As expected, Amazon.com announced an updated Kindle Fire lineup this week. The new devices range in price.
I’m totally disappointed by Amazon.com’s new updated Kindle Fire lineup. Varying in price from the US$139.00 Kindle Fire 7-inch HD with 8GB of storage all the way up to an 8.9 Kindle Fire HDX with LTE’ and 64GB of storage for $579. Even lamer is the additional money hustle wherein purchasers need to spend an additional $15 to opt out of the ‘special offer’ ads that automatically display themselves on the lock screen. Always. Indeed, you won’t be at all surprised that Amazon’s hard-sell strategy with these new Fire models is to squeeze in as much product per dollar as possible. Amazon’s broader business philosophy of throwing scores of costly apps at customers with the ruthless, relentless aim of earn more and more filthy lucre on every occasion in which people use their devices, will surely irritate and turn off any implicit passion for their toys which so many iPad users have.
However, straight up, compared to iPad, the new versions of the Kindle Fire are just as unsuccessful as their previous attempts to rock Apple’s world. For sure, while the new Kindle Fire sports good-looking hardware specifications, Amazon’s software ecosystem is vastly inferior to that of Apple every which way you can think of. Consequently, the savvy average consumer really has been willing to cough up that fur ball of an extra $100-$200 for an iPad, and this status quo will surely remain the case this fall.
Graphics Boost: The new Kindle HDX tablet line offers higher resolution than last year’s Kindle Fire HD line: 1,920×1,200 for the 7-inch model, and 2,560×1,600 for the 8.9-inch model. These compare to a 1,280×800 resolution on the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD. And, to support these new “Retina”-type displays, Amazon has upgraded from a dual-core 1.5GHz processor supplied by Texas Instruments to a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. The new processor is three times more powerful than the Kindle Fire HD processor and is also expected to provide better graphics performance.
New features: Amazon added some new features. One is the ‘Mayday’ button, which links you up instantaneously to live tech support (24/7) through a video call. Rest assured if you’re skittish about going one-on-one with strangers, though. You can see them, but Amazon’s tech support person cannot see you. Support agents will be able to help walk challenged customers through of the most problematic situations and minor crises they encounter, and can, I’m told in the Amazon blurb, remotely control the tablet for you should that prove necessary.
Amazon is also adding new features for watching TV and movies. First, Amazon will allow Prime members to download Prime Instant Video content to their tablets, enabling offline viewing. Additionally, Amazon have also introduced a feature called ‘Second Screen.’ This new feature really is extremely cool because it will let you beam video content to your television while, simultaneously, allowing the user to do something else on the tablet.
As with Android Tablets, Kindle products have way lower-quality tablet apps, not to mention a huge numerical deficiency (375,000 iPad-optimized apps, vs. less than 100,000 tablet-optimized Android apps). Additionally, please be aware that Amazon does not allow Kindle Fire users to access the Google Play store, preferring to send customers to the Amazon app store instead. Kindle Fire tablets therefore have an even worse selection of apps than other Android competitors such as the Nexus 7.
Now, seriously, I am not a salesman for Apple, but there really is a reason for the huge customer preference for the iPad. The overwhelming popularity of the iPad repeatedly shows up in web usage statistics. While the U.S. is by far Amazon’s top market for Kindle Fire tablets, iPads represent a whopping 84% of U.S./Canada web traffic, compared to less than 6% for Amazon tablets! Chit-chatting with my friends and spies who do comparison-shopping of their own says that most of the folks out there who prefer low-tech solutions simply find Kindle products child’s-play. Yet, for me, when I have read different modes of text on the iPad, it’s far simpler to work. The bottom line is that Amazon will probably sell up to 10 million tablets this fall and then very few after Christmas is done, according to Harris Poll surveys of the last 2 product cycles. Meanwhile, Apple sold nearly 23 million iPads in the 2012 fall quarter in spite of severe supply constraints. With Apple expected to release a 5th-generation full-size iPad and a 2nd-generation iPad Mini next month, there is every reason to believe that it will surpass last year’s total this fall.