I’m in a distant corner of western Manhattan waiting for Amazon to unveil something.
Taking a leaf (or pip perhaps) from the Apple playbook, the company has sent an invite saying that we all expect to be the unveiling of a new tablet device called Kindle Fire.
There are hundreds of journalists here. Not since Moses descended from Mount Sinai has a tablet been so hotly anticipated. Well, maybe not. Apple’s iPad is way more significant than the ten commandments.
Apple now has 70% of the tablet market. So Amazon has a lot to prove. While I wait in line to get in, here’s the preview I wrote yesterday.
The press are filing in. Sadly I think there are too many of us for everyone to get a freebie. Here’s some pre-match comment from professor Ajay Bhalla from Cass Business School. He doesn’t think it will rival the iPad. “At this stage, it is incorrect to assume that Amazon tablet will be a true rival to Apple iPad.” He says Apple’s ecosystem is hard to imitate for rivals. Transferring their stuff between Apple devices is seamless.
Apple has moved fast to replicate the same user experience across Mac and iOS devices. Can Amazon do what Apple has done? Has it got the focus Apple has?
We are sitting in Stage 37 – a warehouse on the west end of 37th Street in Manhattan. It’s a capacity crowd. And we are off. “New York City Two years Ago” reads the first slide, introducing an ad about the Kindle.
Bloomberg is reporting that the Kindle Fire will cost $199. I guess we are just about to find out.
According to Bloomberg, the Kindle Fire will have a seven-inch display – half the size of the iPad. Priced at $199, it’s half the price of the cheapest iPad, which retails at $499, and will run on Google’s Android operating system.
Bloomberg reported that Amazon shares rose $8.59, or 3.8 percent, to $232.80 at 9:47am on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Apple rose $3.46 to $402.72
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is showing slides of all the negative comments that Kindle received. The sales charts show otherwise, he says. “Four years ago we stated with 90,000 books today it’s a million,” he says. “You can choose any of these books and have them in 60 seconds wirelessly.”
This all looks like a pitch for how the new device will get better over time, to defuse criticism that it’s an underpowered iPad.
Bezos unveils the Kindle Touch. It’s a very stripped-down looking e-reader. Now I see why he was managing expectations. It fits in the palm of his skinny hand – just. It looks like a Kindle, and has a touch screen. It’s black and white.
I’m wondering if Bezos is about to do a Steve Jobs and pull out something a bit fancier in a minute.
Bezos is reading Remains of The Day to us. I feel a bit sleepy.
Kindle Touch will be priced at $99. Electronic ink, touch screen, free storage in Amazon cloud. Not bad. And now the big reveal. Kindle Touch 3G. That’s $149.
Well that wasn’t a big reveal – was it? Is there more?
Yes there’s more! A $79 Kindle. No touch screen, but weighing 6oz. Those things are going to sell.
Hmmmm. I think we are feeling a bit mis-sold. Yes, Amazon is going to sell boat loads of the new Kindles but it’s not an iPad killer is it?
But wait, there’s more. Bozos is outlining all Amazon’s online media assets. The cloud player where you can access all your music and films, Amazon Prime that offers cheap shipping and access to streaming video. This all feels like a build-up to something.
So, so far, we have a non-touch $79 Kindle, a touch-screen $99 Kindle, and a 3G Kindle Touch at $149. The pre-briefing suggests the Fire, which Bezos has not yet revealed, will be $199.
Our technology reporter Josh Halliday has this instant analysis:
At $199 (or £127), Amazon has undercut all of the high-end players in the growing tablet market, including Apple, Research in Motion, Samsung and HP.
With the pricing of its new Kindle family, Amazon has bullishly established that it will continue to dominate the e-reader market for some time to come. You can hear the Waterstones reverse ferret from here.
At $79, the cheapest Kindle is almost a commodity item. At $99, the touchscreen Kindle – dubbed Kindle Touch, appropriately – is ripe for Christmas stockings. Amazon’s Kindle Fire, at least from the pre-brief, sounds underwhelming, with no camera or 3G. But let’s see what Bezos has up his sleeve.
So, after all that teasing, here it is: Bezos is announcing the Kindle Fire. It has a 7in colour screen, and will weigh 14.6oz. It has the capacity for 100,000 movies, 17m songs, and magazines. It looks very cute.
Bezos is having a little dig at Apple. There’s no need for all that annoying synching. The Kindle Fire will do it all via whispersync, a wireless service.
