Kindle Fire Joins Mobile TV Tablet Party

With all the Android tablets out, it is surprising that one has not risen to the top to challenge the current king, the Apple iPad. That could change this week as Amazon launches the Kindle Fire to the masses. Although some tablets are geared toward the tech crowd, the Kindle Fire, like the iPad, is aimed squarely at the everyday consumer. The fact that it is readily available on the front page of the world’s largest online shopping store could give Amazon a very bright holiday season.

To call the unit an Android tablet is probably misdescribing it. Amazon has created its own interface, and while the backbone may be Android, its goal is to make it easy to use and appealing. Mobile TV watching is one key ingredient; the unit starts with a high-quality 7-inch color touch screen for viewing video content on the go. Amazon offers 100,000 movies and TV shows available to rent or purchase, with 10,000 via streaming as part of its Amazon Prime pay service. Netflix, HuluPlus and other video options are onboard so there will be no shortage of video viewing options. Of course there are books, lots and lots of books, currently more than 1 million. But there are also digital magazines, apps, games, mp3 playback, web browsing, free cloud storage, email and much more.

The unit will slide into an area in between mobile and tablets — it is bigger than the largest large-screen phone, but smaller than the current range of full-size tablets. The most compelling element is the price, which at $199 is a pivotal price point. Amazon once again, as it did with the original Kindle, is taking a hit with profitability and choosing to spur adoption via a low price point. One thing is for sure, video viewing on tablets is sure to jump up again in the coming year, as the very portable Amazon Kindle wedges into an already crowded market, and a very important holiday buying season.