Amazon launches new Kindle Fire tablets in UK

Jeff Bezos holds Kindle Fire HD tablets Chief executive Jeff Bezos showed two sizes of Kindle Fire tablets at the California press conference

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Amazon has unveiled three new Kindle Fire tablets at an event in California.

The Kindle Fire HD comes in two options: either with a 7in (17.8cm) screen or an 8.9in (22.6cm) one. That pitches the latter directly against Apple's slightly larger iPad, the bestselling tablet on the market.

A third device upgrades its original model and cuts its price.

Amazon said the first Kindle Fire had captured 22% of the US tablet market - the only country it was sold in.

The 7in Kindle Fire HD with 16 gigabytes of storage will cost £159 in the UK, and the lower-end Kindle Fire £129. Both will be available for delivery from 25 October.

By contrast the iPad 2 is sold for £329; the Google Nexus 7 and Samsung Galaxy Tab2 7 for £199; and the Kobo Arc tablet for £189.

The 8.9in Kindle Fire HD has only been given a release date for the US at this time, where it will become available in November.

All the Kindle Fire devices will show "special offer" adverts on their screens when their displays are put into lock mode.

Amazon's share price closed 2% higher.

Improved connectivity

Chief executive Jeff Bezos said the HD models featured stereo speakers, an HDMI port - making it easy to connect to a television - and a laminated touchscreen to reduce glare in sunlight.

They are powered by a processor made by Texas Instruments.

In addition, they contain two wi-fi antennas and Mimo (multiple-input and multiple-output) radio wave technology to improve their connection to the internet. The bigger model can be bought with 4G connectivity at a higher price in the US.

Kindle Fire HD Only the smaller of the two Kindle Fire HD models is being released in the UK

Technology analysts thought the devices could pose a serious challenge to the market leaders.

"This could easily be the product that beats the iPad particularly for those of us who are readers, easy and innovative in design and use, with unique features like X-Ray which allows you to become far more intimate with what you are reading," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

Francisco Jeronimo, research manager at IDC added: "Amazon's tablet provides a richer user experience than the Google Nexus 7 or any other 10in Android tablet on the market - the content is embedded in the hardware in such a way that it seems a feature of it and not an application that comes with it for users to open when they need to access media."

However, another industry watcher had a more reserved take on the launch.

"On paper the Kindle Fire HD is a good product but we shouldn't get carried away," said Chris Green, principal analyst at Davies Murphy Group Europe.

"The Android market is deeply competitive and there are better specced models out there, so it's not going to run away with the whole market.

"Also we have still to hear from Apple about its new iPhone and a rumoured smaller iPad, both of which will impact sales."

Price war

Amazon's strategy for its low-end Kindle Fire caught many observers by surprise. The device features more RAM memory and a faster processor than its predecessor but has had its price cut by about 20% to $159 (£100).

Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum, suggested Amazon might have felt forced to make the move.

"Amazon is clearly spooked by Google's Nexus 7 coming in at $200 for a much more capable device," she said.

"It's upped its own hardware specs while reducing the price, which is clearly an attempt to keep it somewhat attractive in the face of that new competition from Google and Asus."

Illuminated e-reader

Mr Bezos also unveiled a new dedicated ebook reader called the Kindle Paperwhite which will be released at the start of October - initially as a US-exclusive.

Kindle Paperwhite The Kindle Paperwhite's battery supports 28 hours of reading time if its wireless facility is switched off

It can display sharper text and more detailed images than previous models and features a "patented light guide" to illuminate its touchscreen, allowing it to be used in the dark.

The model - which is available with built-in 3G connectivity at an extra cost - will face competition from the existing Nook GlowLight and the upcoming Kobo Glo e-readers which also feature a built-in light source.

Although the UK will have to wait for the Kindle Paperwhite, the company's basic model has had a minor upgrade and a price cut to £69.

That is more expensive than the low-end Kobo Mini which costs £60, but cheaper than Sony's PRS-T2 Reader which costs £119 and Elonex's eInk 621EB which is £99. Details of how much the Nook e-reader will cost in the UK have not yet been disclosed.

"Amazon has a massive advantage in the UK because of its brand name and the fact it will have its devices promoted and sold in Waterstones book stores later this year," Philip Jones, deputy editor of the Bookseller magazine said.

"But I wouldn't write off the Nook or Kobo at this point.

"Barnes and Noble has done well in the US, and, if it puts a bit of oomph behind the Nook's launch, it could gain some traction... and Kobo has the cash of a rich parent, Japan's Rakuten, to support it."

