Kindle Fire: Preliminary Thoughts

Today, Amazon announced the Kindle Fire. Tactically, there are a few things that were mentioned in the press conference that might impact Android application developers:

  • The device is 169dpi, which should make it -mdpi from an Android resource perspective.
  • The device has its own browser (Silk) that proxies through the Amazon cloud. If you link to the browser (e.g., startActivity() on an ACTION_VIEW for an HTTP Uri), you will want to test this out to ensure there are no compatibility issues. Similarly, one would expect WebView to be unaffected directly, but that will be worth testing.

Strategically, the $199 price point, coupled with Amazon’s marketing prowess, means that this device will sell quite a few units before year’s end, assuming that initial reviewers indicate that it works well. Since the Fire presumably only has the Amazon Appstore, which has fewer applications on it than does the Android Market, there is an opportunity for paid applications to do well for a while, until the Appstore becomes saturated. This is similar to the case for the Nook Color, except that the Appstore has been available for developers for longer, and the Fire may well outsell the Nook simply due to Amazon’s reach.

Amazon also announced other e-ink Kindles, ranging from $79 to $149, depending on whether they have a touchscreen and/or 3G. On the surface, this might seem to cannibalize the Fire. However, if Amazon does a good job of promoting the incremental benefits of the Fire (e.g., full color, games, videos, apps), the incremental price may make the Fire seem like a much better value. It will be interesting to see how this facet plays out.

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