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The Kindle Fire just Killed Off the Android Tablet Market

Amazon debuted quite a few devices today but none was more impressive than the Kindle Fire.

This is a 7″ Android tablet running a custom home screen on top of Gingerbread. It’s using a dual core 1GHz Texas Instruments OMAPs CPU with Wifi, 8GB Flash storage, unlimited storage ion Amazon’s servers, but no camera or Bluetooth. I checked the model number and this is the Do1400 tablet that I found last night on the FCC.

It’s going to ship with the all of Amazon’s apps, including mp3, video, Kindle, shopping, Appstore. This tablet is very much designed to get you to buy stuff from Amazon.   It’s also quite clear that I’ve wrong all along; this is a subsidized tablet. Based on the specs, I beleive Amazon are taking a loss on this tablet in order to get in front of your eyeballs.

It’s also going to ship with the new Amazon Silk browser. This app is is part of the new generation of hybrid browsers, and this one works much like the Opera Mini web browser, Part of the app runs on the kFire and part runs on Amazon’s servers. Splitting the workload means that you’ll get a better and faster browsing experience.  Amazon are spending their own money to run the servers, too.

All content bought from Amazon will also be backed up for you just like Kindle ebooks. I asked, but I couldn’t get confirmation that it would support Kindle Cloud, which means personal ebooks might not be archived.

In the few minutes that I had it in front of me, I thought it was quite zippy. I think it might be using a better Kindle app and I was quite impressed with how well it did Angry Birds and showed videos. It’s much nicer than any other $200 tablet. When it hits the market in November at $199 it will quite literally overturn the entire budget tablet market.

This might be a Playbook clone but with its current price I do not care. I don’t see why anyone thought this was a make-do tablet.  It also could undercut the premium tablets. Yes performance was that good.

The Playbook is dead. The HTC Flyer is dead. Right now the only surviving spot for a premium tablet is 10″, and that will only last until Amazon release the 10″ version of the Kindle Fire. It’s rumored to be arriving next year, and it could spell doom for well, everyone.

This tablet has pretty decent specs when compared to the Nook Color. Screen resolution is the same and the kFire has an extra CPU core, the same amount of Flash storage, a newer version of Android. The kFire also costs $50 than the current NookColor, and that could be the killer.

Barnes & Noble are going to have to discount pretty steeply if they want their new tablet, the NookColor Acclaim, to have a shot. Current list price for the Acclaim is $350 and after what I’ve seen today that is simply too much.

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Tablazines September 28, 2011 um 2:26 pm

Looks like a great piece of technology and the first Android tablet worth me considering to purchase.

The thing is it’s running Android 2.2 not Honeycomb once again widening the fragmentation. I wonder how Google feels about that seeing they’re pushing that as THE tablet OS

Nate Hoffelder September 28, 2011 um 3:06 pm

No, it’s running Gingerbread not Froyo.

lomdar67 September 28, 2011 um 2:28 pm

I think you are forgetting one importent thing: The Fire like the Touch are US only. This was cinfirmed by customer support here in Germany! So there is plenty of room for cheap Android tablets in the rest of the world.

Nate Hoffelder September 28, 2011 um 3:05 pm

True. Sometimes I get tripped up by my US centric viewpoint.

James September 28, 2011 um 5:45 pm

The new base model Kindle e-reader is up for pre-order in the UK. While can ship outside of the UK as well.

So perhaps they’re just waiting until they can ramp up production before going for a world wide release with the KF.

Mind the pricing will be higher than the US release for all models though.

Sherri September 28, 2011 um 2:32 pm

I pre-ordered mine this morning. I was probably going to get one anyway, but at $199? No brainer.

gous September 28, 2011 um 2:37 pm

There is no way that Google could allow Amazon to run away with the Android tablet market. A side effect of today is that they will now almost certainly enter the hardware market themselves.

Nate Hoffelder September 28, 2011 um 3:06 pm

But can they afford to price their new tablets competitively?

gous September 28, 2011 um 3:37 pm

Well they certainly have enough cash onhand, and you would think the subsidised 'special offers' Amazon uses could be adopted by Google. Their real problem is that they have no retail presence. Perhaps they should just buy B&N. I’ve got a feeling that stock is going to be real cheap soon…

James September 28, 2011 um 5:51 pm

Google does have alternative revenue and cloud services, along with owning Motorola could mean they make a similar move but that would likely hurt their relations with the other Android device makers, which are already worried that Google would do that as is when they acquired Motorola.

However, I think this is all still premature. The Amazon KF is limited by its reliance on the cloud and without 3G/4G the KF will thus be heavily reliant on WiFi access.

No card reader and limited internal capacity is less acceptable on a tablet than it is for a ereader.

