To a room full of journalists in midtown Manhattan today, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced that the new Amazon tablet Kindle Fire will ship Nov. 21. Priced at a relatively low $199, the new tablet could be the first product to seriously challenge Apple’s iPad. He also announced the Kindle Touch, smaller than the traditional Kindle and boasting infrared tapping capabilities, for $99 (3G costs $50 extra), and a new non-touch Kindle, priced at $79. “Let the fervor begin,” Bezos told the room.
Kindle Fire has a seven-inch screen (169 pixels-per-inch) and will feature free data storage in Amazon’s EC2 Cloud. Bezos stressed that the old model of having to backup files is a “broken system.” Moving forward, customers will be able to delete and re-download products at whim. Also a thing of the past, according to Bezos: manually syncing your devices with any kind of cord.
The popular WhisperSync capability from the Kindle e-reader — which saves your place in a book no matter what reading device you’re using — will now extend to movies and TV on Kindle Fire, saving your place in a movie whether you’re watching from the tablet or your living room TV. (Bezos demonstrated the functionality using X-Men: First Class. To show off simultaneous reading/listening capabilities, Bezos used The Help and Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,”)
Web browsing for the tablet will be powered by the newly announced Amazon Silk, which promises faster, better Internet performance thanks to a “split browser” capability that combines data transfer from both the local device and the cloud.
While the announcements focused on new online capabilities, Bezos emphasized that physical sales for books are still increasing, and that the new technology will only enforce traditional sales.