PITTSBURGH (CBS) — Amazon is raising the stakes in the high-tech wars. The company is introducing a new tablet computer, which could give Apple some serious competition.
Amazon took the wraps off its latest gadget today when CEO Jeff Bezos introduced it as a hot new contender in the tablet wars.
“It’s called Kindle Fire,” said Bezos. “It’s light, easy to hold in one hand, 14.6 ounces.”
The tablet comes with a seven-inch color display. It has a touch screen and operates on Google’s Android software.
It gives users direct access to Amazon’s huge collection of books, videos and music – as well as games and apps. But the biggest draw may be the price.
“It’s $199,” says Bezos.
That’s less than half the cost of Apple’s iPad, which starts at $499.
“This is an extremely aggressive price, and it’s going to be difficult for other manufacturers to compete with it,” Paul Reynolds, of Consumer Reports, said.
Amazon took a page from Apple’s book for this announcement. It kept the details secret and let the hype build. Also, much like Apple’s former CEO Steve Jobs, Amazon’s chief executive roamed the stage in front of a giant display.
The big question is whether the Kindle Fire will be the first real challenge to the iPad. Other contenders – from Hewlett Packard to Research In Motion – have fallen short, and Apple sold over nine million iPads in the last quarter alone.
“They’re really going to be a strong competitor to the iPad because of how much media Amazon has in the eco-system,” Bridget Carey, the senior editor of CNet.com, said.
The Kindle Fire goes on sale just in time for the holiday rush. Amazon is taking pre-orders now, but won’t start shipping until Nov. 15.
Amazon also announced upgraded versions of its popular eReader. A new touch-screen Kindle starts at $99, while the basic version drops to $79.