Amazon.com unveiled its long-awaited 7-inch Android-based tablet, dubbed the Kindle Fire. The device, which has Wi-Fi but no 3G cellular connectivity, will cost $199 and go on sale Nov. 15. It will be available for preorder today.
Click here for a commercial for Amazon's Kindle Fire.
The Kindle Fire, which represents the boldest challenge yet to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) dominant iPad, does not attempt to directly compete with it in terms of specifications or via a relationship with wireless carriers. Amazon's tablet, which runs a modified version of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, has no camera or microphone, and is $300 cheaper than the least expensive iPad 2 with Wi-Fi connectivity.
The Kindle Fire sports a dual-core 1 GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4 processor, 8 GB of internal storage and the battery is rated for eight hours of continuous reading. The device also uses Amazon's EC2 cloud computing engine to deliver a mobile Internet browsing experience Amazon calls "Silk." The service combines Amazon's EC2 cloud engine and the device to offer a faster browsing experience, Amazon said.
"What we are doing is offering premium products at non-premium prices," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told Bloomberg Businessweek. Other tablets "have not been competitive on price" and "have just sold a piece of hardware. We don't think of the Kindle Fire as a tablet. We think of it as a service."
At a media event in New York to unveil the new device, Bezos said all of the content on the Kindle Fire is backed up in the cloud and can be deleted whenever a user wants. The Kindle Fire uses Amazon's Whispersync technology to sync movies and TV shows with a user's TV as well. The device features multi-tasking and a search function that works on the device, the cloud and through Amazon's Web services. It also features Amazon's Appstore application storefront.
Amazon also unveiled a new version of its Kindle ereader, the $99 Kindle Touch, which is smaller and lighter and does not have a keyboard and instead uses a touch-based interface. However, Bezos also unveiled the $149 Kindle Touch 3G, which is essentially the same device with 3G connectivity, though it does not require an annual contract or monthly fee. The service is provided by AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), but AT&T is not the exclusive provider of the 3G service for the Kindle Touch 3G. Additionally, Amazon also announced a slimmer $79 Kindle. Preorders for those devices start today and they will be available Nov. 21.
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