Although it can't compete with Apple's App Store, Amazon is launching the Kindle Fire with several thousand of the most popular Android apps and games. All of the apps are Amazon-tested for the Kindle Fire.
The app lineup includes Netflix, Rhapsody, Pandora, Twitter, Comics by comiXology, Facebook, The Weather Channel and popular games from Zynga, EA, Gameloft, PopCap and Rovio. Consumers can download the apps and games using Amazon's 1-Click system. Amazon will give away a paid app free every day in its Appstore and that app will work on all Android-powered devices.
Beyond the apps, Amazon has plenty of content available for the Kindle Fire, namely 18 million-plus movies, TV shows, songs, books and magazines. Amazon also promised to add more apps and games every day across all categories, such as Allrecipes, Bloomberg, Cut the Rope, Doodle Fit, Fruit Ninja, LinkedIn and Zillow.
Even though Amazon has its own Amazon Prime service that offers members access to streaming video content, the retailer has partnered with its struggling competitor, Netflix. The Netflix app lets Kindle Fire customers with Netflix accounts watch their content on the new tablet right where they left off on their computer or television.
"The Kindle Fire is a consumption-oriented tablet, where you are buying into Amazon's extensive list of content and services," said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis. "But that doesn't preclude using other people's content as well."
Content providers are lining up to get on the Kindle Fire. Zynga Chief Mobile Officer David Ko, for example, said teaming up with Amazon to make Words With Friends a featured game on the Kindle Fire helps the social-game maker reach new and existing players on yet another device. And Rhapsody's president of business development said the company is "really stoked" to offer its members music on the Kindle Fire.
Stacking Up Against iPad
As Greengart sees it, opening the Kindle Fire to competing app makers -- and even retailers -- has two effects. First, it causes shoppers, who may have been eyeing the Nook Tablet because they didn't expect Amazon to allow a Netflix app on the platform, to give the Kindle Fire a second look. But it also shows that Amazon is consistent.
"Amazon is a retailer and they will let you use their platform to buy content from them or others," Greengart said. "Amazon certainly hopes you buy the majority of your content through them. But one of the reasons why Amazon wants you to buy the Kindle Fire is to use the Appstore, and they are populating that Appstore."
The holiday shopping season will offer clues as to how well the Kindle Fire will compete against the Apple iPad. At $199, it is priced to sell and it offers plenty of bells and whistles. But it's not as large or as versatile as the iPad 2.
"If you want a more computer-centric device or if you want access to Apple's ecosystem, which is significantly larger than what Amazon is offering, there are still plenty of reasons to buy an iPad," Greengart said. "But in the 7-inch category, the Kindle Fire looks like the tablet to beat."