Commentary

Amazon Prices Devices To Thrill Consumers, Kill Competition

Amazon yesterday introduced six new Fire devices with all sorts of come-ons and add-ons designed to entice everybody from 3 year olds to gamers into the Prime entertainment ecosystem.

“With four tablets and two set-top boxes, Amazon made a single statement: We win at entertainment. You want to draw, futz with spreadsheets, or map the human genome? Great. Buy an iPad (preferably on Amazon.com!),” writes David Pierce for Wired.

“Every product Amazon makes is designed to sell you something else. It’s an open secret,” writes Sean Hollister for Gizmodo. That’s why the company could lose money on the Kindle Fire—yet still reap a profit. Now, Amazon is introducing the most irresistible moneysuck yet: a $50 tablet.”

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No matter, really, that it’s as “barebones” as it gets, from the 7-inch screen to the 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. It’s what it displays that counts, from movies to books to its replacement charging cords for Apple devices. In fact, “it’s an impulse buy filled with impulse buys,” Hollister says.

Forrester principal analyst James McQuivey tells Reuters’ Mari Saito that the “$50 tablet is a ‘gateway drug’ for Amazon to attract new customers to Prime, a $99-a-year shopping program estimated to have about 40 million members.” 

“The lesson we learned from consumer electronics is that when the market matures, consumers go cheaper,” McQuivey also points out. “If you're Amazon and you know this is going to happen, you might as well join in.”

Barking, “Step right up, buy six and get one free” while you’re at it.

“While not exactly a stocking-stuffer price, the Seattle company is also selling the tablets in a six-pack for just under $250, bringing them down to $41 each,” points outUSA Today’s Elizabeth Weise. 

In addition, Amazon unveiled updates to the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablets, a Fire Kids Edition tablet and a revamped Fire TV set-top box and streaming stick, reportsTime’s Victor Luckerson.

The “Fire Kids Edition” comes with bumpers for children aged 3 and up. It costs $100 but comes with a two-year, no-questions-asked replacement guarantee.

Amazon is also “marketing its tablet-for-youngsters differently, specifically calling out its ability to set daily limits for recreational uses or to configure the device for age-appropriate content,” observes Alexander Howard for the Huffington Post.

Amazon also unwrapped its holiday-season “answer to the Apple TV: a Fire TV box with Alexa and 4K video support,” as the hed on Lauren Goode’s story for The Verge tells us. You have to be watching 4K content, on a 4K TV to really reap the benefits of 4K Ultra HD video capability but hey, it’s “a claim that Apple can't make with its own set-top box,” Goode points out.   

That’s embarrassing to Apple, writes John Archer for Forbes, pointing out that the Amazon box is also $50 cheaper than the upgraded Apple TV announced last week. In addition, Amazon says “the new Fire TV is 75% faster … and has a more efficient compression system for full HD content that will allow twice as many of its customers to stream 1080p video over poor broadband connections than the number who currently can,” Samuel Gibbs writes for the Guardian.

Also, “Alexa can queue up music through the TV, and in the future, will power simple searches—‘Alexa, play episode three of ‘Transparent,’” writes Goode. “Eventually, she'll let you reorder Amazon.com items through your TV set.” 

She just needs a little time; she’s relatively new to the program.

The upgraded Fire TV stick, available Oct. 22, also “will work with a user’s voice to take advantage of Amazon’s search capabilities in a lower price bracket [$49],” reports Lauren Hockenson for The Next Web.

And the Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition, available Oct. 5, features a game controller, a 32 GB microSD and two games — “Shovel Knight” and “Ducktales.” Writes Chris Kerr on Gamasutra: “It feels like a case of ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ for the online retailer, which looks to be gunning for Apple’s new game-ready TV.”

Amazon also announced yesterday that it is advising users of Amazon Webstores, its software for small online retailers, to move their stores to Shopify, reportsFortune’s Leena Rao. In March, it told retailers using the e-commerce technology that it would phase out the platform by June 2016, as Internet Retailer’s Thad Rueter reported.

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