Amazon unveils Kindle Fire

Ilya Marritz Sep 28, 2011

Amazon unveils Kindle Fire

Ilya Marritz Sep 28, 2011

Kai Ryssdal: Analysts call it first-mover advantage. Consumers call it getting the cool new gadgets before everyone else.

But whatever you call it — Apple has it. First with the iPhone, then with the iPad — the past five years or so Apple has been able to take huge chunks of whatever mobile market it wants.

Which is why what was basically a public relations event in New York today was such a big deal. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pulled back the curtain on one of the most hotly anticipated gadgets of the season: the Kindle Fire. It’s billed as being more than just another e-reader and — Bezos fervently hopes — a worthy competitor to the aforementioned iPad.

From WNYC in New York City, Ilya Marritz reports.

Ilya Marritz: The Kindle Fire offers all the things earlier Kindles didn’t: movies and music, magazines in full color and video games. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos demonstrated his virtual pineapple-chopping skills on a game called Fruit Ninja.

Jeff Bezos: I also have to admit, I find this a little uncomfortably therapeutic.

It’s easy to understand why Bezos might crave a little mindless relaxation. The Kindle Fire is going up against the iPad in a competitive arena where other tablets have gone to die. Like the iPad, the Fire is mostly screen, and you operate it by touch. But the Fire is smaller — just seven and a half inches.

And something else is smaller too: the price.

Bezos: It’s $199.

Sarah Rotman Epps: You could buy four Kindle Fires for the price of one souped-up iPad.

That’s Sarah Rotman Epps, a tech analyst with Forrester Research. Epps says Amazon may be selling the Fire at a loss. That’s because the online retailer wants the Fire is to function mainly as a virtual shopping cart.

Epps: Putting this device in consumer’s hands pretty much guarantees that they will be a serious Amazon spender.

Loading up on digital content like music and books, and maybe some pots and pans too.

Analysts predict sales of the Fire could top three million this year. The tablet ships on November 15th — in plenty of time for you know what.

In New York, I’m Ilya Marritz for Marketplace.

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