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The new Kindle Fire; What it needs to be a hit

Ed Oswald | Aug. 27, 2012
Amazon has kindled the fires of speculation with its announcement Thursday of a press event on September 6, which likely signals the launch of new Kindles, including an updated Kindle Fire.

Amazon has kindled the fires of speculation with its announcement Thursday of a press event on September 6, which likely signals the launch of new Kindles, including an updated Kindle Fire. The event occurs almost a year since the introduction of the first Kindle Fire. It's also just six days before Apple's expected press event, where the rumored iPad "Mini" may finally make an appearance and pose a true thread to the future success of the Fire.

Analysts say that a smaller iPad could be a massive hit for Apple, considering consumers' desire for smaller form factors when it comes to tablets. Some consumers don't need a larger tablet akin to the iPad; nor do they have the $500 to plunk down on such a device. So 7-inch tablets such as the Kindle Fire or the Google Nexus 7 have become popular alternatives.

While Amazon hit a low price, just shy of $200, with its first Kindle Fire, the tablet disappointed in many ways. This time around, the pressure is on Amazon to produce a competitive tablet that compete on more than price. What must the company do to ensure the next Kindle Fire is as big a hit -- or bigger -- than the first? Here are five things I'm looking for.

1. Less E-Reader, More Tablet

While the Fire took the e-reader to the next level by using a custom variation of the Android operating system, critics pointed out that it still wasn't useful as a tablet. Amazon's Android variant relied on apps downloaded solely from its Appstore, and it lacked some of the functionality common to standard Android tablets. In contrast, the iPad Mini will likely give users a tablet experience in a smaller form factor, just like the Google Nexus 7 already does for Android tablets. The new Kindle Fire must provide a better tablet-like experience while staying true to its content-centric roots in order to compete head to head with the iPad Mini.

2. Keep it Cheap, but Don't Cut Corners on Design

Also criticized was the Fire's design quality, which felt as inexpensive as its price. Amazon appears to be taking these concerns to heart: BGR reported in June that one of the enhancements will be a metal case versus the plastic one it has now. That's a welcome change, but only as long as it remains close to its current price point.

3. Better Features, More Speed

Even with the use of Android, the tablet's feature set looked more like a e-book than a tablet. That seems to be ready to change. The forthcoming Kindle Fire update is expected to gain a dual-core processor and front-facing camera, as well as an HDMI-out port. These features will make the Kindle Fire more competitive with tablets.

4. Give it a Big Sibling

 

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