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Category: Kindle

Amazon's Kindle Fire set to take No. 2 spot in tablet market

Kindlefire emile wamsteker bloomberg

It's been a mere two weeks since its much-hyped launch, and Amazon's Kindle Fire has already shaken up the competitive tablet market. The 7-inch device is expected to surpass all other iPad rivals to take second place in the global media tablet business in the fourth quarter, according to information and analysis provider IHS.

The e-commerce giant will ship 3.9 million Kindle Fire tablets during the last three months of the year, IHS said, giving Amazon a 13.8% share of global media tablet shipments. That exceeds the 4.8% held by No. 3 Samsung. 

Of course, the Kindle Fire still lags well behind the No. 1 tablet, Apple's iPad 2, which holds a 65.6% share of the market. 

IHS said the Kindle Fire's "rapid ascent will help fuel the expansion of the entire market," with the additional shipments adding a 7.7% increase to the firm's forecast of total media tablet shipments this year.

"Nearly two years after Apple Inc. rolled out the iPad, a competitor has finally developed an alternative which looks like it might have enough of Apple's secret sauce to succeed," Rhoda Alexander, senior manager of tablet and monitor research for IHS, said in a statement. "The production plans make it clear that Amazon is betting big on the product."

IHS now predicts that global media tablet market shipments will total 64.7 million units in 2011, compared with the previous forecast issued in August of 60 million. The total shipment level represents 273% growth from 17.4 million units last year.

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Amazon Kindle Fire review [video]

-- Andrea Chang

Twitter.com/byandreachang

Photo: Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet. Credit: Emile Wamsteker / Bloomberg

Amazon: Kindle Black Friday sales quadruple; Kindle Fire tops sales

Amazon Kindle Fire (left) and the Apple iPad 2

Amazon.com said Monday that sales of it Kindle device lineup on Black Friday quadrupled the number sold on the day-after-Thanksgiving last year.

But just how many Kindle eReaders and tablets were sold? Amazon, again isn't saying, falling in line with the online retail giant's practice of not releasing specific numbers for its Kindle sales.

Since the first Kindle eReader was launched in 2007, Amazon has yet to release any specific sales numbers, only ever saying that the Kindle has sold millions.

Likewise, Barnes & Noble has made it a practice of never sharing its specific sale numbers for its eReader or tablet sales thus far. However, the company does say its Nook Color tablet is currently the top-selling Android tablet on the market.

Apple, whose iPad is the top seller in the tablet market, does release its sales figures for top-selling items. Last quarter, Apple said it sold 11.1 million iPads, up 166% from a year earlier. Since the iPad first launched in 2010, Apple has said it has sold more than 39 million tablets.

Amazon, based in Seattle, has been projected to sell between 3 million and 5 million Kindle Fire tablets before the year is done.

The Fire was Amazon's "best-selling product across all of Amazon.com on Black Friday," even outselling the Kindle eReaders that range in price from $79 to $189, the company said in a statement.

"Even before the busy holiday shopping weekend, we'd already sold millions of the new Kindle family and Kindle Fire was the best-selling product across all of Amazon.com," said Dave Limp, the vice president of Amazon's Kindle division, in the statement. "Black Friday was the best ever for the Kindle family -- customers purchased 4X as many Kindle devices as they did last Black Friday -- and last year was a great year.”

The Kindle Fire was also the top-selling tablet in-store at Target on Black Friday, Nik Nayar, the retail chain's vice president of merchandising, said in the statement.

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Amazon Kindle Fire review [Video]

Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet review [Video]

Amazon's $199 Kindle Fire costs $201.70 to build, report says

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Amazon's Kindle Fire, left, and an Apple iPad 2. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times

Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet review [Video]

If you're looking for a low-priced tablet this year, Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet is one you'll want to consider.

At $249, the Nook Tablet is a bit more expensive than the Amazon Kindle Fire, the Nook Color and the Kobo Vox, each of which are selling at about $200. But, the Nook Tablet is a better piece of hardware than its $200 rivals and the extra dough wouldn't be spent in vain.

On the outside, the Nook Tablet looks identical to the Nook Color, except that the Tablet comes in a lighter color than the Color's dark charcoal gray.

Kindle Fire and Nook TabletThe 7-inch screen, with a 1024-by-600 resolution, on the Nook Tablet is also the exact same display as the touchscreen used in the Nook Color. And the Nook Tablet is also slightly lighter than the Nook Color, weighing in at 14.1 ounces instead of 15.8, though most may not even notice.

Where the difference between the Nook Tablet and its rivals can be found is on the inside and in using the device day to day. The Nook Tablet features a 1-gigahertz processor (same as the Kindle Fire), 1 gigabyte of RAM (as opposed to the Color and Fire's 512 megabytes of RAM) and 16 gigabytes of built-in storage (the Color and the Fire each have 8 gigabytes built in).

