It’s not quite the best time ever to be a Kindle Fire buyer – yet. That time could be in the last few weeks of the year, as a wave of Kindle and Fire bargains jockey to catch the pre-holiday rush. (And please note that the illustration for this article is not a current offer – but it does show how Kindle prices have moved in the past, and could be about to move soon.)
The advent of the $50 Kindle Fire 7 suggests that Amazon is looking at a reset for the pricing of its entire Kindle line. After all, that price point sets a new floor for the entire range, and makes you wonder if buyers will still look at epaper devices when full colour is available – even at a less-than-HD resolution. Amazon may be wondering too.
Sure enough, prices on the previous generations of Kindle Fire devices are already starting to push downwards. Fine, these carry a “previous generation” notice on the Amazon site, but is that likely to deter anyone who wants one?
Looking at what’s still available from Amazon, we have the Fire HDX 8.9 at $329.99 with 16GB memory, as well as used HDX 7 devices available from as little as $139.50. Best Buy is offering the Fire HDX 7 for $170.9 via other resellers, and the original Fire HD 7 off its own shelves for $139.99. What’s the betting that all those prices will drop substantially after September 30?
And when it comes to the Kindle line itself, every single one of the old style Kindles is now more expensive than the new Kindle Fire 7. The basic Kindle 6, without its special offers, retails for the same price as the Fire 6. Again, is that price point likely to last after September 30? I do love the particular qualities and advantages of an eInk screen, but that’s never stopped me opting for a full-colour tablet when one at the same price point as a basic Kindle is available. Why would I rule out colour multimedia or even colour (virtual) book jackets and illustrations when I don’t have a price incentive to do so?
Remember that in its August back to school series of deals, Amazon itself offered the basic Kindle for just $59, as well as a Kindle for Kids bundle. If even the mothership is ready to shower discounted Kindles on the population, all its resellers and stockists with inventory to shift must surely be ready to do so too.
And Amazon could be about to trigger a discounting round in the whole tablet market. As Chris Meadows says elsewhere, “we’ve never had a respected-name-brand media tablet this cheap before, even a low-end one.” That could be a game changer for the entire tablet sector. I mean, why buy a Chinese knock-off when you can pick up a device that carries the Amazon brand and has Amazon’s entire product range behind it? Or, with that Amazon guarantee and slew of media offerings, why buy even the most basic Samsung tablet at twice the price? The fact that the next size up from the new basic Fire 7 is the Fire HD 8 suggests that Amazon doesn’t think the 7-inch space is even worth pitching for any more once its own $49.99 offering in that form factor is out there.
I’m one of the few geeks who does enough with his device to warrant sticking to an open-platform Android tablet, but for the average consumer it’s probably a no-brainer. And Amazon may be counting on exactly that.
The $329 HDX8.9 is the 2013 model. The 2014 HDX8.9 is also available starting at $379. It is probably worth spending more for the latter for better specs, the color balance feature, and because it will be getting update to Fire OS 5.
But I don’t think we’ll see those marked down any more than they are now.