire

Topics: Amazon, Android, iPad, Tablets

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

35 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Nice pipe dreams Jim

    It is still just Amazons content... Yes the Tablet is nice but, overall pretty average experience when you have apps on Android, Books on Play Books and iBooks, and Movies that aren't from Amazon.

    The Nexus 7 offers a better overall experience and the iPad offers more diverse content.

    Basically, if you have no investment and want to be locked in, go ahead and buy the Kindle!
    slickjim
    • Agreed

      +1
      jlm123hi
    • Can you back up your claims?

      What makes Nexus 7 a better overall experience? What do you mean by diverse content? Amazon's content offers quite a variety.

      As for lock-in, it's a non-issue as choosing any tablet locks you in to some extent. But you do know that Kindle Fire does support Hulu and Netflix so you can get content elsewhere if you like.

      Come November, when the new Kindles are actually released, we will see what the experience is like.

      For now, the only weakness I see is that it is US only and so that will limit Amazon's marketshare.

      I think iPad still wins overall, but I would consider Kindle Fire the number 2 easily.

      Maybe I am missing something but I dont see why I should buy a Nexus 7.
      otaddy
      • Nexus 7

        It's because Nexus 7 is running Jelly Bean. The new Kindle Fires are running Ice Cream Sandwich. Jelly Bean is SO much nicer.
        BIGELLOW
        • Ok, but some details please

          I have ICS on my phone, its better than the previous version but nothing "must-have".

          Why is Jelly Bean SO much nicer?
          otaddy
    • In theory you are right,

      but most consumers do not understand android like that.

      They don't understand the difference between Android 4.0 and 4.1 or even what version of Android the Kindle Fire is running (if they even know it is running android).

      It is viewed as an Amazon tablet with access to all of Amazons content and shopping. I agree that a pure android tablet is a much better experience, but that message isn't getting through. Android is so fragmented between Google trying to shape the brand with the nexus line, OEMs trying to flavor android to set them selves apart from the competition and the terribly cheap knockoffs that drive make Android a frustrating experience (pandigital, sylvannia or any of the other cheap Chinese knockoffs).

      Google has dropped the ball with Android and Amazon is picking it up and running with it.

      You would be surprised how many people don't even know you can get amazon content on the nexus or other androids.
      Emacho
  • Wait - I thought Google put Amazon on notice with their new Android tablets

    so everyone is putting everyone on notice, anymore?

    You need a scorecard to see who's turn it is to be put on notice each day.
    William Farrel
    • heh

      heh - hey, guess what? Everybody's, well, competing. Does James really think they're gonna sit down and stick to the same tired old pricing? They know as well as everybody else what the expectations are - does he really think they're not gonna try to beat them?
      CobraA1
    • Nobody is keeping score because....

      The jury is out on this one.

      All the juries are out, in fact.

      That just leaves you and me and the cat.

      Twiddling our thumbs and toes.
      professorjohn
    • The Nexus 7 did put Amazon on notice

      It outclassed the original Kindle Fire by a wide margin.

      Amazon answered back with lower prices, more storage, more models and some better media features. The new Fire are serious competition just in time for the holiday season.

      The Nexus7 was a reactionary answer to the Kindle Fire, but Amazon was already looking beyond that. Google should have done the same.

      I feel bad for the rest of the Android OEMs.
      Emacho
    • We just need ...

      a PreEmptive Reciprocal Global No Holds Barred, Loser Leave Town, Cage Match of "You Are On Notice" and be done with it once and for all ! ; - )

      Agree with you comment above.
      Whatever happened to "Can't we all just get along". Did it expire with Rodney. I hope not.
      jkohut
  • How about

    How about 1Gb a month for $100 a year. Or 2Gb for $150. That might make me re-consider my skepticism of 3G/4G tablets.
    dsf3g
  • Not enough tech specs

    I'd really like to see more technical specs on this. The biggest problem my kids had with the original Kindle Fire was the pathetic 8GB storage getting used up within 3 months. Increasing this to 16GB is simply not acceptable. So do these new devices have an SD Slot so I could insert a 64GB SD memory card for storing things like Music and Apps?

    Also, what processor & speed do these have? What other expansion slots? Are you still stuck running "only" apps from the Amazon store? Are you stuck with "never" being able to update the undelying OS? Which version of Android is Amazon basing their 'tweaked' OS on? What's the battery life? What materials is this thing made out of? Is it cheap plastic or metal? Does it have a non-skid surface on the back or will it be polished and slippery?

    I think it's premature to say it has better specs than a Nexus 7 if many of the other things with the Fire are locked down, limited, or don't exist.
    Hemo2
    • well

      it is running a TI OMAP CPU with Power VR SGX544 GPU so it is certainly a step up on the iPad 3 but the Note is supposed to be equally as powerful.

      No SD Card Slot and yes it should have at least had a 32 Gig option and the Full HD option will be hurt by this over sight.
      slickjim
      • 32GB

        It looks like there is a 32GB option for $249.
        msftds
        • Yep and

          The video mentions 64 Gig models.
          slickjim
    • Not for Power Users

      It's pretty clear if you are so concerned with tech specs then this is not the tablet for you. I do share your concerns with regards to build quality and storage space, but other than that most of the things you mention (SD card, processor, ecosystem restrictions) are not relevant to most users.

      Most users will buy the tablet from Amazon; they will then proceed to buy all apps, books, movies from Amazon. They don't care (or perhaps even know) that the Google Play store has more available apps.

      I'd say you need to stick with the Nexus 7.
      msftds
  • Why LTE?

    While I admit that I don't think the Amazon HD 4G LTE tablet necessarily needs 4G, having a cellular modem in it will be of great use. I have an Android Wifi tablet, and when I read in the Kindle App, if I am not on a wifi network, I then have to remember to open the Kindle app when I get home to try and get the WhisperSync system to work. With the new advances to WhisperSync, this becomes even more important. Having a cellular modem makes this work, and the 250 MB is more than enough. Plus, with all the X-Ray technology that Amazon is introducing, the availability of data becomes even more important.

    Sure, 250 MB isn't much, but it may be enough to keep the selling points of the tablet functional when travelling.

    My issue with the original Kindle Fire was that I didn't want to rely on the cloud so heavily for my entertainment. 8 GB isn't enough memory for travel if I want music and maybe a movie or two. The 16GB Fire HD is better, and I might consider that. The 32GB Fire HD 4G LTE would be great, but the price is a big jump if all you really want is the memory.
    jglopic
    • Is it 4G only?

      Most (if not all) of the current LTE chipsets have provisions for using legacy networks like HSPDA, GSM, EVDO, CDMA. I suspect the new Kindle Fire has this capability too.
      otaddy
  • I would say W8 is still on track to be #2 or, really, #1

    It all depends on how you count it.

    Do both ARM and x86/64 devices count? Do only slates count, or to convertibles get to play, too? What about 'Ultrabooks' (that can't hid their keyboards) with touchscreens?

    If any lightweight, portable device with a touch-optimized OS and touchscreen to go with it counts, then W8 will *easily* be #1. The rest can fight it out for #2.

    If only slates under 2 lbs running ARM count, then maybe W8 won't grab that top spot (but then again, maybe it *still* will). I'll bet collectively it'll still outsell the Fire line and Android.
    x I'm tc