Amazon Will Ship Three Kindle Fire HD Tablets, Including $499 4G With $50/Year Data Plan


The theme of Amazon's Thursday afternoon press conference in Santa Monica was not so much the device particulars as ceo Jeff Bezos's revised explanation of their goal and purpose: "People don't want gadgets anymore. They want services. They want services that improve over time." And "Kindle Fire is a service." Bezos also explained, "We want to make money when people USE our devices, not when they BUY our devices. That is better alignment." (Last year's opening pitch for Kindle Fire was that "what we're doing is making premium products and offering them at non-premium prices.") The new mantra translates into modestly lower device prices, the quiet inclusion of ads or "special offers" across the Kindle Fire line, and a value data package.

As expected, Amazon has a front-lit model of their own--the leaked Kindle Paperwhite--set to ship on October 1, with a wi-fi model retailing at $119  and a 3G version at $179, both with ads. (The no-ad wi-fi and 3G versions will sell for $139 and $199 respectively.)  Each of the Paperwhite models has a battery life of 8 weeks with the light on (so long as you read only a half-hour per day on average.) The budget Kindle will be refreshed slightly and priced a little more cheaply at $69 with Special Offers ($89 without them.)
Amazon made a bigger splash on the tablet front, adding three new tablets under the Kindle Fire HD banner, while dropping the price of the current 8 GB Kindle Fire to $159.  The 7" HD tablet is $199 for 16 GB or $249 for 32 GB. A new bigger 8.9-inch sibling comes in a 16 GB Wi-Fi model, selling for $299, as well as a 32 GB model, selling for $369  and a 4G LTE Wireless model that sells for $499 (at 32 GB) or $599 (at 64 GB). All the 8.9" tablets are set to ship November 20.

The more surprising development was that Amazon's top-line tablet will come with an annual data plan of $49.99, which would include 250 MB of data per month, 20 GB of cloud storage, and a $10 Amazon appstore credit. Amazon did not announce any data plans for those who use more than 250 MB, which is fairly low considering the Fire tablets are so concerned with offering games, video, movies, and other bandwidth-heavy media. And as for bandwidth, Bezos touted that the Fire tablets will operate on a 5 GHz Wi-Fi band because the 2.5 GHz band that tablets normally use is "too crowded."

Bezos also announced several software updates and features to the Kindle Fire operating system. The X-Ray service, previously offered on a limited basis for Kindle Touch and Fire, will now be applied to movies, where customers will be able to access additional information, like the cast and crew (with the help of the Amazon-owned IMDB, which will supply this info.) FreeTime is a feature that enables parents to set time and content limits on what their children can use on the device, with multiple accounts that can be set up for multiple kids. The Fire will also include an updated email client which apparently is supposed to function properly.

Separately, the Kindle Fire and 7" HD models will be sold in the UK -- and at Waterstones -- as of October 25, the first time tablets have been made available outside the US. The 8GB Fire model will cost £129 while the Fire HD will be priced at £159.

And from Digital Book World