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.