Thoughts on Amazon’s New Kindle Lineup

Amazon made the Internet shake on Wednesday September 28 by announcing their all new line up of Kindle e-reading devices along with the introduction of their long rumored tablet called the Kindle Fire. Since I am a huge Amazon fan, I want to share some of my initial thoughts on these new devices. When I initially saw what was made available, I immediately nodded my head because finally, a company learns what is one of the most important thing a consumer looks for when purchasing a device (or pretty much any other thing in general): the price. While there are obviously tons of other things that have a impact on whether a consumer pick one device over another, you just can’t help but acknowledge that the price has a lot of influence. Within this article, I’m going to first talk about the all new Kindle electronic readers. Afterwards, I’ll talk about the Kindle Fire.

Killing Them Softly….

Amazon’s introduction of their new Kindle lineup pretty much just killed the competition. I mean total annihilation! There is just no way any other company who manufactures e-readers can compete with Amazon, especially with such a low starting price point. No way. Before we go into that, let’s actually take a look at the new Kindle’s starting lineup!

Kindle for $79 ($109 without special offers)

Kindle
You can get a lot more information on this Kindle model by visiting its main product page on Amazon here.

This is the lowest and most basic Kindle model. For only $79, you can own one of the best e-reading devices. Of course, being only $79, there will be drawbacks but if you sit down and look at the specifications, some of them may not even matter to you. For example, this Kindle model has no audio capabilities whatsoever. Therefore, you won’t be able to load your MP3 music onto it as there is no output speakers or headphone jack. Equipped with only 2GB of storage, some may consider that paltry. However, do realize that a eBook is very, very small in size and so it will take a lot of purchases for you to completely fill up the storage. Also, since Amazon keeps a backup of your purchases in the cloud, you can easily store what you want on the Kindle and keep everything else off of it. When you do need those items, you can easily re-download them via the cloud. As there is no dedicated keyboard, typing notes and whatnot will be a little more difficult as you now have to use the controller to navigate an on-screen keyboard (which always sucks).  However, if all you do is read and don’t have to take a lot of notes like me, this is a non-issue. Also, there is no 3G version of this basic Kindle model.

I think this entry level Kindle will be very hard to beat. Seriously guys, $79? This should make it much more easier for you to decide on whether to purchase it or not and if you do, you won’t feel guilty about it afterwards. If you so happen to lose the device, you can have a peace of mind that it was only $79! A lot of people were waiting for the Kindle to drop to that magical $99 price point. Well, Amazon has done that and more! Their new motto is giving customers premium products without premium prices. I really have to admit that I am a Amazon fanboy. I just can’t see how anyone wouldn’t be.

Kindle Touch for $99 ($139 without special offers and $149 for 3G version)

Kindle Touch
You can get a lot more information on this Kindle model by visiting its main product page on Amazon here.

The Kindle Touch is Amazon’s first touch screen Kindle. Barnes & Noble, which produces the Nook and is one of Amazon’s main competitor in the e-reader arena, already has a touch screen reader out for some time now. For only $20 more, you get a Kindle with more functionality and perks than the basic Kindle model. These include having the Kindle read to you (possible due to the external speaker), 4GB of on-board storage, and the ability to listen to your music via a headphone or speaker. Having the ability to use your fingers to navigate around the Kindle is a lot easier than say if you had to use a control stick. If you are one of those users who wants to get the most out of the device (for example, using it other than for the sole purpose of reading) than the Kindle Touch is definitely the model you want to get. Personally, I don’t care too much about having a touch screen Kindle because I fall into the group of users that only utilize the Kindle for heavy reading and not much else. Once I open a book, the only thing I concern myself with is the next page button and that’s it. Therefore, I don’t really benefit from the ease of navigation afforded to me with the touch screen. However, I would still need to get this version because I love to listen to music while reading. While I could use a different device, it’s much more convenient to do it on the Kindle.

The previous Kindle models will now become the Kindle Keyboard edition. If you want a dedicated keyboard without the touch screen, this is the model for you. It has dropped down to the $99 price point for the Wi-Fi only model with the 3G model becoming only $139.

Pricing is Everything

Like I said earlier, Amazon has gotten the e-reader market locked up with their new Kindle lineup. Sure, there are definitely other e-readers out there that achieves the same purpose of the Kindle but then they don’t have the same brand recognition as does Amazon, which is the biggest online retailer right now. Sony, Barnes and Nobel and whoever else making these devices really have to refocus their strategy. What I really like about the Kindles with the special offers is how unobtrusive the ads are. Amazon can help you save a couple of bucks if you get a Kindle loaded with advertisements. These advertisements show themselves when you turn off the Kindle (the screensaver) and on your Home screen page. It does not ever rear it’s ugly head in when you are actually reading a book! I’m hoping this is exactly how it works on the new Kindle lineup as well.

The iPad Competitor Has Finally Arrived?

The main attraction of Amazon’s new lineup of devices is without a doubt the Kindle Fire. People are already claiming this to be a iPad killer while many others think otherwise. In my honest opinion, this is far from being the iPad killer but then again, I don’t really think that was Amazon’s ultimate goal to begin with. The market is definitely big enough for two players. It seems as if Amazon is not really focused at what others are doing but only on how they should be doing. With the Kindle Fire, Amazon can really call it the perfect companion to the Amazon fan because it truly connects them with their digital content, which of course was bought or rented through Amazon themselves.

