After months of speculation, it’s here: Amazon’s tablet, the $199 Kindle Fire, was unveiled Wednesday.
Smaller and cheaper than Apple’s dominant iPad, the Kindle Fire has a 7-inch display and runs on a heavily customized version of Google’s Android operating system. The tablet offers Wi-Fi connectivity, but no 3G or other cellular connection. It also lacks a camera and microphone, two features found in most rival tablets.
But the Kindle Fire isn’t trying to be an all-in-one computing device. Amazon’s focus is on media consumption, like reading books and magazines as well as watching video and streaming music. The tablet includes a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime, the company’s $79-a-year service that includes two-day shipping and some free streaming video access.
Priced at less than half the $499 starting price of an iPad, the Kindle Fire aims to undercut Apple’s wildly popular tablet, which has sold 28 million units since its 2010 debut. The iPad’s momentum is picking up: Apple sold a record 9.3 million iPads in its latest quarter.
Amazon will begin taking Kindle Fire orders on Wednesday, and will start shipping the device on November 15. At $199, the device will be slightly cheaper than Barnes & Noble’s similar Nook Color, a $249 tablet that made its debut 11 months ago.
“We’re making millions of these,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told the audience at a New York City press conference.
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