OK, it’s here. The long-anticipated Kindle Fire was announced today at a tempting price point of $199. Though apparently powered by Android, it’s a not-exactly-Android tablet that’s attempting to do exactly what Apple did: Create a closed ecosystem that gives users everything they want in an esthetically attractive format so easy-to-use it’s nearly brainless. And at this price, it’s a pretty tempting proposition. Here’s a quick look at how the Kindle Fire stacks up:
- Size: 7-inch screen. This is a game-over factor for me. I can’t easily throw a 10-inch device, no matter how light into my handbag and that’s kept me from even considering an iPad. Steve Jobs reputedly refuses to make a 7-inch device so Amazon stepped right into that void. And it’s 14.6 ounces, about six ounces lighter than the iPad 2.
- Connectivity: WiFi only, so far. Perhaps pricier models with 4G or 3G/4G are on their way?
- Camera: Nope, there ain’t none. (What did you expect for less than $200?)
- Storage: Here’s where things get interesting. The Kindle Fire has only 8 gigs on board and no expansion slot for adding more. Storage, shmorage, says Amazon. You can use our cloud for free.
- Movies and music: Here the plot thickens even more. Rather than providing access to Netflix, which has been slow about bringing Android devices into the fold due to copyright issues, Amazon gives you access to its own impressive library of movies and TV shows to “rent” (i.e. watch once) or buy. At the same time, it just happens to have expanded the free videos available with Amazon Prime, and is offering a free month to get you started.
It’s amazing in retrospect to see how many apparently unrelated Amazon offerings–movies, cloud, MP3s, and Appstore for Android–suddenly come together to power the Kindle Fire. It almost makes me suspect them of having had a long-range strategy all along.