Amazon debuts new Kindles at aggressive prices

The company is heavily subsidizing its hardware with the goal of making more money on content.

By Kim Peterson Sep 6, 2012 3:36PM
Credit:, Inc.
Caption: Landscape view of the new Kindle Fire HD 8.9Amazon (AMZN) announced a new line of Kindles Thursday that undercuts competitors on price, and CEO Jeff Bezos was very clear about why.

"We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices," he told a crowd of journalists gathered for the company's product unveiling in Santa Monica, Calif.

To that end, the company announced new Kindles shipping for the holiday season that are very well priced, including a 7-inch high-definition Kindle Fire for $199. The tablet, which comes with 16 GB of storage, is a better deal than the Nexus 7 from Google (GOOG), which only gives 8 GB of storage for the same price.

Amazon also unveiled a larger, 8.9-inch Kindle Fire that costs $299 for 16 GB of storage. That's $200 less than the starting price for the iPad from Apple (AAPL). A $499 version of this larger Kindle Fire will come with 4G LTE wireless capability and twice the storage. The wireless plan will cost $50 for the first year.

Amazon upgraded the regular Kindle Fire with a faster processor and more memory, and cut the price to $159.

The company also announced a fifth-generation Kindle e-reader called the Kindle Paperwhite. The new device has 25% more contrast, Bezos said, making the whites look whiter and the blacks look blacker. Books looked more like a real printed page. Best of all, the Paperwhite is front-lit, so there's no longer a need to hook a reading light to the Kindle.

The Paperwhite will cost $119 for a Wifi-only version and $179 for a 3G version. Amazon is still keeping the previous Kindle, but has cut the price to $69 from $79. Those prices are for versions that show advertisements in the Kindle screensaver and at the bottom of the home page; versions without advertising will cost more.

Amazon also announced a slew of improvements to the Kindle Fire line. The new Kindle Fire units have dual stereo speakers and two antennas for better connections. A new "immersion reading" feature allows a person to read a book while listening to the audio version of the book at the same time. Parents can set strict usage time limits for their children.

We'll likely hear more from Apple next week about changes to its iPad line, but for now Amazon has clearly set itself apart from the tablet king by deeply subsidizing the price of its hardware in order to sell more content.

Amazon has made it easier than ever to buy books, magazines, movies, music and games on its Kindle devices. It stores your purchases online so they are accessible from anywhere. The company now sells more Kindle books than regular books, and no one would be surprised if Amazon eventually gave away its basic Kindle in hopes of boosting those sales.

Shareholders were pleased by the announcement, sending Amazon's stock price up 2% in afternoon trading Thursday to $251.07.

Here's a summary of Amazon's Kindle announcements:

Kindle Paperwhite
Improvements: 62% more pixels, 25% increased contrast. Built-in front light for reading in the dark. Eight weeks of battery life.
Features: A third of an inch thick. Weighs 7.5 ounces.
Price: $119 with ads displayed on the screensaver and at the bottom of the home screen, or $139 without advertising.
Available: Oct. 1

Kindle Paperwhite with 3G
Features: Free 3G plus Wi-fi
Price: $179 with ads displayed on the screensaver and at the bottom of the home screen, or $199 without advertising.
Available: Oct. 1

Improvements: New fonts, 15% faster page turns. Supports children's books and comics.
Features: Weighs 6 ounces.
Price: $69 with ads displayed on the screensaver and at the bottom of the home screen, or $89 without advertising.

Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE wireless

Size: 8.9 inches
Price: $499 for 32 GB, $599 for 64 GB. Requires an annual $50 fee for LTE data package.
Available: Nov. 20

Kindle Fire HD
Size: 8.9 inches
Features: Resolution of 1920x1200.
Price: $299 for 16 GB, $369 for 32 GB
Available: Nov. 20

Kindle Fire HD
Size: 7 inches
Features: Resolution of 1280x800
Price: $199 for 16 GB, $249 for 32 GB
Available: Sept. 14

Kindle Fire
Improvements: Faster processor, more memory
Price: $159 for 8 GB
Available: Sept. 14

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Sep 6, 2012 6:13PM
i wanted an ipad so bad, but the price is a bit much, so my wife got a kindle fire and i must say i dont really feel the need to get another tablet anytime soon. The K. Fire is pretty slick.  You can read on it, game on it, and stream netflix, and all that good stuff. its great
Sep 6, 2012 5:37PM
I own a Google Nexus 7 and have owned a iPad. Both offer advantages over each other but both have their limitations too. The iPad is heavier and bulky but has Apple's Apps store and its flawless IOS operating system. The Nexus 7 is much lighter, has decent hardware and is most certainly is lighter to hold and use.  The OS Android Jelly Bean is not as refined as Apple's IOS. But again the advantage goes to Nexus 7 for a $199 price point and now the same will be said of the smaller Kindle Fire. Not everyone including myself thinks with the iPad you get that much better of a experience for double the cost over a Nexus 7 or Kindle. If your looking for a second device and are not married to Apple's eco system. I would say either the Kindle Fire or the Nexus 7 is plenty enough of a tablet for many people.
Sep 6, 2012 4:46PM

angela - the article goes on to mention a few other improvements other than just extra storage:

"Amazon also announced a slew of improvements to the Kindle Fire line. The new Kindle Fire units have dual stereo speakers and two antennas for better connections. A new "immersion reading" feature allows a person to read a book while listening to the audio version of the book at the same time. Parents can set strict usage time limits for their children."

Sep 6, 2012 6:04PM
I dont feel so bad about having the "old" one now. The new ones dont really seem worth it.
Sep 6, 2012 5:36PM

Well I already have a fire and a kindle touch 3g. I use them a lot, especially the fire. While the new ones are very nice, I cant really justify buying one. They just aren't that much better than the ones I currently own.


If the new fire had gps so it could have improved mapping I would have gotten it. But it apparently doesnt. If either of them had a REAR facing camera I would have bought one. The front facing camera is useless to me since i have no desire to do any kind of face to face chat.


It may be that Kindles will prove to be the kind of products one buys every other one of its generations to get enough significant new features. It will be a pass for this years crop.

Sep 6, 2012 6:16PM
Are these made in the USA or China. Made in China, forget it, I'll do without.
Sep 10, 2012 1:13PM
The more they sell, the more they loose. Not very smart.
Sep 8, 2012 4:06AM
I love my Kindle Fire......I have read books, watched movies and played with all my apps....including rocks....
Sep 6, 2012 6:00PM
I was waiting for the Google Nexus to drop down to the MSRP, but maybe now I'll wait for this new Fire, although the price will probably be jacked up on them also.  Won't buy much content and will use primarily as a netbook alternative when traveling, so I'm not concerned that Amazon will try to make their money from selling that.    
Sep 7, 2012 4:03PM

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Sep 7, 2012 9:09AM

The Kindle fire is still fraught with issues.  I've had to change mine in i think this is the fourth time now because of the charging issues. 


If they've fixed that, great, but i'm not a whole lot interested in investing in this product again if they haven't fixed that problem.

Sep 6, 2012 5:19PM
The Barnes and Noble Nook versions beat Kindle to this a while ago.  I'm actually not really sure why Amazon is trying to compete with larger tablets (which are kind of unwieldly and aren't primarily used for reading by most people) when their biggest competitor is the Nook. After all, let's face it, the Sony e-reader, the Kobo, and the Pandigital aren't even in the picture anymore...
Sep 6, 2012 3:52PM

i'm a litle disappointed. i was for sure the newest version would have something different.

same price but more storage capacity. Does anyone ever use up thier capacity? wouldn't you just delete the old books and reload them when you want to read them again.


big bang for nothing.

Sep 6, 2012 5:14PM
So now you have to pay more to not have ads on the device that you're already going to buy? What kind of BS is that?! If I'm buying a reader for $120+ there shouldn't be any ads unless I use the internet and go to some third party website. Period. Amazon has been doing a lot of screwey things like this in the past few years.
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