The specifications on the device are impressive, and the price is great. I withhold judgement on the form factor until I can get my hands on one. I've never had a great experience with a 7" tablet so far, but I'm interested to see what 8.9" is like compared to 9.7" in terms of usability on a touch screen.
More concerning is the tool set for developers when creating Kindle apps. The diversity of the Android product ecosystem means that developers can't make the same assumptions about display resolutions on these devices that they can make on iOS. The result is that Android apps are often blurry, pixelated or scaled oddly. I don't see how the Kindle Fire HD does anything but contribute to this problem. This is not a purely aesthetic issue. App usability can suffer as UI elements are dynamically resized in ways the developer could not predict.
The most interesting thing to me is the pricing for the 4G LTE equipped Kindle Fire HD.: $499. This is a larger price increase that you would see on the iPad, but the data plan for the Kindle Fire HD is $49 a year. Now that's only for 250 MB per month, but the same plan on an iPad is $15 a month. If you restrict media streaming to WiFi networks, 250 MB per month is not an unreasonable amount of data for many people.
As usual, Amazon is working to disrupt the revenue model of their competitors and suppliers. I'm not sure how they convinced a carrier partner to go along with this–it could affect consumer's psychological evaluation of data pricing.
I hope the Kindle Fire HD succeeds. I can't see giving up my iPad, but for people who are mainly looking for web browsing and content consumption the Kindle Fire HD seems to be a credible alternative.
FreeTime and X-Ray
Perhaps more than any other device, tablets get handed around the family. Children are drawn to the touch interaction model. There are many quality educational and game app available for both iOS and Android. While iOS offers good parental controls, enabling and disabling them is not easy. Apple's subtext is clear: use one device per family member.
Amazon is adding user profiles and corresponding parental controls to the Fire. The idea is to make it easy to pass a device around the household, and make sure that all the apps and media are age-appropriate. Amazon also wants to make this intuitive. Based on the number of calls I get, it is neither obvious nor intuitive. to setup individual iCloud accounts with shared store accounts across iOS devices. Many families will be won over if Amazon nails this.
Amazon also added a technology called X-Ray designed to help you discover new content, easily. One of my my gripes with Amazon is discovery. It's easy to order something from Amazon if you know what you want, but traditional retailers offer a much better browsing experience. The write ups on Xray don't tell me much, so I'm looking forward to seeing this in action.
I wish more device makers would emulate Amazon's approach to the post PC market. Amazon is going after the value segment without trying to copy Apple's work. Microsoft is similarly original, but so far they haven't had the same success in the market place. I hope the new Kindles inspire some of the Android partners to break new ground an innovate for their customers. Nicely done, Amazon.
Finally, here are some spots released by Amazon to promote their new products.