Amazon.com introduced its eagerly awaited tablet computer / e-Reader on Wednesday with a price tag that could make it the first strong competitor in a tablet market that has been dominated by Apple Inc’s iPad. Apple dominated the North American tablet market so far, with 80 per cent of the 7.5 million units shipped during the second quarter of 2011. The new Amazon device, priced at only US$199, may have the biggest impact on other makers of tablets and e-readers – and also on the overall success of e-books.
The Kindle Fire tablet has a seven-inch screen, free data storage over the Internet and a new browser called Amazon Silk. Amazon expects shipments to start on Nov. 15. Amazon also introduced the Kindle Touch, an e-reader with no buttons and a touch screen starting at $99. And it also cut the price of its basic Kindle e-reader to $79 from $99.
Amazon’s cloud computing service, known as EC2, supports Internet browsing on the Kindle Fire, a feature that will speed loading of websites and isn’t available with rival tablets. Although, the Fire has only one button and no volume controls, which may be “a bit annoying” for consumers.
Analysts had expected Amazon’s tablet to be priced around $250 – roughly half the price of Apple’s dominant iPad, which starts at $499. The Nook Color e-reader costs $249. Amazon is expected to sell at least three million Kindle Fires over the U.S. holiday season – the company is willing to sell hardware at a loss to boost sales of their e-books, news magazines, music, games, video and TV.