Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet no iPad killer but could change the market

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos debuts the new Kindle Fire in New York.Taking a leap from its electronic book reader into the ever-growing tablet market, Amazon made a big splash Wednesday when it launched the new Kindle Fire tablet at half the price of an iPad.

"This is incredible. The new Amazon Kindle Fire will cost only $199," reports Gizmodo. "This is a killer price for a colour tablet. Even while it doesn't match the iPad's features, there's going to be some fierce competition this year."

There's no doubt a tablet at that price is sure to pique plenty of interest, but it may be a little too early to label the Fire as the next iPad killer. But that's not to say it won't have an effect on the burgeoning market.

With a seven-inch backlit colour screen and resolution boasting 169 pixels per inch (slightly higher than the iPad 2's 132), the Fire's IPS panel offers great colour saturation. A customized version of the Android operating system, coupled with a dual core CPU, is said to provide users with incredible speed.

"The first thing that hit us? This. Thing. Is. Really. Fast," according to those from Gizmodo who had a chance to test drive the Kindel Fire. "Swapping between apps—say, going from reading a magazine back to the home menu, or firing up a movie—was very, very impressively fast. Near-instant."

At 14.6 ounces, the Fire certainly weighs less than the 1.33 pounds of its Apple counterpart. This makes the Kindel Fire smaller, lighter and arguably faster than the iPad, but there is too much missing from the Fire to suggest the two are even in the same league.

The Fire's Internet connection is limited to Wi-Fi while the iPad 2 offers both Wi-Fi and 3G wireless. The Fire lacks cameras and microphones while the iPad 2's front and back-facing cameras provide seamless photo taking and videoconferencing.

Battery life is always important for any mobile device and the Fire, once again, falls short - eight hours of reading or seven and a half for video while the iPad 2 lasts up to 10 hours. The Amazon Android App store has approximately 10,000 apps, not even close to that of Apple that boasts more than 100,000.

The Fire and its 8 GB of internal storage can't hold a candle to an iPad 2 that offers 16 to 64 GB. Now some might argue the 8 GB is hardly a downfall since cloud technology appears to be the future of storage, but there's a reason why Apple continues to offer tablets with substantial GB despite the emergence of the iCloud.

"A seven-inch tablet is for content consumption, not for the kind of content creation that can be done on the iPad," argues Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with Gartner in the Computerworld story.

Yet despite a healthy list of downfalls and missing features, there's no reason to believe the Kindle Fire will not be a success. In fact, its low cost could successfully split the market in two, with Apple dominating the high end while Amazon perfects the low end.

"The under-$200 price point has been thriving, while the Android competitors who have priced their tablets at Apple's range have not," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst for Technology Business Research in a Computerworld story. "What's emerged is a two-level market."

Industry experts have already predicted Android tabloid makers will slash their prices - no tablet claiming to be comparable has come close to threatening Apple. And as if RIM needed another headache, its struggles with the PlayBook are sure to worsen as many wonder if the tablet can handle such an inexpensive competitor.

A competent, viable tablet at such a low cost could very well influence some tough decisions on both the competition and those looking to purchase a tablet in the near future.

"There will be a little loss to Apple, but for the most part, consumers will ask themselves this question: 'Do I want a $200 tablet or a $500 tablet?' " said Gottheil.

(Reuters Photo)