So traditional Android tablets can still have an advantage depending on how they are used.

Though once more powerful tablets become available, like running Windows 8. Then it’ll be a much more serious concern for the tablets out now.

HTCFlyerReader September 28, 2011 um 2:46 pm

Interesting articles, but I don’t think the tablet market is going to become Amazon only. If the user is into the Amazon eco-system, much like the Apple people, then these are for them. For those of us that prefer choice, I’d rather get a regular tablet (Toshiba 7″ Thrive looks like a good choice) and use it for ereading. I use my Flyer with the Scribe pen to keep meeting notes, which is the only one of this size that does this particular function, but I use it as my book and magazine reader. If I was just going to use it for entertainment, I would go with the Toshiba or the Archos G9 80. Does this have the Android Market? I wonder if Netflix is going to work on it.

Thanks for the reporting.

Logan Kennelly September 28, 2011 um 3:06 pm

No Android Market, but it includes the Amazon Market. The Netflix application is not present, but I’m not sure whether that’s an active choice by Amazon or Netflix not caring (or disliking the development agreement).

The large number of competitive book readers in the Amazon Market gives me hope, though.

dave blevins September 28, 2011 um 3:16 pm

UR rite — both the Thrive and G9 80 pass the Fire as a full-functioned table. The Fire seems more like a reader/media device with a "neat" browser. Fire has no camera, no mike (no video conf), no GPS (so you still need your TomTom), and no g-sensor, etc. so games will be quite simple and it won’t run the best of them.

I was quite disappointed to have the missing the sensors and cameras comformed. As well as missing the Prime subscription — a one month teaser is a poor substitute.

Logan Kennelly September 28, 2011 um 3:52 pm

The "neat" browser has been available for years. Check out Opera Mobile or the newcomer Skyfire. The lack of hardware isn’t a disappointment since it means they get a lower pricepoint.

And everyone gets a month of free Prime. Just click the link on the web site.

Nate Hoffelder September 28, 2011 um 4:08 pm

Ye, I mention Opera.

But thanks for pointing out Skyfire, I didn’t know thta it had this in common.

Nate Hoffelder September 28, 2011 um 4:22 pm

I would, but they didn’t have the early bus times i needed. The only bus that could get me there on time was at 1:30 am.

Logan Kennelly September 28, 2011 um 3:03 pm

gous, I’ll respond here as I didn’t on Teleread.

What are you talking about!?! Google defines the open platform and lets manufacturers compete on hardware. Is HTC running away with Android by including Sense? Is Amazon going to open up the "Amazon OS" to other manufacturers? The existing Android tablets are more functional than the Kindle Fire and more flexible.

And Nate, this not the end of the Android tablet market. That’s preposterous! We could see the Lenovo A1 by mid-November, and, for the extra $50, packs a lot more punch and includes the full Android experience. The Archos G9 looks like it could be good and are bringing in a hard drive for a better on-the-go media experience (although the marketing and retail are always a problem for Archos). Who knows what the Galaxy Tab 7 will bring…?

No, Amazon is just pushing some price pressure on the market. If you want an Android tablet, you can get a lot more for a small amount of money by going with a non-Amazon device. If you want an Amazon media tablet, the Kindle Fire is going to be the premier platform at a great price.

Nate Hoffelder September 28, 2011 um 3:35 pm

Logan, you’re right. I got caught up in the hype.

But this tablet i so cool!

gous September 28, 2011 um 3:48 pm

We shall just have to wait and see, but Google is buying Motorola Mobility and it would be foolish to wait while its hardware 'partners' watch their profit margins vanish. There is a real danger here that the hardware manufacturers will find themselves squeezed between Amazon’s low end strategy and Apple’s high end path.

'The existing Android tablets are more functional than the [iPad] and more flexible.' Does not seem to have helped sales all that much.

Logan Kennelly September 28, 2011 um 3:57 pm

The sales of Android tablets are another issue. The software isn’t quite ready yet (wait a couple of months for an actual open platform release), the Android tablet market is essentially only five months old, and, ultimately, I think tablets are a niche product that are largely being driven by marketing.

Even then, estimates seem to put Android at 40–60% of the market next year…

fjtorres September 28, 2011 um 4:01 pm

Yes, Amazon is "only" putting price pressure on the market. But what if that price pressure sucks all the profits of lower-volume retailers?

When B&N started the 4 hour price war last year all they did was put price presure on the market. abut when Amazon answered with a match and later the K3 they effectively foreclosed the NorthAm market to dozens of pre-announced readers from the likes of Asus, Acer, Samsung, who were planning to break into the market.

