Amazon rolled out new Kindle Fire tablets on Wednesday -- and claimed both are enterprise-ready. The Kindle Fire HD and HDX models offer device encryption and several other key features that could turn heads in the IT department.
Kindle Fire HDX offers a 7-inch or 8.9-inch HDX display, quad-core 2.2 GHz processor with three times the processing power, twice the memory, 11 hours of battery life, and dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus audio. It weighs 34 percent less than the previous generation and includes a Mayday Button for free on-device tech support. The 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX is $229. The 8.9-inch is $379.
The Kindle Fire HD offers a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor, dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus audio, and a new slimmer design -- and it is 60 percent faster than the previous generation. Both Kindles sport the latest version of Fire OS -- Fire OS 3.0 "Mojito." The new OS comes with hundreds of new and upgraded features, platform updates, and Amazon-exclusive services. The Fire HD is $139.
All three devices will begin shipping later this year. But will Amazon hit its enterprise target?
Equipped for the Enterprise
"Kindle Fire is already the second most popular tablet at work in the U.S.," said Raghu Murthi, vice president of Enterprise and Education, Amazon. "As employees increasingly bring their own devices to work, the new Kindle Fire tablets can be easily integrated into the workplace with the new enterprise features, including encryption, secure Wi-Fi, a native VPN client, integration with leading MDM solutions, and Kerberos support for Intranet access."
Amazon outlined a laundry list of features that make the new Kindle Fire enterprise-ready, including email that promises to makes it even easier for business customers to set up their accounts, group conversations by subject, and sync their e-mails. You can also print documents and emails directly from Kindle Fire to a wireless printer.
The next-generation Kindle Fire also sports built-in OfficeSuite to read documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. And a native SCEP (Simple Certificate Exchange Protocol) client retrieves digital certificates for secure resources. There are also Kindle-specific device management APIs that integrate with existing mobile device management (MDM) systems to make it easy for IT departments to manage Kindle Fire. Kindle Fire supports a range of MDM solutions including Amazon's Whispercast service as well as third-party vendors like AirWatch, Citrix, Fiberlink, Good Technology, and SOTI.
Still a Consumer-Oriented Tablet
We asked Avi Greengart, a principal analyst at Current Analysis, for his take on the enterprise-readiness of the new Kindle Fire tablets. He told us it's an interesting strategy, considering that Amazon sells relatively premium tablets at a low cost designed to encourage content purchases on its e-commerce platform.
"The Kindle is basically an electronic vending machine," Greengart said. "That's all good for consumers but I am stumped as to why Amazon thinks enterprises would want to give vending machines to its employees."
Greengart noted that the Kindle Fire user interface is consumption-centric. In other words, when you boot up the tablet it's designed to show you your content -- but that's not necessary the first thing an IT manager wants to present to staff.
"When Samsung says its tablets are safe and that's their brand for enterprise-level, that makes a lot of sense. When I hear Apple talk about how the iPad is being used in business that makes a tremendous amount of sense," Greengart said. "So I see why Amazon is looking at the opportunity but I'm not sure it's the best fit."