It is safe to say that the place of Apps in the Kindle hardware line is about to change rather drastically. This Wednesday a press conference has been scheduled for Jeff Bezos to officially announce and demonstrate the new Kindle Tablet, which we now know to go by the name “Kindle Fire“.
This has seemed like an inevitability for a long while now, and Amazon has certainly done plenty to pave the way for a positive experience. Moves have been made to lure Android developers over to the Amazon App Store, which makes perfect sense given the current knowledge that the Kindle Fire will be running a highly modified forking of Android 2.1. While there have been a couple hiccups along the way, in general the Amazon App Store seems to offer a superior experience to the official Google alternative.
Similar strides have been made in setting up the video distribution options. In recent months Amazon Instant Video has gone from a joke that provided a bit of extra incentive for Amazon Prime adopters to a respectable video library. Recently they have even signed agreements allowing them to offer movies and television shows held by companies including CBS and Fox, bringing the title count up to tens of thousands. The Kindle Fire is clearly going to be pushing these services, and should have integrated access to the relevant store built right into the user experience.
Naturally there will also be the option for users to access both Kindle Edition eBooks. This is not meant to be considered an eReader, however, and the experience is likely to be inferior in some ways to that of the existing Kindle eReader line. The same is true in a general sense of the music playback capabilities. While Amazon obviously offers the Kindle Cloud Player, which has comparable functionality to most any similar product on the market, a Tablet is just not the perfect playback device. Doesn’t mean you can’t do it, of course, just that purpose-made devices will offer superior experiences in these areas.
Overall, the Kindle Fire is likely to impress. Its 7″ back-lit screen is slightly small compared to the iPad, but will meet customer needs in general and lends to a lower price point. The processor seems to be a dual-core 1.2GHz TI product that will lend the device as much processing power as any comparable tablet on the market today. Even the operating system, which at first glance would seem to be a slight disadvantage since it is based off of an older version of Android, is reported to have been optimized to the point of a smooth, seamless, and generally superior experience for the user.
Expect to be seeing the first of these tablets ship out in the second week of November, if reports are to be believed. While it has not been announced for certain yet and will not be before the press conference, it is expected that pre-orders will be taken beginning almost immediately and that they will be priced well under $300. Possibly as low as $250, with the potential for a great deal of promotional pack-ins for early adopters. Keep an eye out for more details!