A huge new player stepped into the tablet space this morning to challenge the completely dominant reign of Apple’s iPad. Bloomberg had the scoop before the 200-some live bloggers in Hell’s Kitchen could even get started. The device is smaller, seven inches versus ten, and costs just $199 versus the iPad’s $499 price tag.
The Kindle Fire, as Amazon’s tablet device is called, is missing a lot of things. It doesn’t have a camera or microphone, so no Facetime communication is possible. It is WiFi only, which, having used the iPad with AT&T 3G for several months now, we believe is a huge drawback. 3G service makes the tablet a truly mobile device.
Under the hood the device is running a custom version of Android. It comes with a 30 free trial of Amazon’s streaming service, Amazon Prime. We assume that the integration between the device and Amazon Prime was a particular focus.
Companies like RIM and HP that tried to challenge Apple in the tablet space have so far come up laughably short. Amazon’s massive reach and consumer base could allow it to get the kind of distribution it needs to be the first serious contender, especially at such a low price point. Even if the iPad controls the top of the market, Amazon could grab up massive market share as tablet computers become as common as smartphones.
Oh, and let’s not forget Amazon Prime gives folks free two day shipping on all Amazon purchases. While the technorati may scoff, the average consumer could probably find a lot to like about the Kindle Fire. That and it will be running Android, which will give the many, many Droid fans and Google Apps users out there a tablet that is easier to sync with their lives.
Wait, you didn’t think Papa Bezos forgot about the upcoming holiday did you? Along with the Kindle Fire he also announced a $79 Kindle and a $99 Kindle touch. Something for everyone!
Follow Ben Popper via RSS.