The Kindle Fire looks like a PlayBook because it was designed by the same original design manufacturer (ODM), Quanta.
Even though Amazon has their own team dedicated to Kindle design and development, Lab 126, they wanted to get the Fire out there in time for this holiday season so they outsourced most of it as a shortcut.
Yes, this is the name Amazon has settled on, to help differentiate the product from the e-ink Kindles, which will still be very much alive and for sale. And while Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will show off the Fire on stage, it won’t be ready to ship until the second week of November, we’ve learned.
Here are 10 things to know about the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet:
1) The Kindle Fire will be an expanded version of Amazon’s popular Kindle ereader. At first glance, that concept may underwhelm — but Amazon has shown with the well-priced Kindle that it knows the customer. Also, Amazon’s big ambition is creating a product that ties in seamlessly and easily with the company’s Web site and content. The Kindle ereader does that. And the Kindle Fire tablet will do the very same thing.
2) The Kindle Fire will be similar to the BlackBerry PlayBook, except it won’t have a camera. Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook Motion hasn’t sold very well. But that’s not because it isn’t any good. Most reviews say it’s just fine, except for a few missing components.
3) Amazon’s first tablet will have a 7-inch backlit, multicolor touchscreen. The new tablet will run on a specialized, altered version of Google’s Android operating system. This is a big difference from the Kindle ereader, which uses e-ink. The size will make the Amazon Kindle Fire easy to take along anywhere, as it’ll be smaller than Apple’s iPad.
4) The Kindle Fire is a notable first tablet step for Amazon. Ryan Block, co-founder and technology critic for consumer electronics site gdgt, reports that the tablet is probably a “stopgap” device that will allow Amazon to enter the tablet space quickly. That means all the bells and whistles that will likely come on the next generation won’t be here yet. This is a tablet launch the Amazon way — develop a product that can’t fail then grow it from there.
5) Amazon’s tablet will be cheap — likely $250. No, the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet won’t be an iPad. It won’t look like an iPad. It won’t act like an iPad. But maybe that’s a good thing, especially since it won’t be priced like an iPad, which starts around $499 for an entry level version. The rest of the world wants to enter the tablet realm but they don’t always want to plunk down $500 or more. Amazon’s pricing may be the most compelling aspect of the product.
The company will likely sell its new tablet as a loss leader in terms of hardware costs, so the company can launch it as an immediate competitor to Apple’s iPad and avoid the fate of the doomed HP TouchPad. That’s how Amazon launched the Kindle several years ago, losing money on hardware at first while it grabbed customers and got the cost down. Ditto for the Kindle Fire.
6) The operating system will be based on Google’s Android. But the Kindle Fire tablet is likely to run on an Amazon-specific version most observers believe is built off Android’s 2.1 version. The device will likely have 6GB of storage, and it’ll be Wi-Fi only.
7) The Kindle Fire will deliver access to streaming video. Amazon wouldn’t leave that capability out. Of course not. Especially since Amazon has been building out its streaming video library — making a deal for Amazon Prime subscription members. Soon, Amazon may have as much streaming video content as Netflix. Already, Amazon has a lot, competitively speaking. Other Kindle Fire functions are likely to include an ebook reader (of course), apps, music, and a Web browser.
The Kindle Fire won’t likely have a native email client. RIM’s PlayBook was launched the same way — and critics panned the device. It’ll also be a fair knock against the Kindle Fire. But hey, nobody said Amazon could get it all right out of the gate. It’ll cost less than the iPad, so it’ll have less functionality — likely no camera and no email client. If you can’t handle that, go get an iPad.
9) Not an iPad killer. Many have speculated that the Kindle Fire may be an iPad killer. Directly, it won’t. It’s not an iPad. Neither is it a Galaxy Tab, another top tablet with a 10.1 inch touchscreen. But it’s going to be a serious iPad distraction — because it’ll tap a new base of customers that Apple might have eventually sold to — and probably sooner rather than later.
So while it’s not like many iPad or Galaxy Tab owners are going to drop their tablets and rush out and buy a Kindle Fire, it’s likely many first-time tablet buyers will look hard at the Kindle Fire for a multitude of reasons — primarily price point and Amazon’s content support.
10) For Amazon, the Kindle Fire will be all about content. Amazon wants to sell as many Kindle Fire tablets as the company possibly can. Soon enough, the company will make money from the hardware sales. But one thing Amazon understands — it’s a content company. It has an app store, and millions of ebooks, and the world’s largest online retail store, and streaming movies, and discounted magazine subscriptions and more.
If you buy a Kindle Fire, you’ll likely be very happy with the content offerings and prices — that’s what Amazon does best.