As you may know, thanks to our colleagues at Xataka, Amazon has just renewed the entire Kindle family with the launch of the multi-touch e-ink reader Kindle Touch in four flavours (WiFi and WiFi+3G with or without advertising) and the eagerly awaited tablet Kindle Fire at a hiccup price of 199 dollars ( barely 150 euros ).
Physically, Kindle Fire is unmistakably reminiscent of the BlackBerry PlayBook, a resemblance that is not by chance since Amazon has turned to Quanta, the company responsible for RIM’s tablet using its hardware as a base; a base that has evidently been cut back quite a bit until it reached a price with a clear objective. Is Amazon throwing the house out of the window? How does it affect Apple’s iPad? These are some of the questions I will try to answer below…
Thus begins the letter of introduction from Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, who currently presides over the cover of the American store. What he doesn’t say is that they are not the little sisters of the business charity, but simply their business is not in selling hardware, but in selling content . And it is important to understand where the core of each company lies: advertising for Google, hardware with content as a means instead of an end for Apple, and pure and simple hardware for Samsung, RIM and the rest of the companies.
One hundred and ninety-nine dollars is a breakthrough price, no doubt about it. But don’t be fooled into thinking that the Kindle Fire is anything other than what it was meant to be: a product designed by and to serve as a showcase for the content distributed by the company. It is this philosophy that will make it successful in the US, where Amazon has a catalogue of 18 million movies, TV series, songs, magazines and books. And it is also this philosophy that will delay its launch indefinitely in countries like Spain.
So, where are we? Will it affect Apple or not? Well, if you allow me to remove the crystal ball, I think the impact will be minimal. Just as the increase in market share for Android smartphones has been at the expense of the rest and not the iOS platform, which has shown quarter after quarter that it is in good health by persistently improving its numbers, Kindle Fire plays in a different league than Apple’s tablet.
Don’t worry, my intention is not at all to belittle the Amazon tablet. Let’s assume that I think it will sell considerably well and that it even has some glimmers of brilliance like the Amazon Silk browser (for lack of proof, of course). Nor will I delve into the suspicions expressed by some trusted media that the Kindle Fire is nothing more than a rash version aimed at the Christmas season as a preview of the real tablet that Amazon is supposed to market in 2012.
Kindle Fire, el nuevo tablet de Amazon costará 199 dólares, pero sólo en EEUU
The developers are used to the mess of hardware configurations of the different Android tablets and the 7 inches with 1024×600 pixels resolution, the 1 GHz dual-core processor and the 8 GB of internal memory not expandable without camera, 3G or GPS of the Kindle Fire are not going to be a major problem for them.
The question is rather for which version of the operating system are you going to develop. For the tablets with Android 3.0 Honeycomb? The version in principle “official” aimed at tablets. Or for this unrecognizable version of Android 2.2 Froyo del Fire with its own app store “verified by Amazon to ensure the best possible experience” ? Something tells me that Amazon’s sales figures will leave Google in an awkward position .
Meanwhile, the iPad in particular and iOS in general will continue to stand out as the easiest path for developers and the most attractive platform for most consumers thanks to a good balance of applications and content. The price? Well, Apple has never intended to compete in that field. Their league is to offer the best user experience at the price that allows them to do so. No more, no less.