A slew of new product announcements from Amazon -- including plans for a $49.99 tablet aimed at holiday shoppers -- confirm that the e-commerce giant is still actively committed to developing consumer devices in-house. The recent demise of its failed Fire Phone notwithstanding, Amazon clearly continues to have ambitious hardware marketing goals.
One of those goals is competing against Apple, which sold more than 225 million units of its iPad last year. While the least expensive iPad -- the 16-gigabyte iPad mini 2 -- retails for $269, Amazon plans to offer a buy-five-get-one-free six pack of its new Fire tablet for $249.95.
Other new products announced by Amazon yesterday include a Fire TV with support for 4K Ultra HD, a Fire TV Stick with voice remote, a "kid-proof" version of its Fire tablet and a Fire TV hardware package designed for gamers. The company also said it's releasing a higher-end Fire HD tablet, available with either an 8-inch or 10.1-inch screen.
Introducing 'Amazon Underground'
The new low-cost Fire tablet represents the next step in Amazon's mission to deliver "premium products at non-premium prices," said the company's founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in a statement. Featuring a quad-core processor and a new app store experience called Amazon Underground, the Fire "sets a new bar for what customers should expect from a low-cost tablet," he said.
Amazon Underground is a "a one-of-a-kind experience where apps, games, and in-app items are 100 percent free for customers, and Amazon pays developers based on the amount of time your Amazon Underground app is used," according to the company's online description of the program. Amazon is billing the feature as a new way for developers to monetize their own Android-based apps.
The new Fire tablets are built with Fire OS 5, which Amazon has dubbed "Bellini." A Linux-based mobile operating system, Fire OS is a forked version of the Android OS. Pre-ordering is available now, and tablets are scheduled to begin shipping on September 30.
No Signs of Fire Phone
Yesterday's announcements stand in contrast to last month's news that Amazon had fired "dozens" of engineers at its Lab126 research and development facility. Many of those engineers had reportedly worked on the company's ill-fated Fire Phone, which was released last July and has fared poorly on the market.
The Fire Phone was noticeably absent from Amazon's new product announcements this week. It's another sign that the company plans to abandon its efforts with the device, although executives have not yet said so publicly.
The other new devices that are available for pre-order include: the $99.99 Fire TV, set to ship October 5; the $49.99 Fire TV Stick, shipping October 22; the $99.99 Fire Kids Edition, scheduled to become available on September 30; and the $139.99 Fire TV Gaming Edition, set to ship on October 5. Also set to ship on September 30 are the Fire HD 8 and HD 10 tablets, priced starting at $149.99 and $229.99, respectively.
Posted: 2015-09-17 @ 2:24pm PT
Seriously, the whole Fire tablet line up is flawed. They call their lager devices "HD", but their display does not come anywhere near the Apple iPad's or Google Nexus. Cheap stuff, branded Amazon and overpriced.