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Amazon Takes "Fire" at Apple's iPad

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Given Apple's turnaround rate for introducing new iterations of its products, the iPad 2 -- which debuted back in March -- is looking a bit long in the tooth. The company will undoubtedly turn heads with the inevitable iPad 3 update, but for now, there's a noticeable hiatus in flagship tablet devices -- one that Motorola, HP, BlackBerry, and Samsung have failed to adequately fill.

However, in a press event today, Amazon announced it'll also have a go at the title.

The Seattle e-retailer has thrown its hat into the tablet ring with an update to its Kindle line, namely the Kindle Fire. Making good on rumors that have percolating for at least a year, the Kindle Fire is a full-color, touchscreen tablet with no keyboard. (Unfortunately, also no 3G, no camera, and no microphone.) At seven inches, it will run a version of Android -- described as a "souped-up Kindle" -- and come equipped with a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime, offering up streaming video and free two-day shipping with a normally $79/year fee.

While it admittedly falls short of Apple's stats and specs for the iPad 2 -- as well as the original iPad -- considering the cost of the Kindle Fire is $199, there will be more than a few motivated buyers. If anything, Barnes and Noble should be sweating. Its $250 Nook Color just got direct competition.

Speaking with Bloomberg, CEO Jeff Bezos said, "What we are doing is offering premium products at non-premium prices." He added that other tablet contenders "have not been competitive on price" and "have just sold a piece of hardware." Adding, "We don't think of the Kindle Fire as a tablet. We think of it as a service."

Tablet or not, Amazon needs to drive home to potential customers that the device will do more than just store e-books. Even at twice the cost, the iPad does more than twice as much more.

(See also: Apple Denied Multi-Touch Trademark by Patent Office and Apple Slashing iPad Holiday Orders by 25%, Says Report)

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