Kindle Fire 2 Rumors have suddenly intensified – DigiTimes has leaked news of a manufacturing order for Kindle Fire 2 (link and details below). It even claims a Kindle Fire 2 release date of July 31st.
It certainly seems that Kindle Fire is about to see the arrival of its successor. There is no information about how many Kindle Fire 2 units have been ordered and no details on Kindle Fire 2 specifications.
Kindle Fire 2 – Pricing of $149 or $199?
There are mainly two schools of thought here:
- Cheaper Kindle Fire 2 fuelled by advertising revenue. Probability: Very High. We already know that Amazon either makes very little or takes a slight hit on each Kindle Fire sold. The strategy is to make money through content sales and through other purchases at Amazon. There are now rumors that Amazon is looking to extend the ‘Kindle with Special Offers’ model to Kindle Fire. Amazon has already tried advertising on the Kindle and found considerable success (it seems that way) using the ‘Kindle with Special Offers’ model. It makes sense for Amazon to try to extend that same model to Kindle Fire – rumors of a $149 Kindle Fire subsidized by ‘special offers’ can’t be dismissed lightly. The million dollar question is – How many people would be willing to have ads on their front screens in return for a $50 discount?
- $199 Kindle Fire 2 that offers increased value via improved hardware, improved software and new features. Probability: High. Amazon might follow a pricing strategy similar to the one employed by Apple for the iPad, i.e. stick to the Kindle Fire’s $199 price for Kindle Fire 2 but improve value for money by adding in features and making hardware/software improvements. It would then position the Kindle Fire 1 at $149 and try to get even more of the market.
Our thinking is that Amazon will go with –
- New $199 Kindle Fire 2.
- $149 Kindle Fire 1.
- $169 Kindle Fire 2 with Special Offers.
- $129 Kindle Fire 1 with Special Offers.
the sources expect Amazon to release a new 7-inch tablet PC with a screen resolution of 1280 by 800 and a price of US$199, in the third quarter, targeting the higher-end segment, while releasing another 7-inch model with similar specifications as the existing Kindle Fire, featuring a screen resolution of 1024 by 600 and a price of US$149.
DigiTimes also claims that Kindle Fire sold 4.5 to 5 million units in Q4, 2011 and then fell flat and sold only 700,000 to 800,000 units in Q1, 2012. Not the most easy-to-believe claim but it’s crazy enough to be true.
Kindle Fire 2 – Multiple Models
There are strong rumors that Amazon will release multiple versions of Kindle Fire 2. That it will target the low, mid and higher mid ends of the tablet market. Currently the main distinguishing features being discussed are screen size and resolution –
- $149 Kindle Fire 2 Economy Model. 7″ screen with 1024 x 600 pixels screen resolution. These are the exact same specifications as for the current Kindle Fire. Amazon could either keep selling Kindle Fire 1 at $149 and use that to corner the lower end of the tablet market, or it could release a brand new low-priced Kindle Fire 2 Economy Model.
- $199 Kindle Fire 2. 7″ screen with 1280 x 800 pixels screen resolution. This would be an improved version of the current Kindle Fire. Improvements might include an improved processor, greater internal memory, Bluetooth, a new version of the silk browser, more and better in-built apps, addition of a camera to the device, and more. With the feature-rich Google Nexus 7 Tablet at $199, Amazon will have to make a lot of improvements to stay competitive. It will also have to do this without increasing the price of the Kindle Fire 2 above $199.
- $299 Kindle Fire 2 Large Screen. 10.1″ screen with 1920 x 1200 pixels screen resolution. This tablet would only be competitive if it undercut the iPad significantly on price while maintaining a good feature set. Thus it would have to include an improved processor, greater internal memory, more and better in-built apps, and lots of improvements. Amazon would also have to build up its App store significantly (Apple has over 225,000 apps, Amazon only has 31,000). Improvements like the keyboard cover from Microsoft, a memory card slot, improved Wi-Fi, etc. would also be helpful.
