Consumer Electronics

Amazon's New Tablets Get Subdued Introduction

Amazon Fire_HDX_8.9
Source: Amazon.com Inc.
Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) knows how to make noise about new products and services, so when the company chooses to introduce five new models of its Kindle and Kindle Fire tablets, we naturally wonder what’s going on.

The devices themselves include some noteworthy features. For example:

  • Fire HDX8.9, which Amazon says is 20% lighter than the iPad Air from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), will retail for $349 in the Wi-Fi-only version and $479 for the 4G-enabled version.
  • Fire HD, a 6-inch tablet with a bunch of features will sell for $99 and will run the company’s new operating system, Fire OS 4, that also powers the HDX8.9.
  • Fire HD Kids Edition, which will sell for $149 and comes with a two-year guarantee against any kind of failure, no matter how roughly the kids treat it.
  • Kindle e-reader, the latest version of the device that started it all, now with a touchscreen display, new software and double the storage capacity, for just $79.
  • Kindle Voyage, a $199 version of the e-reader that includes a 300 pixels-per-inch display, an adaptive front light for better screen brightness and a long-lived battery.

The press release announcing these products focuses on the top-of-the-line HDX8.9, but the truly interesting product is the $99 Fire HD, which sells for less than half the price of Amazon’s current 7-inch tablet.

The Fire HD is the sort of device we expect from Amazon: a low-priced piece of hardware that the company will make money on by selling additional content like its Amazon Prime subscriptions.

The fanfare surrounding the introduction of the Fire Phone last summer was not matched by sales of the company’s first smartphone, and Amazon was recently selling the device for $0.99 with a two-year contract from AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). The lack of hoopla surrounding the release of these five tablets may be the company’s way of trying to avoid similar embarrassment.

The new tablets may be pre-ordered now, and shipments are set to start in October.

Amazon’s stock closed down 1.15% on Wednesday, at $324.00 in a 52-week range of $284.38 to $408.06, and was inactive in Thursday’s premarket session.

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