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It's a BlackBerry Playbook with Amazon juice, and a pretty solid color touchscreen Android tablet for $199. They can leverage their extensive content offerings and cloud storage to create what's probably the best non-iPad tablet out there, right out of the gate.

The 'Silk' browser is a pretty cool differentiator, for sure. They'll sell a ton of 'em. But I actually am more excited by what this new 'top of the line' device did to the rest of the Kindle family. You can now get a basic e-ink Kindle for $79, or a Kindle Touch for $99 ($149 with 3G). Remember the first, ugly, klunky Kindle sold for $399!
Ryan Ozawa's profile photoTin Hoy's profile photoJared Kuroiwa's profile photoT Freitas's profile photo
You're right! Baby Kindles are gonna be even more places now!

However, isn't this just a Nook Color with a nifty browser?
Dual-Core processor, so a bit more power than a Nook, but with less memory. Access to Amazon media content, so a bit more there than the Nook. Now to see how quickly it can be hacked and modded. The Nook is easy to turn into a nifty Vanilla Android Tab. If the Fire is easily hacked, this could be a nice little toy.
What I find interesting about the Kindle Fire is that it's poised to be the best Android tablet available, and yet it's not really an Android tablet 
More power than a Nook, but less power than other (but admittedly much more expensive) tablets.

But +Wayne Akiyama raises a more fundamental question. The Kindle Fire may ultimately end up being the least "Android" Android tablet, and that could just add to the confusion over the OS. Already there are three relatively new Android smartphones in my office, all on different releases and two with custom overlays, and any attempt to introduce new cool apps to each other ends in conversational gobbledygook. Amazon should just say it's AmazonOS or something.
Does the OS matter to the average user? When something goes wrong, are you going to contact Google?
+Jared Kuroiwa I just asked my Mom who was a 1-year Kindle user until the iPad came out. She doesn't even know what I'm talking about when I say, "OS". All she wants is what she wants: easy access to her library, ability to download to her library, games, and videos. I purchased her a Kindle after she first met +Ricky Li, six months later she watched the announcement of the iPad and put in her request. I'm waiting for her to read about this and call me for the Fire. Will I buy it for her? Heck yeah, she's my Mom! :)
I love the Kindle. Light, small, easy to read. A great reading device, for sure, and the Kindle Fire adds lot of goodies. My wife has a second-generation Kindle, and that Touch is looking pretty good.

And yes, most Kindle users aren't power users of their devices. So most of what I'm saying is not relevant.

But as to the "OS" question, I think it might matter. People knew they needed VHS and not Beta tapes, people know they have to have Blu-Ray to see Blu-Ray. If you're told the Kindle Fire is an Android device, but can't do the things you see and hear Android devices can do, it's frustrating. Will I call Google? Or Amazon? No. But I won't be happy.
+NEENZ FALEAFINE: You know you have to if it's mom...

Back to the OS comment, the fact is most devices have OSes that people never know what they are and a lot of the time it's Windows CE or XP. But for application specific use, i.e. a movie player, magazine and book reader, if really doesn't matter as long as the user experience matches or exceeds the expectation of the user. That's where iOS has excelled as Apple controls all aspects of the device. Android hasn't been as successful and it may come down to manufacturers getting involved (my ASUS Transformer is a decent example).

The negative... you may end up with Sony-like installations which, if you've experienced Sony PCs, makes fixing them complicated.

In this case, I think Amazon will take care of their customer support and not pass issues back to Google. If they do that, they'll be fine regardless of the platform.
+Ryan Ozawa: As the average user... why would you know? I know it's odd for a tinkerer, but most people don't even know how to install an app from the app store on their iPhones (seriously).

Do people know what an Android device is? Let alone what the similarities (and differences) are between the devices? I tend to think not.

I think people will see it as "works on Kindle" and "doesn't work on Kindle" rather than is this an Android app or an iOS app and why can't I install it.
Hey you guys, keep up this convo, I'm learning a lot! Thanks!
You would know because Amazon is selling it as an Android tablet. So I think the point is, don't call it that. It's a Kindle Fire, full stop. If you put Android high up in the selling points, buyers will remember it... then get annoyed when their friend's Android gadget can do something their Kindle Fire can't.
lol! +Ryan Ozawa, had to re-edit as I read your post again... On their website ( they only mention Android once (under email of all things). So I don't think that Amazon is marketing it as an Android device. It may be in the spot as a deal with Google (as I'm sure Google has something in their contract... at least I would) or Google pays for it (that actually happens a lot with advertising like the local Kia dealers get some money from national to run spots).