This approach ($149 low-end Tablet, $199 Kindle Fire 2 for the mid end, $299 Kindle Fire XL) might work very well.
DigiTimes again has the most interesting Kindle Fire rumors and claims that Amazon is focusing on a 10.1″ Kindle Fire for end of 2012 or early 2013 –
Amazon is also said planning 8.9-inch and 10.1-inch models; however, the latest information shows that the company has already halted the development of the 8.9-inch model with the 10.1-inch set to be released in the fourth quarter of 2012 or the first quarter of 2013.
It makes sense for Amazon to focus on one screen size out of 8.9″ and 10.1″ and not spread itself too thin. DigiTimes is probably correct.
Kindle Fire 2 – Our Features Wish List
Kindle Fire 2 rumors only mention an in-built Camera and physical volume control buttons (thank God!). There are no other details available. Here’s our wish list for Kindle Fire 2 features wish list:
- Screen Size: Kindle Fire’s 7 inch screen actually adds to its ease of use. The 7″ screen makes it a device that can be operated one-handed. For me, increasing screen size alone will not be an improvement. So Amazon really should keep one or more 7″ Kindle Fires.
- Screen Resolution: Amazon needs to improve its resolution to at least 1280 x 800 to make it competitive against the Google Nexus 7 Tablet. Improved screen resolution will also be important to provide a better experience with surfing the web, watching movies, and looking at photos.
- OS: The current, heavily skinned version of Android will need an update. Maybe one built on the latest Android Jelly Bean OS.
- Browser: The Silk browser is hampered by the “Cloud Acceleration” feature. Instead of improving its performance Cloud Deceleration slow down browsing speed as much as 25%. A fix for this would be welcome.
- Connectivity and Storage: A MicroSD card slot would be a very welcome addition.
- Configurability: A choice of Tablets (2 or 3 different options) with variations in screen size, resolution, and internal memory would be a good idea.
- Memory: Having a choice of internal memory would be nice (perhaps keeping the starting point at the current 8GB). A MicroSD card slot would give Kindle Fire 2 a big advantage over the Google Tablet.
- Apps Ecosystem: Amazon needs to seriously improve its app marketplace if it is to compete with the likes of Apple and Microsoft and Google. This is especially important as the Android app market for tablets is quite limited and this is an area where Kindle Fire 2 could build up a big advantage over other Android Tablets.
- Amazon Prime: 2 of the 3 benefits of Amazon Prime, the free book loan each month and the free video streaming, are seriously hampered by the very limited library. The remaining advantage, free 2-day shipping, is a very big one. Increasing the online library of e-books and videos would go a long way in increase uptake for this service. The other way to go would be to do very attractive special offers on other content for Amazon Prime customers.
- Amazon Cloud: Increased storage space for music (currently 5GB) would be a welcome addition.
- Camera: I personally don’t see the point of having a cameras in a tablet. Perhaps there’s enough demand.
- Bluetooth: This is one of those technologies that seems to have been very fashionable at one point of time but didn’t quite take off the way it was supposed to. That being said, most devices (smartphones, laptops etc.) have Bluetooth and adding it to the Kindle Fire 2 would be a plus.
- Keyboard: Is this feature worth the weight and cost it adds? Probably not for a 7″ Tablet.
- Pen: Again, a good to have feature but I wouldn’t pay much more to have one.
- Cover and Stand: Always a good to have, especially for higher end tablets with larger screens where you might want to stream videos and watch them without holding the device the whole time. For a 7″ Tablet – not a big deal unless you can do a Surface RT type built-in kick-stand.
It’s going to be interesting to see what the Kindle Fire 2 brings to the table and when it arrives. Microsoft raised the bar but failed to reveal a launch date or price. Google’s Tablet has a firm release date and a super-impressive price of $209 (especially for the feature set). Now it’s up to Amazon to deliver a Kindle Fire 2 that keeps Kindle Fire competitive in the all-new Tablet Wars.