Amazon is bringing two of its Kindle Fire tablets to the UK, but rumours the online retailer would announce a smartphone fell wide of the mark.
The retailer began selling its Kindle Fire tablet less than a year ago in the US but revealed a new model last night (6 September) with a faster processor, twice the memory and a longer battery life. The new Kindle Fire will go on sale from 25 October, priced £125. The seven-inch tablet connects over Wi-Fi and has 8GB of memory.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also revealed a brand new tablet, the Kindle Fire HD. The 16GB model is £159 while the 32GB version is priced £199. It has a 1280x800-pixel high definition display on a seven-inch screen, and like the Kindle Fire, runs on a 1.2GHz dual-core processor. It will also go on sale on 25 October.
Both devices come with a free one-month subscription to LOVEFiLM and Amazon's Prime service, which gives customers free one day delivery. The devices run a forked version of Android's operating system.
Bezos said: 'Kindle Fire HD is the world’s most advanced seven-inch tablet, with a stunning customised HD display, the fastest Wi-Fi, exclusive Dolby audio, powerful processor and graphics engine, 11 hours of battery life, and 16GB of storage for all your HD content. Not only does Kindle Fire HD feature the most advanced hardware, it’s also a service. When combined with our enormous content ecosystem, unmatched cross-platform interoperability, and standard-setting customer service, we hope people will agree that Kindle Fire HD is the best seven-inch tablet available anywhere, at any price.'
The launch will have implications for the UK tablet market. Amazon has acquired a 22% share of the US tablet market since launching the Kindle Fire and the devices' low price will see it compete with the likes of the Google Nexus 7. When Apple holds its press conference next week, it is widely expected to announce a seven-inch tablet in addition to the new iPhone.
IDC research manager Francisco Jeronimo said: 'Amazon has announced not only a great tablet from a hardware perspective, but has bundled it with great services and content, significantly improved the user experience and is bringing it to consumers at a price that will make the good quality tablet segment accessible to the mass market, for the first time.'
Andy Castonguay, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, said: 'The new Kindle Fire HD lineup, which runs on Android 4.0, will provide Amazon with a much-needed boost for its device sales, but faces an increasingly competitive field, especially from Google’s Nexus 7 and Samsung’s top tablet models. Amazon’s combination of an expanded hardware offering and well-integrated and robust media services are well positioned for the short-term, but the online innovator will no longer be able to compete with only annual updates to its devices portfolio. Even with the improved quality and continued value pricing, Amazon will need to issue semi-annual updates and include the most recent version of Android (Jelly Bean) in order to fend off Android competitors in the coming months.'
Amazon also announced a 4G version of the tablet last night. Speculation had been mounting for some weeks that the retailer would take the opportunity to launch a long-rumoured smartphone, but no announcement was made.
Editor: Graeme Neill