In use -- reading books, streaming movies, launching apps, sending and receiving email -- nearly everything I did on the Nook Tablet was quicker than when I did the same things on the $200 tablets. Simple functions such as rotating the screen from portrait to landscape orientation in an app was faster and turning pages in e-books felt less laggy too.

Screen Shot 2011-11-26 at 11.03.14 AMBoth the Barnes & Noble and Amazon devices run highly modified versions of Google's Android Honeycomb operating system and as such, both run Android apps. Barnes & Noble's Nook Store for apps offers fewer apps than the Kindle Fire's Amazon Appstore for Android, but I had a much harder time finding apps that felt like stretched out smartphone apps on the Nook -- that's a plus in my opinion. I'd rather have a smaller selection of apps that work well than a larger selection of apps that may or may not work as the developer intended them to.

There's also something to be said for the Nook Tablet and Nook Color's style. The two share the same external design, but both look noticeably different than what else is out there in lower and higher price points. The plastics used on the Barnes & Noble devices have a slight softness to them that make the device comfortable to hold for long periods of time when reading or watching a movie. The display is one of the nicest I've seen in 7-inch devices. Books, apps, video, websites all looked great on the Nook Tablet (just as they did on the Nook Color) and didn't kick back as much glare as I found on the Kindle Fire.

Screen Shot 2011-11-26 at 11.00.28 AMThe one weak point I can point to on the hardware of the Nook Tablet is that the 16 gigabytes of built-in storage reserves 15 gigabytes of that space for content purchased from Barnes & Noble and downloaded to the device. Only 1 gigabyte is made available for content you buy from outside of the bookstore chain and that just isn't enough.

The Nook Color takes the same approach, setting aside 7 gigabytes of the 8 gigabytes included for items purchased from Barnes & Noble.

Unlike the Kindle Fire, the Nooks include a microSD card slot, so you can expand storage if you'd like. But the problem here is that Barnes & Noble has no online storefront for music, movies or TV shows as Amazon does.

Continue reading »

Amazon Kindle Fire: Rumors say 8.9-inch, 10-inch models planned

  

The Amazon Kindle Fire tablet has been on the market for about a week and rumors about the next Fire are already persistent.

The latest rumor: The next Kindle Fire will have an 8.9-inch screen, to be followed by a 10.1-inch model.

Of course, this is all rumor, but hearing rumors this early in a product's life isn't uncommon with gadgets such as this. The Fire on sale now, for example, was rumored for months before Amazon officially announced its first tablet.

The Taiwanese website DigiTimes is among the latest to report the next-generation Kindle rumors, stating that Foxconn Electronics -- one of Apple's major manufacturing partners -- will help build a 7-inch model to replace the current first-generation Fire. It said the new model could "start production in the first quarter of 2012."

The website also said that its unnamed sources say that Amazon is working on new tablets in 10.1-inch and 8.9-inch screen sizes, with the smaller of the two planned for release in the "second quarter of 2012."

The rumors seem a bit premature given that Amazon just released the Fire, so we may want to take all of the above with a grain of salt. But the amount of hype and interest generated by the Fire is somewhat similar to that for Apple's iPad and iPhone, which also have spawned rumors about their next generations as current models are introduced.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Twitter.com/nateog

Video: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times

Amazon Kindle Fire review [Video]

The Amazon Kindle Fire can't be judged on its hardware alone, and that works out in the Fire's favor, because the hardware is far from great and left me underwhelmed.

However, all the things you can do with the Fire, the cloud-based services that Amazon provides and the massive offering of e-books, music, movies, TV shows and apps that the Seattle online retail giant offers in its first tablet is currently matched only by Apple's iPad, iTunes and App Store.

This combination of lackluster hardware with top-notch content and cloud services put the Fire in the peculiar spot of changing the definition of what a low-price tablet can and should be, while still leaving me unfulfilled and waiting for the Kindle Fire 2.

If the Fire turns out to be the blockbuster seller that many are predicting it will be, it won't because of design or hardware features.

No, if the Fire is a hit, it will be because it sells for $199, wears the trusted Amazon Kindle brand and serves as a direct and easy-to-use pipeline into Amazon's online storefronts of digital content.

Continue reading »

Amazon's $199 Kindle Fire costs $201.70 to build, report says

Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon is taking a loss on each $199 Kindle Fire it sells, according to a new report from the research firm IHS iSuppli that pegs the total cost to make each tablet at $201.70.

The Seattle-based retailer, which is making its tablet debut with the Fire, has been projected to sell between 3 million and 5 million before the year is done.

