Amazon Bets New Kindles Plus Content Can Beat Apple
Amazon (AMZN) is laying down a direct challenge to Apple and its dominance of the tablet market.
At a press conference on Thursday—at the unusual location of a private airport in Santa Monica—the rapidly growing online retailer put a fleet of new devices on the runway, including a new 7-inch and nearly iPad-size 8.9-inch Kindle Fire, plus new e-ink Kindles. It also made a bevy of content and technology announcements and tried to position itself as the most inventive of the high-tech companies that are unveiling new hardware this fall in a race to dominate the next wave of mobile computing.
With the announcements, Amazon is doubling down on the hypercompetitive hardware business, which it entered five years ago with the first Kindle. In a reversal of strategy that characterized the launch of the original Kindle Fire last year, which was bare-bones in its functionality, the company is packing high-end features such as dual-band Wi-Fi into what it calls the Kindle Fire HD. The new tablet will have 16 gigabytes of memory and access to 100,000 audio books from Amazon’s Audible subsidiary. A new WhisperSync for Voice feature will allow readers to listen to an audio book and then pick up that book in the exact same place to start reading.
The new 7-inch Kindle Fire HD will cost $199 and be available next week. The slightly larger version will cost $299 and ship on Nov. 20, and yet another version, with 4G LTE wireless, will cost $499 with a 49.99-per-year data plan. “A year ago we were content to have the best tablet at this price,” Bezos said. “This year we want to have the best tablet at any price.”