Thursday, September 29, 2011

Amazon launches Kindle Fire

The Sydney Morning Herald reports: [edited]

With a glossy 7-inch colour touch screen and a dual-core processor, the Kindle Fire, a new mobile device introduced by Amazon, sure looks like a tablet, and one not so different from the Apple iPad.

But Jeffrey Bezos, Amazon's founder and chief executive, has another word for it. "I think of it as a service," he said in an interview on Wednesday after the launch. "Part of the Kindle Fire is of course the hardware, but really, it's the software, the content; it's the seamless integration of those things."

Amazon is counting on the its online warehouse of more than 18 million e-books, songs, movies and television shows, as well as access to a selection of Android applications, to help it beat competitors like the iPad and the Nook from the bookstore chain Barnes & Noble.

The other advantage Bezos is counting on is price: The Fire will sell for $199, while the cheapest iPad sells for $499. Amazon began taking orders for the Fire on its website on Wednesday; it will start shipping them November 15, but only to customers in the United States.

Amazon custom-built the Fire's mobile web browser, called Amazon Silk, so that it loads media-rich web pages faster by shifting some of the work onto Amazon's cloud computing engine, called EC2.

The Kindle Fire's 8GB of memory is capable of storing 80 apps and either 10 movies, 800 songs or 6000 books. The tablet also includes a free cloud-based storage system, meaning that no syncing with cables is necessary.

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