There were some giggles and ooohs from the crowd. The tease worked. Bezos has clearly been studying the Steve Jobs style. He even has mum jeans on. Although thankfully he has chosen not to don the black turtleneck.
Here’s more from Josh Halliday.
Unless Bezos goes on to say otherwise, the Kindle Fire looks like it will be US only for the time being. It appears intrinsically tied with Amazon cloud player, which hasn’t yet launched outside the US for legal reasons. The launch of the first Kindle was US-only too, so this wouldn’t be wholly extraordinary.
So far we’ve watched X-Men, played more Adele and now Jeff’s chopping fruit in the Fruit Ninja game.
“I still have more for you,” says Bezos. He’s showing Amazon’s web page. “It’s difficult, challenging for mobile devices to show modern webpages rapidly.”
The solution: Amazon Silk. It’s a new browser designed for the era of mobile devices. Golly. This really is turning into an Amazon v Apple event.
So far we’ve had three new cheap Kindles, a new Kindle Fire iPad rival and now a web browser!
Bezos seems to be wrapping up. How much is it going to cost? $199, as expected. “It’s unbelievable value,” he says.
The Kindle Fire ships November 15. “But I still suggest you pre-order today,” says Bezos. He thanks everyone for coming. And it’s over.
Golly. That Bezos can sell! The mood is far more upbeat now.
Here’s Josh Halliday on the stock market view.
Wall Street has reacted – and Barnes & Noble is predictably taking quite a hit. Its stock fell as much as 9% as Bezos was unveiling the new range of cut-price Kindles, which bear an uncanny resemblance to the Nook, rival e-reader from B&N. There’s since s have since rallied to a fall of 7%, at $12.25 apiece. Amazon is up a modest 3.5%.
There’s some debate in the comments about the price points. NellieIrrelevant says:
Those prices are misleading though – they are for ad-supported versions. The ones free of spam cost more. Heck with that – I don’t care how classy Amazon’s ads are…
A UK-based reader, iainl adds:
And now there’s the rub. The Kindle Touch isn’t $99 after all; that’s just the price for the “with offers” (read: spams advertising) version that they won’t release in the UK and I wouldn’t want anyway. The one without adverts is $139, the same price as the current-gen Kindle, so we’ll still be charged £111 over here.
The price is striking – in the UK it ships at £89. But here in the US, it’s $79 – equivalent to around £50 at today’s exchange rate. A startling example of rip-off Britain?
Josh Halliday has just been speaking to an Amazon spokesman, who confirms that neither the Kindle Touch nor the Kindle Fire will be available in the UK. They are US-only, for now.
As I said earlier, the reason why the Fire can’t be released outside the US is because it’s hooked up to Amazon Cloud, which isn’t available outside the US for legal reasons.
As for the Touch, that’s probably to do with the Whispersync wifi synching service.
So, what have we learned? First of all, Jeff Bezos is a massive tease. After a lot of foreplay with new Kindles, the Amazon boss revealed a full-on rival to the iPad, the Kindle Fire. It’s going to cost $199 and ship in the US on November 15 and will no doubt sell out on the first day giving Amazon another pre-Christmas PR jolt.
We also got a new range of Kindles with touch screens and a super-cheap one with a regular screen priced at $79 in the US for an ad-supported version. In the UK, this retails at £89, but this is for an ad-free version that will cost $109 in the US. This basic new Kindle will most likely be the only product featured at today’s launch to go on sale in the UK, at least in the near future.
But perhaps the biggest news of all is that Amazon has declared war on Apple. It was already the biggest competitor to Apple’s iTunes. Now it has a rival to Apple’s best-selling iPad and it’s even going into the browser business, launching a new web browser tailored to mobile devices. As Bezos said:
We asked ourselves: ‘Is there some way we can bring all of these things together [web service, Prime, Kindle, instant video and the app store] into a remarkable product offering customers would love?’ Yes, the answer is Amazon Kindle Fire.
There’ll be more analysis later but that’s it for the live blog for now. Thanks for all the comments.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
Seit 1996 bin ich freier Mitarbeiter der Salzgitter-Zeitung, als Experte für das Geschehen im hiesigen Kreisfußball. Daneben sind meine Kolumnen seit 2005 fester Bestandteil im Lokalteil der Salzgitter-Zeitung. Zusammen mit Frau und Tochter sowie zwei gefräßigen wie faulen Stubentigern versuche ich das zu meistern, was das Leben, das Universum und der ganze Rest an Absurditäten für uns bereithalten.