While it is true that Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) new iPhone and Apple Watch announcements didn’t do much for the company’s stock price, the new devices do offer some pretty impressive technological advances. But the Cupertino giant didn’t have the stage to itself for long — Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) announced an all-new version of its Fire HD tablet Thursday morning that may be equally impressive.
In a thinly veiled shot at Apple, Amazon’s tablets division general manager said that the company believes in “providing a premium product at non-premium prices.” The new Fire HD 8 costs $89.99, well below the cost of Apple’s new AirPod wireless headphones that retail for $159. An iPad mini 4 retails for $399.99.
Amazon has promised integration of its Alexa voice-control service for the HD 8 but gave no delivery date other than “coming soon.” The new tablet is scheduled for release on September 21, and Amazon is accepting preorders now.
The new device also features a high-definition, eight-inch display with 16 gigabyte (GB) of storage standard and a 32 GB option available, plus support for a microSD card that could expand storage capacity to 200 GB.
Now the iPad mini 4 does win the specifications battle: the Retina display’s 2048 × 1536 screen resolution is nearly double the HD 8’s 1280 × 800, and the mini 4’s storage can be expanded up to 128 GB internally. Both feature Wi-Fi connectivity.
The Fire HD8’s most prominent feature, though, is its price. Previous versions of the eight-inch tablets had a retail list price of $150.
Amazon is gambling that the slowdown in tablet sales was at least partly a function of the devices’ cost. The slowdown is also partly due to the length of time consumers hold on to the tablet they already own. Smartphones turn over about every two to three years, while owners may hold on to their tablets for up to four years. Second-quarter 2016 global tablet sales were down more than 12% year over year.
IDC research manager Jonathan Gaw told the Associated Press:
The rest of the tablet category has pretty much taken a dip, whereas Amazon has been able to increase their share. They are not necessarily out to make a great margin on the device itself so it works out pretty well for them.
Amazon’s stock traded flat early Thursday, at $784.51 in a 52-week range of $474.00 to $790.79. The consensus 12-month price target is $870.33.
Apple shares traded down about 2.3%, at $105.84 in a 52-week range of $89.47 to $123.82. The consensus target for the stock is $123.66.
Apple’s shares could be getting hit following the company’s announcement that it will not report first weekend preorders. In a statement to CNBC, the company said that it thinks the reports have become more an indicator of supply than demand, and are “no longer a representative metric for our investors and customers.” Apple also said it already knows that initial demand will outstrip supply for the iPhone 7.