Move over, Google. Amazon wants a piece of the tablet market again, too. After Google essentially copied Amazon’s Kindle Fire concept, the company is ready to take the market by storm with a supped up, second generation device. Despite these rumors, can Amazon maintain dominance in the budget tablet space?
According to a report from CNET, analysts from NPD claim Amazon will unveil three new Kindle Fire models before year’s end. Richard Shim, an analyst at NPD DisplaySearch says the company is readying several new 7-inch models for August production, including a budget 7-inch Fire with a 1024 x 600 display and no camera and a supped up Fire 2 with a 1280 x 800 display and camera.
Furthermore, Shim says Amazon has a 4G Kindle Fire in the works for September production and an 8.9-inch Kindle Fire with a 1920 x 1200 display that will launch in time for the holidays. It is expected that the new Fires will feature a quad-core Tegra3 or dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP processor.
Pricing; however, remains unknown. But critics claim Amazon must keep the pricing competitive, given Google set the benchmark relatively high with the Nexus 7. The budget Kindle Fire must be less than $199 for it to sell.
The Budget Tablet Landscape is Vastly Different Now
Unlike in November 2011, times are much different. There are a plethora of powerful, inexpensive tablets out there, including the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet and Google’s Nexus 7 device. Not to mention other less popular models, such as the Acer Iconia A200, Lenovo ‘s 7-inch tablet, and the Dell Streak 7.
Furthermore, another hurdle for Amazon, everyone who wanted a Kindle Fire already has a Kindle Fire. While I can’t say there isn’t demand, analysts claim consumer demand for the device has decreased sharply since the initial holiday boom in December 2011.
The Fire, for what it’s worth, was a fundamentally market-changing device at its time. Unfortunately, the glory has passed and it’s a crippled tablet – or at best – an underpowered eReader compared to the competition. From a cost-benefit perspective, consumers are downright foolish if they ordered a Kindle Fire since the Nexus 7 announcement.
Hold the Phone!
In addition to building new tablets, sources familiar with the company’s plans told Bloomberg that they are readying a smartphone to compete with Apple’s iPhone. Reports claim Foxconn, the same manufacturer who builds iPhones, is working on the device.
Amazon’s plans to sell a smartphone aren’t completely insane, given the company’s move towards an integrated hardware, software experience. If it sounds familiar, it should. It’s the same approach Apple uses with their iPhones, which are seamlessly integrated with their iTunes store.
Unfortunately, Bezos and team face an uphill battle if they choose to pursue the device after all. Smartphone patent wars are at an all-time high... you could just about guarantee& Co. will be filing a lawsuit the minute these rumors are confirmed.
Unlike Apple, Amazon would take the same approach with their smartphone as they did their tablet: create a high-quality device and sell it with either razor thin margins or at a loss. It remains to be seen how Amazon’s pricing strategy plays out amidst the oversaturated market.
Is There Room?
Given the recent events and new product launches since the Kindle Fire came out, is there room for Amazon to hit it out of the park like they did in December? Would a Kindle Fire 2 be as attractive as the original tablet was in December? Since Google beat them to the punch, probably not. A new Fire is essential for the company to maintain competitiveness, but it’s a case of too little, too late.