Bezos also took the opportunity to show off a new line of Kindle e-readers with black-and-white screens and lower prices, further pressuring competitors like Barnes & Noble Inc. that are trying to break Amazon.com Inc.'s dominance in electronic book sales.
The Kindle Fire will go on sale Nov. 15. It's about half the size of the iPad, making it a close match with Barnes & Noble's Nook Color tablet, which came out last year. But while Barnes & Noble sees the Nook Color as jazzed-up e-reader, Amazon has broader goals for the Fire, as a platform for games, movies, music and other applications.
Even before its release, the Kindle Fire was heralded as a worthy competitor to Apple's iPad. Amazon is nearly unique in its ability to sell content such as e-books, movies and music suited for a tablet — just like Apple Inc. does.
Still, competing with Apple won't be easy. Many have tried to copy the iPad's success, but it remains the overwhelming front-runner in the tablet computer category. Apple sold 28.7 million of them from April 2010 to June 2011. Analysts at research firm Gartner Inc. expect the iPad to account for three out of four tablet sales this year.
"Some of the companies that have made tablets and put them on the market ... the reason they haven't been successful is because they made tablets. They didn't make services," Bezos said in an interview. "So what we've done is really integrate seamlessly all of our media offerings — video, movies, TV, apps, games, magazines, games and so on."
Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps said selling all that content makes the Fire is the only credible competitor to the iPad this year.
"In theory, Sony could do something similar, but they haven't, and it doesn't look like they will. They have a tablet, but they only went halfway on the services," she said.
Analysts had expected the Fire to go on sale for about $250. Epps called the $199 price "jaw-droppingly low," and said it would introduce tough competition not just for Apple, but for contending tablet makers like Samsung Electronics Co., Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and HTC Corp.
Analysts had speculated Amazon would subsidize the tablet, counting on making back some money through book and movie sales. But Bezos said the company is content with a slim profit margin.
"We want the hardware device to be profitable and the content to be profitable. We really don't want to subsidize one with the other," Bezos said in the interview on the sidelines of the New York press event.
Epps believes Amazon will sell 3 million to 5 million Fires before the end of the year, but the late shipping date will probably skew the figure to the lower end of the range, she said.
The Fire runs a version of Google Inc.'s Android software, used by other iPad wannabes, and will have access to applications through Amazon's Android store. It lacks the cameras sported by practically every competing tablet. It also lacks a slot for memory expansion, a common feature on other Android tablets.
Amazon's cheapest new Kindle will cost $79, and dispenses with the keyboard the Kindles have carried since the first model launched in 2007.
For $99, Amazon is also bringing out the first black-and-white Kindle with a touch screen; it's reminiscent of Barnes & Noble's latest Nook. A version with access to AT&T's cellular network will cost $149. Versions without advertising cost an extra $30 to $40. Bezos said the models subsidized by advertising have been the most popular.
Previously, the cheapest Kindle cost $114, with advertising. That price was reduced Wednesday to $99.
Bezos said he doesn't see the Fire as eventually replacing the Kindles.
"What will happen is people will buy both. Because they're really for different purposes ... For people who are into reading, it makes sense to have a device that's purpose-built," he said.
아마존, 199달러 태블릿PC '킨들 파이어' 발표
"애플 아이패드 아성에 강력한 도전될 듯"
온라인 유통업계의 강자 아마존닷컴은 28일(현지시간) 애플 아이패드의 아성에 도전하기 위해 파격적인 가격의 태블릿PC '킨들 파이어(Kindle Fire)'를 선보였다.
아마존의 최고경영자(CEO) 제프 베조스는 이날 오전 뉴욕에서 '킨들 파이어' 발표회를 열어 구글의 안드로이드 운영체제(OS)로 구동되는 이 7인치 태블릿PC를 199달러에 판매한다고 발표했다.
이 태블릿PC의 가격은 애플의 아이패드의 가격이 499달러에서부터 시작되는 점을 감안하면 절반이하로, 특히 시장 애널리스트들이 그동안 이 태블릿PC의 가격이 249달러가 될 것으로 예상했던 것에 비해서도 매우 낮게 책정된 것으로 평가됐다.
이에 따라 시장 안팎에서는 '킨들 파이어'가 태블릿PC시장에서 그동안 압도적인 우위를 점하고 있는 애플의 아이패드에 강력한 도전이 될 것으로 분석됐다.
이날부터 사전예약을 받아 다음달 15일부터 판매되는 '킨들 파이어'는 듀얼코어 프로세서를 장착하고 아마존의 클라우드 스토리지를 무료로 사용할 수 있다고 베조스는 설명했다.
'킨들 파이어'는 그러나 와이파이망에 접속할 수는 있지만 3G로는 연결할 수 없고, 카메라도 장착돼 있지 않은 등 기술적인 제약이 있는데다 선택할 수 있는 애플리케이션도 제한적이어서 성공 가능성은 아직 미지수인 것으로 평가됐다.
재니캐피털마켓의 애널리스트 숀 미른은 그러나 월스트리트저널에 4분기에 200만∼300만대 정도가 판매될 것으로 전망했으며 내년 초 10인치 스크린을 가진 제품이 출시될 것으로 예상했다.
아마존은 이와 함께 터치스크린이 가능한 흑백 '킨들 터치' 와이파이 버전을 99달러(3G버전 149달러)에 선보이고 이날부터 사전예약을 받아 다음달 21일 출시한다고 밝혔다.
터치 스크린 기능이 없는 킨들 제품은 79달러이며 이날부터 판매된다고 아마존은 덧붙였다. (연합뉴스)