Rumours that Amazon would unveil a smartphone proved to be unfounded.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    It's the VHS vs Betamax battle all over again.

    I've downloaded about ten paid for books to my iPhone but I'm worried that I won't have an Apple device for ever and so I'll lose the titles I've bought.

    If they sort out a cross platform standard and stop charging exorbitant prices for titles that they haven't had to print or physically distribute then I'd be less cautious and buy more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    No point in shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.

    Excited about these products 18 months back but Amazon chose to ignore the UK consumer so I chose to ignore Amazon.

    It makes me feel dirty to say it but I got an iPad instead.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    >38. David H Parry
    >The BBC rarely promotes the UK
    >'the usual american suspects'
    >getting off your *ss

    I share your irritation.
    A bit like people saying 'a**' when they really mean 'ar**'.

    An a** is a donkey.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    I would have given a lot to have shown my Kindle, my girlfriend's, and my friend's all with frozen screens mid-way through that presentation. The next new thing is out while the older models are forgotten, still annoyed!

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Why do Americans need a bigger screen to read books?

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    SO in short, for the same price as a Nexus7 (that can install the Amazon Kindle app, the Kobo app, the Sony reader app), you can buy a Amazon device that's lower spec, can only get it's apps from the dire Amazon store, and can only get it's books from Amazon.

    OK then.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    The prices given in this article are almost certainly wrong.

    In the USA you can buy a kindle touch for less than half the price of the UK and you also get a more functional device (you can get library books on kindle in the USA).

    Amazon has treated British people like absolute morons.

    Only buy a kindle if you agree with them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    It displays adverts when the screen is locked? When I lock the screen of my device I expect it to go to sleep not use its battery to 'batter' me with adverts......ridiculous!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Sounds like a good gadget, but I won't be buying one from Amazon on principle because they have unfair market advantage by not paying tax and that is so unfair.

    Actually, I haven't got any money!

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    im not convinced as to the use of any of these devices and wont buy into the must have one becouse some one else does its false ecconomy and typical of how things are today

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.


    $199 + VAT = $239, so the UK price is less than a tenner more than the US price. That can be accounted for in different trading costs between UK & US.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    The BBC rarely promotes the UK in business & has spent the last few years making press releases from 'the usual american suspects' into 'news' because; it's easier than getting off your *ss & going to a smelly industrial estate to follow a real story, most 'journalists' these days aren't, people are lazy & getting more so, the big corps 'pay well' in terms of free wine at press evenings.


  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    I hope it has nice square corners or it could be in trouble
    I heard recently that round corners had been patented as an original idea no-one had ever thought of before, like the jet engine

    On a more serious note Amazon is a seriously capable organisation who should never be underestimated
    A bit like RyanAir, they seem to be capable of leveraging competitive advantage into a similar product

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Making something like the Kindle is not terribly hard but fighting the predistribution of market share thanks to positive feedback from media outlets like the BBC is a considerable handicap.

    We have a domestic e-book reader brand - why didn't you regurgitate their marketing output?

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Yes, I'd like one. Yes, I'd like one at the US price and the ability to download all the US content, like movies & tv shows. But I can't afford it. I have Kindle software on my laptop and phone and read Kindle content on one or the other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    I would buy the Nexus 7 over the Amazon offering without even giving it another thought. Hoping to buy the nexus 7 3G version when it comes out in October. I wish Amazon had embraced the Android platform and worked with Google to move it forward in one entity, and not tried to cannibalise it, which will dilute and confuse the consumer long term, which does not help either knock apple off its perch

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    #31 Cedders-B

    I was referring to a business model where the manufacturer bears all costs of the product, ungrading & maintenance, to provide the customer with the services of the product at vastly lower costs to them while the manufacturer benefits from the discipline of having to design products that are easier to upgrade, maintain and dispose of.

    High tech isn't made like that but we plan to!

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    @ 15.Finisterre

    "Reliable would be nice and customer service that cares even better."

    Actually Kindle support is excellent, with several ways to contact them including a call back at a time of your choosing. Knowledgeable staff and no quibble replacements if your device does turn out to be faulty (which is rare).

    Beat that Apple.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Mr Parry
    There are a number of companies who hire out tablets for periods ranging from one day to one year. It took me less than half an hour to find three such companies within a short drive or train journey of where I live. I would warn you though, that hiring a tablet comes at YOUR expense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    @ 12.Graeme Wilson

    "If a company making tinned food was to launch a new type of baked bean, would we be invited to comment ?"

    Were you "invited to comment" or did you stumble across the article and feel we could benefit from your wisdom? It's news about technology in the "News / Technology" section. Not sure what you expected...


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