News from Amazon is the expected iPad competitor, the color Amazon Kindle Fire. Funny name, but eh… Kindle a Fire… geddit? That has to be the naffest name for a corporate product since Chrysler car names – a small sporty car is called the Crossfire as in
“Chrysler’s hot new sports coupe, the Crossfire, has a name that does justice to the car’s edgy, explosive looks”
– in some parallel universe that is.
Anyway back to the Kindle Fire, it looks very good, is cheap, cheerful, and will knock a lot of iPad sales. The iPad is expensive and many people don’t buy in to the Apple DRM (digital rights management) experience. The Kindle Fire uses a custom Amazon browser, the Amazon Silk browser (is that to contrast with Google Chrome?). It uses Amazon’s cloud storage for backups, and Whispernet for delivery. In all these respects it can outperform Apple and also come in a lot cheaper. Will the Silk browser be available on the web as another browser? Don’t know yet.
The Fire will deliver color magazine content with news, sports, films, etc, plus advertising. It is a tablet rather than an ereader… so it will be interesting to see how that works out, given the current user base of the Kindle. One assumes a big take-up.
The Silk browser uses a lot of cloud computing concepts to prepare content for delivery (ie, caching, reducing file size by compression, and presumably custom content). This is creating another ‘walled garden‘. So does all this indicate the fracturing of the internet and web into many separate competing technologies and ecology?
We already have Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Apple producing app ecologies. These are all different as this is quite natural commercial activity, which tends towards segregation of core audiences. A lot of standards-based tech, but with a lot of proprietary tech mixed in – just enough to divide and rule.
This means developers have to produce for Apple OS, Android, HTML/CSS/JS etc Web OS (I mean the Web operating system, the ‘web as in HTTP’ rather than the defunct HP system) (for browsers) and Silk format; for desktop, Windows, Apple Universal and (possibly) Linux. This is going back to the old format wars. Software companies now have to develop many different versions of the same app, which is going against basic web internet principles. I suppose the argument is that tablets are not the web, it just uses the internet for delivery. For optimized apps, developers will have to use specific localized proprietary systems.
The use of HTML5 will be used to try and circumvent all this, but has a performance overhead.
Pricing and marketing
The Kindle Fire will retail at an amazing $199. There is also a Kindle Touch, with a touchscreen, so you page turn by tapping, which is easier than the little button it has now, and no keyboard, as with all this tech, the fewer button or keys the cheaper it is to manufacture. A lower price basic Kindle is also due out at 79$, and a sponsored with advertising version, at an even lower price. Eventually (sooner than you think) there will a free tablet ereader with live content, given away at train stations and malls. Compare this to Apple’s chase for the high end consumer and haute design.
We will be getting a Kindle Fire and testing it when they are available here in November.
Here at Story Software, we are nearly launching our Story Live online version of the multiple box editor. This is in standard web technologies so we can deliver it anywhere. The Story Live system allows editing online, for saving in Story format (.sto), rtf and text. We are planning some sort of ebook publishing system off Story Turbo, the new upgrade version of the desktop application. All this is due November 2011.