The Fire's 7-inch screen is the priciest part of the device, coming in at a cost of about $87 per unit, IHS said. Supplying the displays for the Fire are LG (which also makes the Barnes & Noble Nook Color and Nook Tablet's 7-inch screens) and E Ink (which produces the Kindle eReader displays), the research firm said.

Texas Instruments is a major hardware partner of Amazon's as well, making the Fire's 1-gigahertz processor, IHS said.

"The TI OMAP4430 processor costs $14.65, accounting for 7.9 percent of the Kindle Fire’s total," IHS said in its report. "However, TI also supplies other devices, including the power management device and the audio codec. This gives TI a total of $24 per each Kindle, or 12.9 percent" of the Fire's build costs.

IHS also noted that it has spotted the OMAP4430 processor in its tear-downs of the Research In Motion's PlayBook tablet and the Motorola Droid Bionic and LG Optimus 3D P920 smartphones.

Amazon also saved money by not including items such as a camera, microphone, microSD card slot, HDMI port, 3G or 4G wireless radios and other features found in many rival tablets.

At $201.70, the Fire is cheaper to produce than the current bestselling tablet on the market, Apple's iPad 2, which has a production cost of about $326, according to an earlier IHS tear-down. But Apple sells its base iPad 2 at a profit-making price of $499.

The research firm came up with its cost-to-build estimate based on taking the Fire apart and pricing out each of the components inside. In Amazon's favor to help it recoup some costs, if the IHS estimate is correct, is the fact that the company will likely sell books, music, movies, TV shows and apps to Fire owners through their use of the tablet which is connected to the company's online stores.

And of course, as more devices are made, they often become cheaper to make and Amazon has already said it will be building more Fire tablets than it had first planned.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

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Photo: An Amazon.com employee holds the Kindle Fire tablet at the device's unveiling in New York in September. Credit: Emile Wamsteker / Bloomberg

Amazon looking to release a smartphone next year, analyst says

Kindle-foneAmazon.com Inc. may be putting a smartphone on the books.

The longtime bookseller and online retailer is broadening its business to include not just electronic reading devices and tablet computers like the just-released Kindle Fire, but also handheld smartphones, according to business intelligence gleaned by Mark Mahaney, an analyst at Citi.

Mahaney says he thinks Amazon will release a mid-priced smartphone by the fourth quarter of 2012 -- one that could cost less than $200 and that will be customized to work with Amazon's digital movies, music and e-books.

"We continue to believe Amazon has now set its eyes on the mobile (and tablet) media and product
consumption frontier," Mahaney wrote in a note to investors.

Mahaney said industry whispers indicated that Amazon would be working with Foxconn International Holdings, a subsidiary of the Taiwanese company Hon Hai Precision, a global leader in electronics manufacturing that makes other Amazon products as well as Apple's iPhone and iPad.

Further scuttlebutt from Mahaney on the specifications of the tablet:

We believe the smartphone will adopt Texas Instrument's OMAP 4 processor and is very likely to adopt [Qualcomm's] dual mode 6-series standalone baseband given [Qualcomm] has been a longtime baseband supplier for Amazon's e-reader.

If the rumors are true, the phone may also have an 8-megapixel camera, a 4-inch touch screen and an HSPA+ radio -- part of the newer generations of cellular technology that allows for faster data uploading and downloading.

"With the clear success of the Kindle e-reader over the past three years, and Kindle Fire possibly succeeding in the low-priced tablet market, we view this as the next logical step for Amazon," Mahaney wrote.

His note did not mention the type of software the phone might run, but in passing he cited a possible "OS royalty to Microsoft." Because of patents it owns, Microsoft collects royalties from many manufacturers of mobile devices running Google's Android operating system. The Kindle Fire is one such Android-based device.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Image: Photo illustration using images from Plenty.r / Flickr and andyi / Flickr

New Netflix app ready for Kindle Fire and Nook, but not iPad

Netflix announced a revamped tablet app now available for the Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble's Nook, but not for the iPad

The great tech horse race of 2011 pits the iPad, that thoroughbred of tablet computers, against a pair of new lightweight fillies, the Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble's Nook

But this year, the race may not be decided by horsepower alone. Indeed, in the run-up to the frenzied holiday buying season, the Android manufacturers are focusing less on their devices' technical prowess, and more on the kinds of things that people can do with them.

Last week, Amazon announced that the Kindle Fire will feature a "Lending Library" that will let paying users borrow a limited selection of books. Then Amazon pushed Hulu Plus, saying the for-pay TV and movie rental service would also be available on its Kindle Fire, along with music apps Pandora and Rhapsody.

