Amazon fired a shot across Apple's bow on Thursday by releasing a version of its Kindle Fire that's almost the same size as the iPad, but $200 cheaper than the basic model.
The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD is just one of a large range of devices -- four tablets and an e-reader -- unveiled by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos at an event in Los Angeles Thursday afternoon, most of them priced to sell.
A 7-inch version of the Kindle Fire HD, the successor to Amazon's initial entry last year in the tablet market, costs just $199 and will be available on Sept. 14. Its larger brother will cost $299 but consumers will have to wait until November. A deluxe Fire with 4G , long-term evolution data speed runs $499, the same as Apple's 16-gigabyte iPad, but comes with 32 gigs of storage . The Kindle Fires are also equipped with front-facing cameras, like the iPad, for video chatting.
Amazon will offer a $50-per-year plan for 250 megabytes of 4G data per month, with a bonus of 20 gigabytes of cloud storage and a $10 credit for apps.
The basic model of the Kindle Fire will be available for just $159.
All About the Services
"We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices,"
said Bezos, wearing a dark suit and white shirt sans tie, as he personally demonstrated the devices. The event was live-blogged and tweeted by many media sources. "People don't want gadgets anymore. They want services. They want services that improve over time."
Amazon's strategy is to use hardware devices as a portal to its Kindle library and self-publishing system and Prime movie streaming service as well as other goods and services it sells, rather than making a large profit from the device sales themselves.
The new e-reader is the Kindle Paperwhite, a feature-packed device with an unfortunate name: Some wags are already calling it the Paperweight.
The Paperwhite, with a front-lit E-ink XGA display -- capable of legible reading in sunlight -- and a promised eight weeks of battery life will be available Oct. 1 for $119, or $179 for a version that is 3G capable. The basic Kindle will still be available, at the reduced price of $69. (continued...)