BREAKING NEWS & VIEWS
Amazon Offers New ‘In-Betweener’ Fire Model To Challenge iPad
Friday, September 7, 2012
In addition to internal upgrades to the 7-inch Fire model from last year, the principle addition to the line was the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD. Essentially, Amazon is trying to split the difference between 7 and 10 inch tablets. The positioning tries to have it both ways. It puts the Kindle Fire HD close enough to the iPad for favorable comparisons on price and portability, but at the same time keeps a safe distance form really going head to head. We imagine that Amazon was also hoping to pre-empt Apple’s expected introduction of a smaller iPad, now rumored to come in an October launch.
For publishers the somewhat larger screen real estate makes the Fire a more plausible magazine reader than it was. The marketing around the new hardware suggests no change to the digital magazine model at Amazon. The Amazon store claims 400 titles but in various levels of enhancement from repurposed print versions. The magazine reader still highlights its reader mode function, which extracts text from articles on a page. It is not clear whether the higher resolution of the new generation of Fires will require different formatting of magazine issues.
Amazon’s strategy here strikes me as a bit strange. While the Fire HD models are less expensive than most models of the iPad, the price difference is not as striking as it once was. The consumer choosing now between an advanced Fire and an iPad is no longer being lured by price. All that is left with which the Fire can compete is the hardware game (which has not worked with countless Android tablets) and the allure of the Amazon content eco-system, much of which is available on the iPad at higher resolutions, sharper views and on a larger screen.
Also, the tech-addled press was too preoccupied with the hardware to report on a glaring difference between the Kindle Fire family and every other tablet on the market; they are ad-supported. Previously, Amazon had offered lower-priced Kindle reader units that had deals and offers presented when in sleep mode. Amazon announced very quietly and in the nether-reaches of what may be the world's largest press release, that ll Kindle Fire models would show offers on the lock screen. We await the consumer verdict on spending hundreds of dollars on a personal electronic gadget that wakes up with a promotional offer from the manufacturer.
It seems too easy for the consumer to slip out of the niche Amazon wants for them to buy cheaper (the standard Fire 7-inch) or higher (the iPad). Is there really an in-between market here?
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