Amazon announced this morning four new Kindle products: Kindle Fire, Kindle Touch 3G, Kindle Touch and Kindle. The latter three are your average e-ink readers with six-inch screens, but they’re a little more sleek than previous Kindle models. They’re made with magnesium and soft-touch plastics, so they feel sleek. Amazon kept pushing its “premium products at non-premium prices” tagline today, and that’s exactly what these three e-Readers are. The Kindle Fire is a pretty great Android tablet, skinned to the bone with Amazon’s UI and services, but has the performance of just about any other Android tablet out there.
What makes any or all of these products significant? Well, it goes back to that tagline: premium products at non-premium prices. The Kindle starts at $79, and the Kindle Touch and Touch 3G are $99 and $149, respectively. That brilliant Kindle Fire? $199. At these prices, impulse buying has never been easier. But it isn’t just the great pricing, and therefore easier buying decisions, that matters here. Amazon might be changing the way buyers and manufacturers view the importance of hardware versus software.
While the Kindle Fire, for example, is a great deal for what you get at just $199, it might also lock you into the Amazon ecosystem. You’ll likely keep up an Amazon Prime account to take advantage of the video content for your device. And if you do have a Prime account, might as well take advantage of it and do more shopping on Amazon, too, right? Apps, content, books and everything you could possibly want on your device will have to come from Amazon.
It’s like buying a video game console and buying all the games for it. Amazon has given us the console at prices that wouldn’t cause us to blink, but if we truly want to get the most, or arguably anything, out of it, we have to buy the game discs or cartridges, if you will. What Amazon did with the Kindle Fire, pricing it at $199, is brilliant.
So now we have to ask ourselves how much hardware matters. The Kindle Fire isn’t perfect. There are no cameras on it and no microphone, so you can’t make video calls, shoot video or take portraits with it. But for everything else you’re getting, at the price you’re getting it for, are those sacrifices you’d be willing to make? Also, Amazon will be curating the apps you can and can’t use on the Kindle Fire, which means you won’t have access to the tens of thousands of Android apps on the Android Market.
It has its downsides, but Amazon’s strategy here – getting you to buy the window into their ecosystem – is pretty brilliant. And with the holidays coming right up after the tablet begins to ship, I can picture this being a huge success to Amazon’s bottom line.
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