(WICHITA, Kan.) — This week, Amazon officially entered the tablet market by announcing that the Kindle Fire will be available in time for Christmas. It's an ebook and emagazine reader, a media player, a web browser and it runs on Android. It's cheaper than most other tablets, $199, and is smaller than the iPad at 7". It also comes with a free month of Amazon Prime, which allows users to stream TV shows and movies and get free shipping on certain products.
There's no doubt in my mind that this device will be extremely popular, and will help increase the popularity of Amazon Prime. But the big question is if this device will unseat the popular Apple iPad. In my opinion, the only way that will happen is if Apple does not release a new line of tablet devices.
It appears that Amazon is trying to become a brand name, like Apple or Google. Amazon currently is offering cloud computing space on its servers, much like Apple and Google. Amazon offers digital downloads, much like Apple and Google, and it appears that Amazon wants to be the center of your digital life, like Apple and Google.
So, you're probably asking yourself which tablet is right for you? If price is your driving factor, the Kindle Fire is pretty hard to beat. If you're an Apple fanatic, and have already decided that Apple is going to be the end all and be off of your digital life, then stick with the iPad. Personally, I have yet to get into the tablet market, mostly because I can't afford to buy one at the moment. However, I do know that Amazon has a Kindle app available for both the iPhone and the iPad allowing users to read ebooks on both devices. There's also an Kindle app available for computer desktops so you can read books there as well.
The other question you have to ask yourself is if you're more inclined to go for Android or iOS. Android is the operating system designed by Google for cell phones and tablets. Apple's operating system for the iPhone and the iPad is called iOS. Both work great, and both are quite user friendly. I'm not going to endorse one or the other on this forum. However, I will say that tablets are only as good as the apps that are available for them.
When I wrote about the HP Touchpad, I said that buying one isn't a good buy because of the lack of apps available for its webOS, despite the fact that it cost $99. But since I wrote that, it's come out that programmers are figuring out how to load Android onto it. Another reader also wrote that this low price will drive the price of tablets down. Apparently, Amazon took notice. If Apple does too, well, we wait with baited breath.