Sandy Berger: Amazon, Apple Add to Their Ecosystems
During the past few weeks, two large companies, Amazon and Apple, have announced new products that might have seemed fairly innocuous.
Yet these new devices, along with their new software, are sure to be game-changers in the whirling world of technology.
Amazon has lowered prices and introduced several new Kindle e-book readers. The Kindle that Amazon has been selling for $114 will now be $99. That Kindle has a gray scale screen and a built-in keyboard.
It also has Amazon’s special offers, which are ads that appear in certain areas, but do not interfere with the text when you are reading.
Amazon will now also have a $79 Kindle, which is basically the same, but without the keyboard. It will have a four-way navigation pad and an on-screen keyboard. A new Kindle Touch, with a touch screen and Wi-Fi, will sell for $99, with special offers.
3G versions of the Kindle Touch and Kindle with keyboard will also be available for an additional cost of $40 or $50, depending on the model. All of these have black and white screens, which I find excellent for “easy-on-your-eyes” reading.
The most exciting news from Amazon, however, is in the tablet department, where it announced a new tablet called the Amazon Fire. It will sell for $199. It has a 7-inch color touch screen, runs a version of the Android operating system that has been customized by Amazon and will access the Internet via Wi-Fi.
It will run Silk, a special Web browser that was developed by Amazon. The Fire, like other tablets, will also be able to function as an e-book reader. In addition to its enormous selection of e-books, Amazon has developed its own Android app store and a streaming movie service to provide additional content for this new tablet.
In the meantime, Apple announced a new version of its popular iPhone. Apple labeled it the iPhone 4S. It will have the same basic look and feel, with the same screen as the iPhone 4. Apple has improved the speed, the battery life and cameras.
The 4S was all a pretty big yawn for Apple fans who were looking for some spectacular announcement. But hidden in the uninspired features for the iPhone 4S is something that is poised to be pretty dynamic.
Apple has totally revised its operating system software with a version called iOS 5. Apple has revamped just about everything in this operating system, including the navigation, email, photo handling and calendar. It has also added Siri, a personal assistant that follows verbal commands.
This new operating system will be included with the 4S phones when they ship Oct. 14. It will also be available as an upgrade for the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4, third- and fourth-generation iTouches and iPad 1 and iPad 2.
Although all of the functionality of iOS 5 may not be available on older devices, most of it will, and it should be an excellent upgrade. This upgrade is available as a free download from the Apple website and should be available today. If you own one of the Apple devices that will run iOS 5, you will definitely want to upgrade.
Although these new products by Apple and Amazon may seem unrelated, they are all geared toward getting you to buy into either the Apple or the Amazon ecosystem. After all, whether you will be buying books, music, apps and/or videos, you will most probably be purchasing them from the company that created the device you will run them on — in this case, either Apple or Amazon.
They are the two companies to watch as they battle it out in the tablet arena. Even if the Amazon Fire software turns out to be sensational, the Fire will not be an iPad killer. It is smaller, has no camera or microphone and can only connect through Wi-Fi (no cellular connection). Yet at $199, it will appeal to many tablet buyers who don’t want to shell out $499 or more for an iPad.
Amazon is subsidizing the Fire, assuming that it will get more Amazon customers. I hope it does, as it would be nice for this competition to force Apple to lower its iPad prices. I’ll be buying a Fire on Nov. 15, when it debuts. How about you?
Contact Sandy Berger at email@example.com.
More like this story