Kindle Fire for $199

Kindle Fire
You can get a lot more information on the Kindle Fire by visiting its main product page on Amazon here.

The Kindle Fire is a 7 inch tablet device that has a lot more functionality than the dedicated e-reading devices. One of the main differences is that the Kindle Fire has a traditional LCD display whereas the regular Kindle have a special e-ink display. This makes reading on the Kindle Fire for long amounts of time just as painful as on the iPad or on your computer. Whereas the original Kindle is mainly a dedicated e-reading device, the Kindle Fire allows for much more such as browsing online via Amazon’s special Silk browser, download apps from Amazon’s Android app store, and allowing customers to purchase music and watch movies online. In other words, Amazon wants you to buy the Kindle Fire so that you can access the other content you have purchased through the same company a lot easier. Many people compare the Kindle Fire to what the razor blade companies are doing. They practically hand out the shaving sticks for next to nothing while recuperating the costs by selling users the razor blades themselves. With that being said though, the Kindle Fire has a lot of things lacking once you take a good look at the specs.

After a quick look, the Kindle Fire will only include 8GB of internal storage space and lacks 3G, Bluetooth and a camera. This is surprising because how can this device compete with the iPad with so many features missing? The answer in my opinion is that Amazon isn’t trying to knock off the iPad, at least for now. Some are not even willing to consider the Kindle Fire as a true tablet device. I think Amazon wants the Kindle Fire in everyone’s hand because that way, they make more money in return since those customers will most likely be purchasing things directly from Amazon as well (the razor blade analogy). Also, the Kindle Fire really shows how Amazon is starting to lean towards cloud storage as a storage mechanism. No matter how you look at it, 8GB is not that much and so users will definitely need to get use to the idea of storing their data in the cloud.

The Kindle Fire is based on the Android operating system but Amazon doesn’t want you to think that. They have built and altered the operating system for their own needs and so the result is not a tablet or device that you would be familiar with just because you have used an Android device in the past. The Kindle Fire will include Amazon’s own app store so users can download apps just like how others can in the Apple Store and Android Marketplace. The very cool thing about this is that Amazon includes a special free app of the day that anyone can download and install at no charge. This is definitely enticing and helps promote different app developers.

Anyways, my initial take is that while the Kindle Fire cannot knock the iPad from the top of the tablet world, it can definitely give them a run for their money. In fact, I don’t even like to compare the Kindle Fire to the iPad. For $199, the Kindle Fire will definitely appeal to a much different crowd and that’s what it’s all about. Competition. I myself purchase a lot of things from Amazon and so I can see the appeal of the Kindle Fire. A lot of people have no use for a dedicated camera (like myself) and 3G as well (probably because they can’t afford it, like me) but I was a little disappointed with the Bluetooth functionality missing. Now that I do use. With Bluetooth, users can use Skype or another VoIP application to make phone calls. Rumor has it that Amazon will release a more feature rich tablet a little later on to cater to the hardcore users and so I think many people will wait things out a bit before putting their money down. I would gladly pay a little more for the added Bluetooth functionality, provided that an app in Amazon’s app store allows me to utilize it to make calls over Wi-Fi.

What This Ultimately Means

What Amazon did here is unique. We all know that both Amazon and Apple are power house companies. What about all the others? For many years, dozens of companies have tried to compete with the iPad and have failed miserably because they just don’t have what it takes. A very recent example of this is the HP tablet fiasco. You would think that if other companies can’t beat the iPad by trying to match their price point, what makes HP think they can do it? Of course, they couldn’t and decided to cut off the their tablet and this is only after 3 or so months after its release! The crazy part is they had to liquidate their products so they gave the green light to mark the devices down to only $99. Guess what. It flew off the shelves and was sold out everywhere in just a few days. Point I’m trying to make? Pricing is everything!

Now that Amazon offers their tablet for $199 and Apple for $499, anybody stuck in the middle is going to have it hard. Another big issue to consider is brand recognition. Even if a company manages to push out a tablet below the $199 price point, many users will still choose to pay a little extra more to get a Amazon-backed product. Some Android based tablets might be able to make room for themselves, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab but others will definitely feel the pressure in the tablet market. Amazon was smart and rather than pricing their tablet at near the same price point as the iPad, they choose to go the other route. I’ve always thought doing so, along with having a strong marketing campaign, can be the difference maker. Now that Amazon has done it, it’s only a matter of time to see if this strategy will play out as expected. There’s a lot more I want to talk about concerning these devices but don’t want this article to go overboard. Hopefully, Amazon will grant my wish and send me a review unit of the Kindle Fire once it releases so I can write about it.

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Comments

  1. What I personally like about it is low price. It would promote low cost tablet . No comparison with iPad. its way too much costly to be even compared with it. Kudos to amazon !!

    • Exactly! I don’t have a need for a tablet but considering how much things I buy from Amazon, this might be a good way for me to consume those digital media. I’m also not exactly sure why people keep wanting the Kindle Fire to beat out the iPad. The market is big enough for both players and clearly both devices appeal to different consumers.

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