Amazon has revived an old product category, and what's more, they have come up with a reason that might actually make you want to buy into their idea.
They are updating the existing Fire tablets with a new mode, and a new optional dock that will essentially turn a Fire tablet into an Echo Show:
Show Mode offers an immersive hands-free Alexa experience for current generation Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablets, providing full-screen visuals that complement voice responses from Alexa—just ask Alexa to show your calendar, watch your video flash briefing, check the weather, set a timer, watch a movie trailer, check camera feeds, and more. Also announced today is the new Show Mode Charging Dock, which serves as a docking station that automatically switches Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablets into Show Mode, holds your Fire tablet at an adjustable angle, and charges your device.
Show Mode will be delivered to compatible Fire tablets via a free, over-the-air software update, rolling out to customers starting July 2. The Show Mode Charging Dock for Fire HD 8 is $34.99 (regularly $39.99), and the Show Mode Charging Dock for Fire HD 10 is $49.99 (regularly $54.99)–both are currently available for preorder and will begin shipping July 12.
Does the new dock remind anyone else of the docks that launched in 2011 and 2012?
Many years ago third-party companies released speaker docks for Android tablets and the iPhone (or iPod Touch) where you could insert your device and essentially turn it into a media center - some even had a remote you could use to control the audio.
Most of the companies that launched a device shut down after disappointing sales. At the time I thought the failures were due to clunky hardware designs, and while that was certainly true for the models I saw I can now also see that those older docks also didn't really offer a good reason to buy them.
Amazon has found the killer feature for tablets docks. It is Alexa. Now you can simply set the tablet in the dock and then talk at it like you would an Echo.
I'm still waiting for info on when I'll get access to the press briefing, but I can tell you know I can't wait to see it.