Did I mention that I love being able to edit my posts in G+?!
To add to the thought... The Android mention on the Kindle Fire page is specifically for the "Amazon Appstore for Android" which may be their way of controlling the Google "Marketplace" that is all crazy and has some security and quality issues with some apps.

If Amazon manages and acts as a gatekeeper to their store (which is what it looks like as they say "All apps are Amazon-tested on Kindle Fire for the best experience possible.") they'll have basically created an semi-closed environment for their device and their software (and partners). Genius!
My wife and I were waiting for the rumored announcement for exactly the reason you mentioned, that the "plain old Kindle" would get cheaper as a result. We will be getting one soon!
That part is genius, yes. The Kindle Fire will be able to run all the apps in the Google Marketplace, and out of the box, the Google Marketplace is the only place you'll be able to buy apps.

Of course, for Android developers, that kind of fragmentation in app stores is also a concern...
+Ryan Ozawa You won't be able to run apps from The Google Marketplace, only from the Amazon App Store. Amazon has less apps than The Google Marketplace, but they are usually cheaper.
I agree with it being disconcerting for Android app developers... but at least you don't have to write it again. It's probably just another vetting process/application.
Ah, the double-edged sword of the open marketplace, and the very reason that Unix-based operating systems never gained mass appeal, until Apple started using one. It would be great if we could all agree on an operating system and let the hardware and apps be the deciding factors, but that would be too simple, or somehow be doomed to fail.
lol! That's the web and HTML5 (well, at least that's the hope).
I wonder how long it will take someone to root it. Then I'm interested.
no, +Valentino Valdez Amazon would have to include the words "wicked" and "wahine" to make it sound like cheap perfume. :)
I think the average buyer is going to care whether the Fire is or isn't an Android device in a few years.

Remember that the fire runs on a forked version of Android (I think it's Cupcake). Eventually, Android apps just aren't going to run on it.

Or may be they won't. Amazon's curating its own app store. I think eventually Amazon might just drop the Android connection, as thin as it is now, entirely if the Fire catches on.

The bigger question might be that if the Fire does catch on, doesn't it put Google's whole business model in danger? G's not going to get all the consumer info, buying habits and browsing history from the Fire, Amazon is.

This isn't the only example of someone using Android against Google. Alibaba in China is going to launch Aliyun, a mobile phone OS that's -- wait for it -- forked from Android.
That's right... I was commenting on +Wayne Akiyama's comment (which is a good one). The only part I'm not sure of is what Google's plan is for Android and if they care as much as Apple most definitely does. I guess we'll see what Google does in the coming months.

Here's a good piece on the forking of Android by Amazon ( and they say they're using Android 2.3 (Gingerbread).

Hmm, Amazoned Android for Xoom?
+Jared Kuroiwa Google's policy as of late has been to only release new Android versions to select OEMs, hasn't it? For example, Motorola, Samsung and a few other OEMs have access to Honeycomb and I think that's how they'll be handling Ice Cream Sandwich as well.

From what I've read, it's caused a furor in the open source community because of Google's stated commitment to Android being open source and that it's based on Linux.

Sometimes I wonder if forking Android is really what all these Android OEMs really want to do with their mobile devices, considering all the overlays (TouchWiz, Blur, Sense) they wind up installing over the stock UI.
+Wayne Akiyama: I totally agree that the OEMs are looking at this and licking their lips. And I wonder if Google sees this as a bad thing (again, I know Apple would... but I'm not sure what Google thinks now).

Even for the consumer, is it really bad? Especially if the fork is like Amazon's where they offer all the support, software and vetting of apps.

