It was an Apple-style event that Amazon held today, with CEO Jeff Bezos announcing the arrival of four new devices, including the rumored Amazon Fire tablet and drastic reductions in price, as well as major refreshes for the company's line of Kindle eReaders.
Bezos unveiled the Kindle Touch ($99), an updated non-touch Kindle ($79), a new Kindle 3G ($149) and the star of the show, the Amazon Fire ($199), which does not have a cellular connection.
If it was an Apple-style event, Amazon, which said it would never compete directly with Apple, just did so with the launch of the $199 Amazon Fire tablet and all of its many mature content services in accompaniment. The Fire ships Nov. 15, but Bezos recommends consumers get their pre-orders in today.
While the new low-cost Kindle entrants are sure to shake up the eReader market, the Kindle Fire could put a major dent in Apple's iPad sales. The Fire is a 7-inch dual-core Wi-Fi tablet (no camera or 3G) that looks remarkably like the QNX-based BlackBerry Playbook. Bezos demoed the tablet running Android Apps from the Amazon App Store for Android.
According to the specs, the Fire will come with 8 GB internal storage, or enough for 80 apps, plus either 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books.
The Fire also features Amazon Silk, a new browser that can render pages either locally on the device or on Amazon's cloud, which Bezos says will lead to faster performance.
Perhaps most importantly, however, the Kindle Fire features deep integration with all of Amazon's content services (apps, movies, music, cloud storage, eBookes, magazines, billing system).
"The question is: Why is Kindle working? Why is this working? I believe it's because Kindle is an end-to-end service," Bezos said, according to a live blog of today's event posted on Engadget.com. "And I believe it is because we have been inventing and improving that service at a rapid pace for the last four years."
Those past four years have put into place for Amazon all of the things that recently released Android tablets have been missing, namely a seamless end-to-end experience the likes of which until now has only been seen from Apple.