Amazon has announced their new Android Tablet, the Kindle Fire. For those uninitiated, it’s the follow up to their Kindle e-reader tablet, which has seen quite a bit of success in the e-book landscape. This new color tablet offers more than just reading books though, this tablet is a bridge to all the services Amazon has developed to date. In the palm of your hand is a device that connects to Amazon’s EC2 Cloud storage, their Android App Store, and their music and video store. So, what’s my take on it? Is it the iPad killer some folks in the shadows have been murmuring about?
I’m sad to say it IS NOT an iPad killer, but then again, it was never really meant to be. Amazon isn’t a hardware manufacturer like Apple. I don’t believe it was ever in Amazon’s plan to take on Apple’s iPad. What the Kindle Fire does offers is bridge to all of Amazon’s various offerings, crammed into a single light weight package. Indeed, it is a device that takes advantage of their Android App Store for your apps, the Amazon music and video store for your movies, and it can all be stored in their EC2 Cloud environment. So, the Kindle Fire was made to fit neatly into the Amazon Ecosystem.
Once you get over the brilliant tie in strategy of the Kindle Fire, what about the actual hardware specs? The specs that Amazon has revealed on their site isn’t very impressive, it is a dual core processor, so it should run apps smoothly, but it has an anemic 8GB of storage, and it sounds like there’s no expansion slot to let you add more. To make up for the storage shortcoming though is unlimited storage in Amazon’s EC2 Cloud, but only for your Amazon purchased content. So, if you’re always online somewhere, you can have access to all your stuff, so the 8GB limited onboard storage isn’t won’t be a problem… Or will it… I’m skeptical here, because even though we’re surrounded by wifi locations and networks, there are plenty of places where I don’t have network access, which means, I’ll be cut off from my unlimited storage, and 8GB is really small, at least for me. Heck, I’ve just about filled up my 64GB iPad2, and my 16GB iPhone is about ready to burst from the seams… I guess I’m just a data hog. From a business standpoint, the integration is brilliant, from a practical standpoint, I’m not really sold on it. I’m the type of user that likes to throw my own stuff around, and the more onboard storage the better. Even from the Apple side, my Apps are from the iTunes store (it’s not like I have a choice), but I can’t say the same for my books, magazines and movies.
The other thing that the Fire is touting is faster web browsing with their own custom browser, Amazon Silk. Gizmodo has an article describing how this will work, and it seems that Silk uses a special form of caching which leverages Amazons massive computing power in their EC2 infrastructure. Basically your web browsing goes through them as a proxy which will streamline the content for fast consumption by the Fire. So if you visit a web site, it will get processed by the computers in Amazon’s datacenter before it makes it’s way to the Silk Browser. The benefit will be to ensure compatibility, and also increase speed, since your web browsing will originate from Amazon, not some unknown place on the internet. In addition, this system will learn your preferences and taylor itself to meet your web browsing needs, ensuring a constant fast browsing experience. It sounds good on paper, so I’ll be interested in seeing if it lives up to the marketing hype.
So the Kindle Fire isn’t an iPad killer, at least not in my opinion, but it is a fine addition to Amazon’s product offerings and it will make a fine addition to someone’s tool chest who is comfortable using everything in Amazon’s ecosystem. What’s going to make this thing attractive to people is the price. It’s only $200, compared to the iPad2, which starts at $500. For someone who doesn’t need all the whiz-bang in an iPad, the Kindle Fire may be a great fit, especially with all the services that are available to it. That’s something that no other Android tablet on the market can offer right now. I’ll be watching this one, when it comes out, and I’ll also be interested in seeing what the modding community will do with this tablet once they get there hands on it.
Let me know what you think, Thanks for reading.