Kindle Fire makes waves with low ebook price

The Kindle Fire is shown at a news conference, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011 in New York. The e-reader and tablet has a 7-inch (17.78 cm) multicolor touchscreen and will go on sale for $199 on Nov. 15. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

September 28, 2011 11:18:47 PM PDT
Four years ago, Amazon's Kindle set the market for e-books ablaze, but then came Apple's iPad, among others. Now Amazon is launching a new device it hopes will shake up the competition. ABC7 looks into what makes this gizmo different.

There's nothing earth-shattering about the specs of Amazon's new tablet. They say it has a fast dual core processor, it's light, easy to hold in one hand, and at seven inches, it's smaller and lighter than the iPad. It is also tied into Amazon's vast library of books and video.

Still, there's one feature of the Kindle Fire tablet that's making serious waves -- the price at $199.

"I think $199 really surprised everyone," said CNET senior editor Brian Tong.

It's not even out yet, and already, the Kindle Fire is the cheapest tablet on the market, except for HP's touchpad, which the company marked down to $99 when they discontinued it.

"When the touchpad went on this fire sale for $99, people picked it up in masses. There were lines outside of Best Buys and other retailers and what that really told us more than anything is people want tablets, but they want it at a lower price point," said Tong.

Tong says Amazon is almost certainly selling the Kindle Fire at a loss, planning to make up the difference with the books and movies users will undoubtedly buy. And Amazon will have tight control over who they buy them from.

"Amazon has their own Android app store, Amazon has their own media delivery system, I wouldn't be surprised if things like Hulu and Netflix are left out of the equation because they're trying to keep everyone in their ecosystem," said Tong.

Priced at less than half the cheapest iPad, the Kindle Fire is turning some heads in Downtown San Francisco. Regardless, there are those shoppers who say if it doesn't have an apple on it, they're just not interested.

"Seems like a pretty good price. That said, I'm a Mac guy," said Patrick Goggin.

Goggin has no regrets about his iPad. Unlike Amazon's tablet, the iPad has 3G wireless, a camera and a microphone. Amazon's betting most users won't care when they see the price.

"For $200, can't go wrong with that -- just go online, just have some fun with it," said shopper Danny Lau. When asked if he cared that the Kindle Fire was missing the camera and the microphone, he said, "Nah, don't need that, just use the iPhone."

Amazon plans to release the Kindle Fire on Nov. 15.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also showed off three new black-and-white Kindle models, including its cheapest one ever at $79. A touch screen model will cost $99, and one with cellular network access will cost $149.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.