SANTA MONICA, CALIF. -- Amazon debuted the new Kindle Fire HD series before the media during an invite-only event in Southern California on Thursday, essentially disrupting the entire tablet market in the span of an hour and a half.
That's because the Amazon has presented what is arguably the most competitive devices and associated pricing schemes in this growing market yet.
While commenting that up until now the standard price for a tablet has been $499, CEO Jeff Bezos addressed the elephant in the room (the iPad) by literally displaying an elephant on screen to some laughter from the audience.
The Kindle Fire HD 7" with 16GB will retail for $199 and ships September 14, while the Kindle Fire HD 8.9" with 16GB will really only be a little bit more at $299, shipping November 20.
Amazon is also turning things up a notch with a 4G LTE version of the 8.9-inch tablet at $499. That is tied along to a $49.99 per year package deal that is comprised of 250MB of data per month along with 20GB of cloud storage and a $10 Amazon Appstore credit.
While 250MB isn't really much at all for streaming the kind of video content being touted on the Kindle Fire HD, $50 per year for 4G access is really remarkable. For business customers who might not be as concerned with all of the video and music-related services, that is also more appealing to their technology budgets.
Even the $299 Wi-Fi only edition looks more appealing now to both enterprise and educational customers. On the business front, Bezos repeatedly drummed in about how the Kindle Fire HD comes with a major boost to productivity and email features -- not to mention the X-Ray super search function that pinpoints terms and characters in everything from novels to textbooks to movies.
Although the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD is ever-so-slightly smaller than the 9.7-inch iPad 3 in display real estate, that difference is hardly relevant when you take the pricing and functionality into account.
If and when Apple announces the next iPad, it is going to have to answer the play put forward by Amazon and go beyond -- especially if it wants to continue selling a $499 Wi-Fi only tablet, which just seems implausible at this point.