Thu Sep 29 2011

Kindle Touch: a big deal. The Fire: we'll see.

Amazon unveiled their new line of Kindle devices today, from the $79 regular and $99 Touch, to the $199 Kindle Fire - an Android-based tablet set to compete with devices like the iPad. At this point it is hard to speculate on the impact the Fire will have on the market, but it is easy to assume that the new double-digit priced Kindle Touch will sell insanely well.

While there was no question that the Kindle was a great device, the old price of $139 made it a non-trivial buy for many avid book readers. A kindle with touch (touch makes a lot of sense if you’ve ever used a Kindle) for $99 dollars is a no-brainer. It’s the best e-ink device out there, and now also the cheapest. As soon as they find a way to ship them worldwide (at the time of this writing, all new Kindle devices are marked as U.S. only), they’re set to make a mint.

Amazon Kindle Fire 5

My question at this point, and the interesting bit of the speculation, is on the impact of the Fire. This because while the media are talking about the Fire as Amazon’s iPad killer, I’m not sure that’s what it is. The Fire will not kill the iPad, but it just might blast the Nook and most Android tablets out of existence.

If the Fire does email, book reading and web browsing well enough, other tablet manufacturers are going to have a hard time competing for a couple of main reasons: price ($199 is very competitive) and the ecosystem (Amazon has store offerings in apps, video, mp3 and books). The reason why I don’t believe it’ll compete against the iPad is because people who buy the iPad are probably interested in doing more than email, reading books and browsing the web.

The bottom-line is this: if you want a tablet to do email or read books, the Fire is extremely compelling. If you want a tablet that does email, books and a whole lot more, you probably don’t need a lot of convincing to chip in the $499 for the iPad 2. All this being said: Amazon just became a key player in the tablet market.