Now, what does Google think? Sure you'll loose a lot of data collection... but they are still using Android. They won't have the kind of control (and revenue generation) that iOS enjoys... but would they have? I think that Android was heading down a crazy, convoluted path already and this may be a better direction in the long run for the platform.
+Jared Kuroiwa I have to think that all of this is causing headaches at Google. The whole point of Android is to collect consumer data and serve up ads, isn't it? If they don't have access to that data and they can't deliver ads, what's the point of them devoting resources to it? If everyone winds up forking Android, the only people left using Android will be no-name commodity manufacturers being sold to people no company's interested in selling ads to.

As for the consumers, yes, if they get all the support and curation of an app store, it would be great. It would be a huge pain for developers though -- rather than one, centralized app store, you have to go through HTC's, or Samsung's or whoever. But wouldn't this be a return to the bad old days, when every carrier had their own "app store" but the apps were all crap? Not to mention support from cell phone manufacturers is for the most part minimal.

This is where things are going to get really weird: Yes, Android does have a majority of marketshare in mobiles, but if everyone starts forking Android into their own flavor, the it throws the whole ecosystem in disarray (as in HTC has its own fork of Android, Samsung has its own fork, some other OEM has its own fork...).

And it's doubtful that these forks will be compatible -- and the OEMs might has well auction off data collection and ad delivery rights to their devices, while they're at it. They might has well be different OSs.

So if everyone starts forking, then the players with real majorities are iOS/Apple and, since we're looking down the road, Microsoft. Android can only lose in this situation. Maybe the scenario where Motorola becomes premiere Android OEM is how this whole thing plays out.

Again, there must be a lot of headaches in Mountain View. And yes, crazy and convoluted path, indeed.
+Wayne Akiyama: Aren't most of the apps on the Android Store already crap? And most manufacturers are putting their crap on the phones right now (one of the things that piss me off about my Thunderbolt chock full of Verizon apps I will never use and can't delete).

This is going to be interesting and as much as I have love and hate for iOS and Apple's control over the platform... you have to admit that there are definite strengths in controlling all aspects of the platform.

I'm still hoping web apps win...
Tin Hoy
Is this all making a moutain out of a molehill? Is there enough evidence in the first place that shows Amazon's fork will make it a compatibility nightmare for app developers? Amazon will need app developers' support to be successful; willingly alienating them by staying on an incompatible path would be suicide.
I think in the short term, the app compatability problem won't be an issue. But since Amazon is using a fork of Android, the two operating systems are going to take divergent paths in a few years. This isn't a device blessed by Mountain View, after all.

I think the fact that Anazon's built its own app store makes the Fire very attractive to develop for, not to mention the clout it has as a retailer). If any of the OEMs tried this, I don't think people would be paying as much attention -- not that I would be surprised if they did. 
+Tin Hoy Hu "Is this all making a moutain out of a molehill?" Well, yes. We're geeks. This is what we do!

Can I just say how much I love Google+? Great conversations are so rare on Facebook, and now, I can't even find them!
+Ryan Ozawa This conversation, no matter how "mole hilly" it is, is something I believe many of us have been lacking in the socialsphere -- flowing conversations. :)
Tin Hoy
+Wayne Akiyama That's certainly possible, however, there's also nothing preventing Amazon from reintegrating their changes into future android versions. Really depends on whether Amazon thinks it can thrive on an incompatible branch. Also, it'd work against Amazon's own efforts to grow their Amazon Appstore for Android (unless they give that a huge overhaul.)
The branching, though, is why I disagree with people who say "this is Windows versus Mac all over again." Yes, Apple is the only company that makes iOS hardware, and Android seemed to be on the Microsoft and Intel path of letting anyone license it, ultimately saturating the market. Sure, Dell and HP and Sony put their own crapware on top of Windows, but a Windows app was a Windows app.

Now you're going to end up with Android apps that are clearly relatives to each other, but often incompatible based on hardware. And again, there's "incompatible" across manufacturers, but there's "incompatible" even within one company's ecosystem, with this phone on Gingerbread and that one on Cupcake (or whatever), so one person gets the over-the-air update, someone else has to wait six months, and someone else is just stuck.