And now, not to be left behind, Netflix is joining the party, announcing a revamped tablet app now available for the Fire and the Nook.

But not for the iPad. That version will arrive "in the coming weeks," the company said.

"It's nothing more than a timing issue," wrote Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey in an email, explaining that the Android release was timed to coincide with the Kindle Fire and Nook releases this week, and that there was no favoritism involved. "Netflix is agnostic on platforms -– no preferences or priorities," he wrote.

Still, that means iPad owners will have to be content with the older version of the Netflix app. Swasey did not reply to a question about whether the new version of the iPad app would be available by holiday buying time.

The new app, which Android users can download now, fits twice as many movies on the screen as the earlier version, and lets users easily swipe through many categories of films and TV shows, as well as begin streaming videos directly from within the app.

Check this space for continuing handicapping of the tablet derby.

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-- David Sarno

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Image: The new Netflix app for Android.  Credit: Netflix

Amazon Kindle Fire unboxed, first look [Video]

Amazon Kindle Fire tablet

As the Amazon Kindle Fire arrived on Monday, one day early for many who pre-ordered the tablet, a review unit from the Seattle company also arrived at the Los Angeles Times.

My review of the Kindle Fire won't be up on the Technology blog until Saturday, but given the anticipation around this device (many believe Amazon could sell 5 million tablets before year's end) I thought a quick hands-on video was in order. 

But before we could show you what the device looks like, we had to take it out of the box. And so, below you'll find our first unboxing video.

Unboxing is a bit of a peculiar phenomena online. Thousands of gadget unboxing videos can be found across the Web, but it's not typical for a news organization to present an unboxing video. So please feel free to sound off in the comments on whether or not you like the idea of us producing such a clip.

One note, in the video below, you'll see Amazon included a $30 "Kindle Fire Zip Sleeve" that doesn't come as a standard accessory with the $199 Fire itself. The sleeve is a really nice one, but it will cost you extra.

Here are a few first impressions ahead of our full review:

The Kindle Fire looks and feels a lot like Research In Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, which was reportedly produced by many of the same suppliers and assembler in China. But the PlayBook is slightly smaller while maintaining the same 7-inch touch screen.

The Fire runs a "forked" version of Google's Android operating system -- Amazon took Android and modified it to the point of it being largely unrecognizable as Android. The software, so far, is a bit finicky and doesn't always respond as I'd expect to the touch.

If you're an Amazon Prime subscriber or if you buy music, movies, TV shows, books and/or Android apps from Amazon, then you'll probably feel right at home on the Kindle. It's easy to navigate and everything I've seen so far is focused on consuming content from Amazon and not nearly as much on creating content of your own. So far, this seems to me to be a tablet for play, not necessarily work.

Feel free to throw any questions at me about the Fire in the comments section below -- I'll try to answer them there or in our review here Saturday.

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Photo: The Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, fresh out of the box. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times

Amazon Kindle Fire tablets arrive a day early

Kindle Fire

Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet hit consumers' doorsteps Monday, arriving a day early to many of those who pre-ordered the much-hyped 7-inch slate.

The $199 tablet has been pegged by many tech analysts and pundits as the first tablet that has a real shot at becoming a blockbuster seller outside of Apple's hit iPad line.

"We're thrilled to be able to ship Kindle Fire to our customers earlier than we expected," said Dave Limp, the vice president of Amazon's Kindle team, in a statement. "Kindle Fire quickly became the bestselling item across all of Amazon.com, and based on customer response we're building millions more than we'd planned."

Limp described the Fire as a premium product at a non-premium price. Indeed, the price is a key selling point for many.

Another big factor the Fire's success thus far is Amazon's ability to deliver content, and lots of it, to its tablet --  which has been a problem for most Android tablets on the market.

To ensure content is plentiful and consumed, Amazon is giving Fire buyers a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, its $79 yearly service that provides free video streaming and free shipping for items purchased from Amazon.com.

The Fire technically runs on Google's Android operating system, but it's a highly customized version of Android that focuses user activity toward content consumption from (where else?) Amazon, which has millions of e-books for sale alongside more than 17 million songs, more than 100,000 movies and TV shows and thousands of Android apps -- all from its own storefronts.

Amazon has been projected to sell about 3 million to 5 million Fire tablets before the year is up. However, the Seattle-based retailer has never released specific Kindle sales numbers and that's not expected to change with the Fire.

Did you order an Amazon Kindle Fire? If so, did it arrive today? If not, are you buying or have you purchased a competing tablet -- a Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet, Kobo Vox or iPad 2?

Feel free to sound off in the comments.

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Photo: An Amazon.com employee holds the Kindle Fire tablet at the device's unveiling in New York in September. Credit: Emile Wamsteker / Bloomberg

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