“We haven’t built the best tablet at a certain price. We have built the best tablet at any price.” Those were the words of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos from a former airplane hangar in Santa Monica, California as he announced two year versions of the Kindle Fire tablet, that aim to take the competition to biggest rival Apple.
The Kindle Fire HD will come in two sizes: 7 inches and 8.9 inches and will retail at $199 and $299 respectively for the 16GB models. Also made available will be an iPad-rivaling 8.9 inch premium version with 32GB of RAM and 4G LTE network capability. The new tablets also come with two Wi-Fi channels for increased transfer speed.
The basic Kindle Fire which has proven to be a big success in the United States, and according to Amazon has captured 22% of the tablet market in the nine months since it went on sale, is being reduced to a very affordable $159. While the Kindle Fire has taken a decent market share in the US, it is still lagging behind Apple, especially when it comes to global tablet shipments. In a Q2 press release put out by research firm IDC, the iPad accounted for 68% of global shipments, compared to the Kindle Fire’s 5%. Of course, the iPad has wider global coverage than the Kindle Fire, but this could soon be changing as Amazon has announced that two of the new models will be available in the UK and Europe.
The original Kindle Fire will retail at £129 ($200) in the UK and €159 ($200) in Europe, with the HD models starting at £159 ($253) for the 7-inch 16GB version. Availability of the devices in popular consumer markets like the UK , France, Germany, Spain and Italy is likely to see the balance of power even up somewhat in terms of worldwide sales between Amazon and Apple.
The Kindle Fire will also go head-to-head with the new Google Nexus 7 which retails at $199.
Unlike Apple that look to make maxim profits off their iPad devices, Amazon focus more, not on the tablet, but what is consumed on it. Amazon’s range of books, movies and music is where they have looked to make their money, which has resulted in little profit margin on sales of the Kindle Fire. The Fire is an inferior tablet to the iPad in terms of specs, but is able to compete on price. These new Kindle Fire HD models, particularly the 8.9-inch version, look as though Amazon is really stepping up their game to compete with Apple on every level. And the rivalry between the two companies could yet intensify further with rumors of Apple looking at producing smaller, cheaper tablets, and Amazon considering the launch of a smartphone to rival the iPhone.