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Click to see the tour!Click on the thumbnail photo to see the article "Amazon Kindle Fire: Visual Tour." Now that Amazon has thrown its hat in the ring - I should say its four hats - the tablet scene has become a feeding frenzy. Not only has the Amazon Kindle Fire at $199 undercut the Barnes & Noble "Nook" Android tablet by $50, Amazon is also bringing three more Kindles to market - the $79 non-touch Kindle Wi-Fi, the $99 Kindle Touch Wi-Fi, and the $149 Kindle Touch 3G: see "Kindle Fire: 95,000 Orders On Day One." Add to that the 25,000 orders for the other three new Kindles, and it comes to 120,000 units sold on pre-order in one day, and shows what people want most: a full-fledged tablet, not just an e-reader.

This doesn't quite match Apple's iPad sales of 300,000 on the first day, but it's a respectable number. The big difference is the price: Apple's iPad2 is about $500, compared to $200 for the Kindle Fire. Many folks that can't pop $500 for an iPad can drop $200 for an aFire. What virtually guarantees the Kindle Fire's success is that its customized Android OS is closely tied into Amazon's e-book sales, Amazon's AppStore, Amazon's MP3 music store, Amazon's Cloud Drive and everything else Amazon sells. The profit margin on the device itself is slim to none, but Amazon will make up for it by all the sales it makes on all its other goodies.

Democracy can only survive until the people find their way to the public purse. - Plato
Socialism can only survive until it finally runs out of other people's money. - M. Thatcher

This low price point confirms what I wrote two issues ago: tablet prices are dropping fast. in "RIM says remains committed to PlayBook tablet" RIM promises not to exit the market like HP did when its tablet bombed, and has dropped its BlackBerry PlayBook prices by $200. (Amazon may scoop up HP's WebOS business: "Palm on Amazon's own wish list, report says.") Sooner rather than later, though, people will catch on that they can buy a generic Android tablet for the same price as the aFire, but without being force-fed at Amazon's trough. Who wants to feel like a cow that Amazon can milk any time you turn on your tablet? And when you see that you can buy a "real" printed book from Amazon cheaper than the same book in electronic format, you begin to wonder: why does the e-book cost so much if there's virtually no overhead cost for paper, printing, warehousing and distributing it, and no risk of unsold copies that bookstores return? Answer: lots of money in Amazon's pockets. So I predict that the aFire's low price point is just the start of a "Tablet Feeding Frenzy."

Samsung has just announced its "Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus official with HSPA+" (that HSPA+ is tech jargon for a type of 4G (4th generation) Internet access, roughly ten times faster than 3G). This device also has front and back cameras, which the aFire lacks. So the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 is a video communication device - a tiny tablet or an oversized smartphone - that you can use wherever you go, not just tethered to a Wi-Fi hotspot. The Tab 7.0's price is yet unannounced, but you can bet that with the aFire's low price Samsung will have to compete on price. And it's 4G, not 3G like the iPad. To me, it makes absolutely no sense to invest right now in any smartphone or tablet that isn't 4G: wait 'til the market settles down with a good supply of 4G devices, so prices will be reasonable.

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An underlying issue is the question of Internet access: why is the U.S. so far behind Sweden, Great Britain, South Korea and even Russia, Portugal and Italy in the availability of Internet access at a reasonable price? See "Why is European broadband faster and cheaper? Blame the government." The answer, pure and simple, is lack of competition. While living in Moscow, Russia up to four years ago, my $6-per-month Russian DSL was faster than my current $40-per-month DSL from AT&T. Many countries are also ahead of the U.S. in the adoption of ultra-fast 4G wireless technology. All the slickest, newest 4G tablets and smartphones aren't much good unless we have an affordable wireless infrastructure they can run on.

One last point: several recent news articles have been trumpeting "the death of the PC." Pure nonsense! Authors of news articles have to write sensational headlines to get your attention. Yes, those people who today use PCs and Macs simply to surf the Web, watch videos, listen to music and occasionally write an email message or two might find a tablet or smartphone more to their liking. But keep in mind that tablets and smartphones are designed for consuming information, and PCs are designed for producing information. It gets really tedious real fast trying to type for an extended time using an on-screen keyboard or a tiny keypad. PCs, Macs and notebooks will be around for a long time yet.

The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!

Best regards,

"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"

Robert D hoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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