Amazon has announced a variety of new products today, but the strangest and potentially most interesting is the company's first $50 7-inch Fire tablets. You can buy them singly for $50 or in a six pack for $250, making the sixth unit free.
"This is not a top-of-the-line tablet," The Verge reports. "It's not one of the new Fire HD tablets, and it's definitely not the Kindle Fire HDX. The 7-inch Kindle Fire has a 1024 x 600 resolution display (although, with IPS), a 1.3Ghz quad-core processor, 8 gigabytes of internal storage, one gigabyte of RAM, and your basic front- and rear-facing cameras. It runs on the latest version of Fire OS and claims seven hours of battery life with average use."
So it's not particularly powerful, nor is a full-resolution screen. But it's also $50, and you can buy them in a nice little six-pack if you want them to throw in the sixth one for free. Why is this a big deal?
Education and families
This is great news because a large amount of what people like to do with tablets takes little processing power, and at $50 these tablets are just a shade above disposable. Do you want a second screen next to your computer to look up the best League of Legends builds? You can get one for $50. Want to look up instructions for car repair while you're under your car without worrying about your tablet getting crushed or oil spilling on it? This tablet can help.
Do you want to give your kids a screen loaded with movies they can use on road trips without worrying about a spill killing a $400 tablet? Amazon has you covered, get one for everyone in the family. The six-pack option is going to be a wonderful option for anyone working in education. The price is low, the size is right for little hands, and a cracked screen or spill is only a $42 replacement cost for parents for schools assuming the six packs are bought. Educational games don't really need a ton of power, nor do reading programs.
Buy one and attach it to the wall in your kitchen for recipes, and keep it there. It's only $50. Use it as an e-reader that you aren't scared to use in the bath tub. Let your toddlers play with it. The sky is the limit here, and the use case is any situation where you need a moderately powered tablet but you're too nervous about using a full-priced model.
Look at this picture of the six pack, care of Re/Code:
Hand them out at the office. Use them to stream content from other devices. They may be underpowered compared to much more expensive options, but the possibilities for use as content consumption devices or ways to get information into any and all rooms of your house are nearly unlimited. Any company that sells a touch-screen device for over $50 has to be nervous about this turn of events; you can install one of these into the wall of each room of your house to automate the lights and entertainment, and you can save money by buying a lot of them.
I'm ordering a six pack, and I don't have one particular use for them yet. What I have is a dozen or so interesting ideas for what may be possible, and since the six pack brings the price down to $42 per device it's an easy sell. Amazon is entering the low-end spectrum of the tablet business in a big way, but the value is in the Amazon name as much as the price. You can buy other $50 tablets, but they come from companies like NeuTab and Astro Tab. Ever heard those?
Customers may not be comfortable buying a tablet at this price from most businesses, but Amazon has a good habit of taking care of its customers and standing behind its products. That allows people who are used to using more expensive tablets to feel a bit more comfortable trying a low-end product knowing it may be underpowered, but it certainly won't be garbage.
This is an interesting, powerful play from Amazon, and I'm excited about what the maker community and hackers will be able to do with these devices.