Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos did the Steve Jobs dance today (about a week after Mark Zuckerberg) to announce the release of the next generation of devices that will change how we read, or at least how we waste time. There will be Angry Birds! That's because, in contrast to the days when Kindles were for "a different audience" than the iPad — "people who want to read” — the new Kindle Fire tablet, revealed today, is a colorful, cheap little computer. It's also less than half of the price of an iPad. Amazon hopes to make up the money by selling movies, music, and apps, but book-lovers fear not.
Amazon also announced a Kindle Touch, which comes in color for $99, and a regular Kindle that at $79 is basically the price of a hardcover novel. (Or a set of encyclopedias; remember those?) And for those who find words boring, let there be streaming:
Possibly the biggest loser today is not Apple, but Netflix. Just as its customers are outraged at higher pricing of Netflix streaming (and furious that the DVD business has been offloaded to a new subsidiary), here’s Amazon offering a nifty device with an even better price: $79 a year. ... If Amazon builds up the inventory — and it certainly has the bucks and the clout to do this — it will be the logical place for disaffected Netflixsters to land after storming out of Reed Hastings’ house in a huff.
By leaving Apple the fancy hardware (GPS, camera, 3G), and therefore the high-end market, Amazon chooses instead to seriously undercut the Android tablet business, as well as the pricey Nook reader from Barnes and Noble, which saw its stock price drop during the Amazon announcement. The phrase "iPad killer" might be an overstatement, but now the Kindle is at least armed.