Three new Kindles from Amazon!

Kindle. $79. More or less the current model, but 30 per cent lighter and minus a keyboard. This thing is going to fly off the shelves. It has an astonishing price-point that puts ebooks firmly within reach of far, far more people. It ditches the keyboard, which is fair enough, and it looks fab.

Kindle touch. $99 or $149 for 3G. Retains e-ink and nukes buttons; adds touch interface. An interesting move, given the price. I’m unsure if it’ll lead to purchase issues because of doubt over which model to pick (standard or touch), or whether it’ll be a straight upsell from the standard Kindle. I’m not sold on the touch interface for this kind of device: I like the Kindle buttons, and getting fingerprints all over the screen doesn’t seem like a great prospect. I’m just not sure this model is necessary in the line-up.

Kindle Fire. $199 7-inch Android-based tablet. This is initially going to sell like hot cakes. There’s no camera, mic or 3G, but you get Wi-Fi and 30 days of Amazon Prime (which in the UK seemingly means items being dispatched and lost by Royal Mail half the time anyway…) The question mark will be over usage. I do read on my iPad, which has a similar kind of display, but a standard Kindle’s e-ink is much better for long-form reading. But the Kindle Fire also has access to apps, games, movies and music. It’ll be interesting to see just how many buyers go for this (or if they go for this and a standard Kindle) and how it affects (if at all) the iPad, not least considering Amazon’s pretty dev-hostile app store.

Regarding Apple, I disagree with some tech pundits—there is a minor threat here. Amazon’s providing people with a much cheaper and potentially more than ‘good enough’ tablet option, for general media consumption. The iPad has brand awareness, a larger screen and a massive range of apps, but the Kindle Fire will eat up a lower end of the market, potentially snaring people who might later have bought an iPad, and who don’t care for or need advanced apps on a large screen. The real losers today, though, are every other manufacturer of 7-inch Android-based tablets. As of the Kindle Fire’s released, they are royally screwed.