Now that the hullabaloo has died down from the record-setting $9 million debut of Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 5s and 5c models, another release—this time by Amazon.com (AMZN)—has taken its place in the news.
Taking dead aim at Apple’s much costlier iPad, Amazon unveiled its Kindle Fire HDX last week. It’s described as more colorful, three times faster, more powerful thanks to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, niftier and cheaper than its Kindle predecessor.
In contrast to Apple’s usual announcements featuring mock-turtle shirted CEOs, dramatic lighting and drum rolls, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos opted for a more subtle approach. The one and only press release reads:
“It’s been just two years since we introduced the first Kindle Fire, and the team is innovating at an unbelievable speed. 2.2 GHz processor, 339 ppi display, new 34% lighter design, Fire OS 3.0, and new exclusive features like the Mayday button, X-Ray for Music, Second Screen, and Prime Instant Video downloads. We’ve worked hard to pack this much hardware, innovation, and customer obsession into these prices.”
The Mayday feature does add an interesting twist. Users can press the button and connect with Amazon tech support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via a live one-way video chat. That puts Siri to shame!
Giving them away?
The big questions now seem to be: Will it gain on the iPad, and can Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos beat Apple at its own game?
When it comes right down to the bottom lines—market share, percentage of sales and loyalty—Amazon can’t touch Apple, and neither can any of the other tablet makers.
According to research from NPD, Apple owned 48% (14.6 million units) of U.S. tablet market share from May through July, followed by the Kindle with 17% (470,000 units), and Samsung’s (SSNLF) Galaxy line running on Google’s Android operating system with 8%.
Some might say Amazon could offer the most technologically advanced tablet on earth and it wouldn’t matter. The fact that users can’t access the most popular Apple or Google apps doesn’t help the cause either.
Giving them away might be the ticket…which is what Bezos is coming close to doing. Bezos might be on to something by offering a model that undercuts Apple’s iPad line completely. While all Kindles are comparatively cheaper than Apple’s offerings, the updated Fire HD for $139—reduced from $199—could draw the most attention from anti-Apple geeks looking for a bargain.
You’ve got to hand it to Amazon for its aggressive pricing and dedication to customer service. That might ultimately help Amazon bolster market share, but many believe it won’t be enough to put a dent in Apple’s. All three of the new Kindle Fire tablets are currently available for preorder and will ship on October, 18 just in time for the holiday season.
One final note: If any company could figure out how to compete with Apple head-to-head, it would be Bezos-owned. Who knows what he might dream up next…a free subscription to The Washington Post with every Kindle?