Amazon is big enough so that "Amazon Device" (forget "Android") is still a worthwhile and viable market. But as +Wayne Akiyama is saying, with all these little fiefdoms, the whole potential of Android to give Google trillions of beautiful user signals to serve ads against is fading, and having the vast majority of market share doesn't really mean anything remotely dominant in terms of a business.
What'll be interesting is what the OSes lifespans will be... With phones, it appears the lifespan is about the lifespan of the phone/device (like a couple of years or so?).

What prevents Google from those "trillions of beautiful user signals to serve ads?" Still too early to tell, but wouldn't an Amazon App Store app work on most Android devices (and vice versa)? Is it even a true fork or is it just a slick implementation with apps built by Amazon for it (and over it in the case of Silk)? Do we know if the apps are incompatible (on the same version of the OS)?
Good point. I would imagine Google still gets good signals simply because any Android user using the web or any app is often interacting with Google anyway -- Google is everywhere. But to "fork" Android, and not use official Google(tm) Android, hardware manufacturers have to do without OS-level integration for Gmail, Maps, etc., and those core services are where I always presumed Google got its best user data. Maybe not, though.
Makes you wonder... and with the current lawsuits against Facebook for tracking when people aren't logged into their platform, what does that mean for Google?

Thinking as I'm typing, would Google forcing their OS-level apps be a little too similar to Microsoft and IE?" It's integrated into the OS... you have to use it.
Tin Hoy
+Ryan Ozawa good point about the lack of the core services. Like the Nookcolor using the a B&N account, the Fire would be tied solely to the user's Amazon account -- no gmail needed. Wonder how far removed the initially-missing email functionality will be from stock gingerbread. Would Amazon be recreating much of the google-centric items?

Tangentially, how far would Amazon go to limit apps that are similar to Amazon services? It'd be mightily magnanimous (but highly doubtful) that they'd allow the likes of Netflix and Google music.
Perhaps I've missed it, but no one here has made note that the Fire only seems to support wi-fi. NO 3G (or 4G). Surely that will limit its audience & hobble it when compared to the iPad.

Personally, I have a 3rd gen Kindle & can't wait to buy the new Touch. Since day 1 with my Kindle, I've been complaining that it needed to have a touch screen interface. & I'll get the 3G version this time, so I don't have to hunt for an open wi-fi access point when I want to download a new book. (it's happened before)
Tin Hoy
Yes, the audience would be limited, but to say that it'll be hobbled? The wi-fi only iPad has the same limit, but I've yet to hear it described as hobbled. 
Perhaps "hobbled" isn't the right word. I'm assuming the main audience for a tablet would be someone who want to work / play on the go. Personally, there is rarely an open wifi hotspot available when I need one. Considering Amazon is pushing this as a cloud storage devices, it seems like it would be limiting for the consumer who's out & about with no internet access.

That's how I felt the last time I bought a new kindle book on my phone but couldn't download it to my (wifi) kindle due to lack of signal. 
I tend to think the opposite as I do have a MiFi and tethering from my mobile. I also believe that we'll see more WiFi implementations throughout the city, especially from the wired carriers, namely Oceanic.

To me, the cost of 3G/4G for another device is silly and as more individual devices have more cloud services it would make sense to be able to share the connection (hence the MiFi).

But great point and the Kindle Fire is missing a lot of other things you'll find on most tablets. I tend to think back to the point that it's a media consumption device for Amazon's library and less a tool to do other things.
Going to pop this one back up again for this article ('The Horror: Kindle Touch 3G Disables Web Browsing Over 3G' TechCrunch I didn't know the Kindle had 3G for 'free' rather than a monthly charge (why didn't anyone tell me that?!). Well, it looks like they're not going to continue that for a device that could conceivably use gobs of data and it highlights the point about having MiFi or other WiFi device rather than rely on a bunch of 3G/4G devices.
Yes, the 3G service on the kindle is "free". (supplemented by the price hike & additional impulse purchases) I do agree with the blurb you posted, the "experimental" browser & the resulting experience is horrible. I dabbled a bit on my wi-fi kindle "keyboard" & had no urge ever try again. So... the loss of browsing on the 3g touch is not huge.

Now, if they upgraded the browser to the new "silk" & then hobbled the signal, I might be calling foul. The kindle (keyboard & touch) are designed as consumption devices for relatively small media files. Note, the fire does not offer a 3G option at all, because it's designed as a media streaming device.
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