Books written by Ray Sullivan

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Amazon On Fire, Rumours of War

There's no shortage of rumours on the blogosphere, and this blog isn't shy of promoting a half-baked, unsubstantiated rumour.  As hacks at one of the UKs premier newpapers have been proud to declare in the past, we don't like the truth to get in the way of a good rumour.

There's a couple of rumours that have been circulating for some months in various forms that now appear to be gaining a degree of believabilty despite being increasingly played down.  I suspect that the down-playing of something that appears to be firming up is a sensible reaction - it kind of hedges the bets.

So I don't know if any of the following is likely to pan out, but my gut thinks it will.  So do many of the web pages touching on these rumours, albeit with covering caveats.  I'll leave the caveats with them.  If I'm wrong, I'm wrong.

The first rumour gaining strength is that Amazon are looking to launch the Kindle Fire in the UK and Europe pretty soon - guesses on dates are hazy and I've mooted in a previous blog that Amazon need to address this gap by Autumn to give them a good run up for the Christmas shopping frenzy.  Some good observations circulating out there have caused me to review that estimate and bring it forward to the Summer.  Why?  Well the most compelling arguments for a sooner-rather-then-later release is the emergence of Netflix in the UK and Sky launching its own Lovefilm-alike product.  Lovefilm, an Amazon company, makes a natural complement to the media stregths of the Kindle Fire, but will become a watered down addition as these products catch the public eye.

The next rumour, and one that's been floating since January, is that Amazon are about to launch two new versions of the Kindle Fire.  One is just an upgraded device and would appear to be a natural developmental thing - they've shipped millions of the blighters in the US and must have shaken down the inevitable issues by now.  The January rumour was probably way too early for Amazon to have made firm decisions about, but now would seem reasonable.  Whether version 2 is released in the UK as the initial version, only time will tell, but it would make sense to launch with it if the timing pans out.

Another Kindle Fire release rumoured is a ten inch version,  a la Apple iPad.  This is one rumour that is most frequently hedged in the Internet, however the size of the iPad hasn't harmed the Apple sales noticeably.  Clearly a ten inch Kindle Fire will cost more and will probably nudge up to the lower cost regions of the Apple devices, but could work if Amazon get the whole holistic infrastructure eco-system bit right.  If they don't, then the hedge-mongers will be proven right - nobody seems to want to pay Apple prices for sub-Apple environments.

The final rumour gaining momentum out there in cyberspace is that Apple are looking at marketing a seven inch iPad.  Again, it's been floating around for months and generally has been discounted.  Certainly Steve Jobs dismissed the concept of a seven inch iPad as unworkable, however it's well documented that the development of the iPad was shelved for a period while the iPhone was developed - that's right, they invented the iPad before the iPhone but chose to launch the smart phone with its relatively tiny screen ahead of the iPad.  so I'd say Steve was being a tad disingenuous regarding screen sizes - he didn't have any qualms about giving the world a significantly smaller screen when it suited him.  My guess is that the new leadership at Apple, watching the Kindle Fire eat into its market share with a puny seven inch screen, will see the opportunity to tap into that market.  And provide a more affordable iPad into the bargain that also lets it launch a 'new' product.

In my book, this is war.  At least that's the rumour I'm putting about.


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