[Updated Sept. 30, 5:15am: more on cloud browsing]
The Amazon Kindle Fire tablet is coming; how do the reviews read? As expected, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has launched its tablet: Time for a roundup of reviews and reactions, IT Blogwatch-style, as bloggers ponder the $199 Android tablet that hides Android.
Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: The "exciting" world of cross-forest dogfood...
Agam Shah and Nancy Weil report:
The Kindle Fire is available for preorder starting Wednesday, and it will begin shipping on Nov. 15. "This is unbelievable value," said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. ... The display can show 16 million colors and [has] Gorilla Glass technology for extra protection. TI's dual-core OMAP processor is based on an ARM processor design.
...Amazon offers 100,000 movies and TV shows through its instant streaming service. ... Amazon offers 950,000 e-books...through the Kindle Cloud service. Amazon also offers the Cloud Drive...to store music, videos, photos or documents, and the Cloud Player music streaming service.
Jared Newman adds:
The pricing alone is sure to spook both Apple and Barnes & Noble. ... [I]t's meant to be a dead-simple slate for consuming Amazon content. ... Amazon made no mention of Google services, so don't expect Google Maps or the Android Market...it uses a heavily modified version of [Android] that focuses more on simplicity than on advanced features.
...[It] uses a new browser called "Amazon Silk," which taps Amazon's cloud computing services to render pages faster. ... For each page request, Silk divvies up the work between the tablet and the cloud [for] quicker page loads.
JR Raphael tells it like it is:
Amazon's Kindle Fire may be based on Android, but it is not an "Android tablet". ... If you're expecting the full-fledged tablet experience, you may be in for a disappointment. ... You won't even recognize the interface.
[A]pp purchases go through Amazon's own Android app store, which has a far more limited selection. ... [Y]ou won't have the customizable home screen with widgets, live wallpapers [etc.] ... It's possible the Android hacking community will come up with a way to root the tablet...so we could conceivably see custom ROMs.
...[It] doesn't have a camera or microphone -- so no video chat -- and doesn't have 3G connectivity or GPS functionality. ... Ultimately, it's a media consumption slate that also runs some apps and has a Web browser...[it] may be an interesting new option. But [not] if you want the kind of experience and versatility you see on other tablets.
Apple employee #8, Chris Espinosa, is "fascinated":
Lost in the Is it an iPad Killer? hype is the audacious introduction of the Silk browser. ... Amazon is performing astonishing jujitsu on Google.
Amazon will use its EC2 back end to pre-cache user web browsing. ... Amazon will capture and control every Web transaction performed by Fire users...intermediated by one of the largest server farms on the planet. ... Amazon now [knows] what other stores your customers are shopping in and what prices theyre being offered.
...Fire isnt a noun, its a verb, and its what Amazon has done in the targeted direction of Google.
Ross Dawson analyses the accusation, comparing Silk with Opera:
While Amazon is generally viewed somewhat less negatively than Facebook and Google on privacy, that may change. ... [W]hatever Amazons motives...there is likely to be pushback if Amazon overuses the browsing data it is gathering.
Opera...it is a publicly listed company, and presumably its shareholders want it to make money [so] it may need to look at the full commercial potential of the data it is gathering.
...[T]he mobile browser landscape is getting increasingly diverse. ... How this relates to gathering consumer data and monetizing it...will be one of the biggest spaces to watch in coming months and years.
And Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is apoplectic:
And to think I was worried because Facebook was tracking you...whenever you were on a site with a Facebook like button! ... When youll be using your Kindle Fire...everything you do on the Web will be made part of your permanent record.
...And, all you have to [do] is to let Amazon see every site you visit...and watch over your every move. What a deal! ... If youre concerned with online privacy, I simply wouldnt use [it] in its full mode. To Amazons credit, you can opt out...but maybe its just me, but Id preferred it if [it was] off by default.
Meanwhile, Sarah Rotman Epps outlines the pros and cons:
Amazon is overcoming challenges to supply, channel, and partnerships. ... Kindle VP Dave Limp says theyre making millions, which is good, because thats how many we expect them to sell. ... [Amazon] will be selling the Kindle Fire at its retail partners...in addition to Amazon.com. ... Amazon [has] overcome the challenges of co-branding with Google/Android...by not including any Google or Android branding whatsoever.
...[But] Amazon still lacks a convincing global strategy. ... At launch, the Kindle Fire will only be available in the US. ... 50% of iPad sales in 2011 are outside the US.
The "exciting" world of cross-forest dogfood
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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. He's the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch -- for which he has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards on behalf of Computerworld. He also writes The Long View for IDG Enterprise. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: email@example.com. You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.