I’m not sure Fire is going to actually kill the entire market, but everybody not named Apple is going to be under intense pressure to get their price/performance in line with it. And some brands *will* go away. Pandigital is one high volume player now at risk. Viewsonic. Most of the no-names.
More importantly, Amazon is changing the equation for what an android tablet is expected to do, out of the box, just as Kindle changed the equation for what an ebook reader needs to do. As of now, video streaming via Netflix or Hulu is required, video sales and rentals, a music store, ereader, a first-tier appstore; a tablet either has it or justifies why not. It is no longer enough to get a decent CPU, a fair screen, and generic Android. Real, proprietary, added value is needed, so development cost went up but expected sale price went down.

Life just got a whole lot tougher in generic android land.

burger flipper September 28, 2011 um 4:32 pm

I think there’s now a fair chance Lenovo will release the 8 gig 200 dollar version of their tablet as the low end instead of just the 16 gig 250 buck option.

Syn September 28, 2011 um 3:33 pm

I think Nate means for mainstream, and lets face it, that is what Samsung and the rest are after and that is what Amazon just snagged today. Most don’t root, don’t hack, don’t want hassel, love Amazon’s products, and customer service etc..

Sorry, its going to be hard for anyone to compete with Amazon loyalty, aside from Apple. The major downside I see with this device is the lack of SD support, but the average consumer probably isn’t going to care. As Apple says, its all there and it just works, and thats what the average consumer wants.

And the irony so far, is that Amazon just cut Google out of their own, open system. That’s pretty big since most are cut off from the Market and now will be routed to Amazon’s.

Luqman September 28, 2011 um 3:53 pm

I may get it in the future, but right now I’m happy with my Thrive: removable battery, USB Host, Full HDMI, Full-sized SD slot, Bluetooth, GPS, G-Sensor, and two cameras. I do eagerly await the release of an Amazon video app for other tablets, though.

Mike Cane September 28, 2011 um 4:33 pm

I am probably the only person in the world who has absolutely no interest in this. Now I’ll sound like someone who bashes the iPad, but: No SD card slot? Srsly?

fjtorres September 28, 2011 um 4:38 pm

Not alone, sir…
I’m drooling over the K4 mini at $79.
Only thing stopping me is I really would prefer it had 3g.
So I might go with the Keyboard Kindle at $139.
Amazon had goodies for everybody, today.

fjtorres September 28, 2011 um 4:48 pm

Oh, about the SD card:
Don’t think of the fire as a computer, but rather as a smart terminal to the Amazon cloud hyper-mainframe.

Dunno if you remember the days of mainframes and minicomputers but those didn’t have removable storage, either. Was’t needed. in that architcture.

RobBrown September 28, 2011 um 5:58 pm

Nope, not alone. Bluetooth is the #1 killer for me, lack of camera is #2.

Sweetpea September 29, 2011 um 3:19 am

Absolutely not! I just can’t understand why they wouldn’t give a multimedia device an external memory slot… Beside that major problem, I agree it’s a nice looking device that may open some manufacturer’s eyes. (I won’t mention the "killer" thing for a geographically restricted device…)

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Jim September 28, 2011 um 7:34 pm

It’s cheap, and it has great specs, but I refuse to buy a tablet that doesn’t have some sort of memory card slot or one that is dependent on one specific company to be fully functional. That rules out any Kindle and and iPad.

curiousity killed the… September 28, 2011 um 8:57 pm

i’m sorry i dont get why this is even remotely an android tablet market killer.

its running android 2.3 which by the time its out to buy it will be nearly a year old.(not to mention its been said time and again anything below 3.0 is not really meant for tablets)

no android market(until it gets hacked in 3 months or less lol)

no sd card slot of any kind(which will probably make it harder to do anything outside of the amazon hub of functionality)

no front camera(back cameras are useless but the front would be useful for skype like chatting)

bottom line this may beat out every tablet on the market thats $200 or less and become a no brainer but i can slap down an extra $100 and get a 10″ thrive with full usb port,full sd card,full hdmi,full android market 2 cameras,bluetooth,gps the list goes on and on plus 3.2 honeycomb and theres other high end tablets out that are dropping their prices slowly more and more towards the xmas season that will be vastly better over all than the kft for 50-$100 more so why skimp on this?

Kurt September 29, 2011 um 12:27 pm

no card reader
no buy

don’t trust the cloud

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Emmanuel October 20, 2011 um 8:30 am

If 200 dollars is a no brainer what is a 136 dollars + better specs ?

nook color (refurbished) now selling for 136 dollars

Nate Hoffelder October 20, 2011 um 9:01 am

Better specs? not necessarily. The NC has a single core CPU and it’s a closed system. Also, the bluetooth is disabled, so you cannot count it as a better feature.

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