Introducing the All-New Amazon Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 with Amazon Alexa

17 May 2017

From the Amazon Press Room:

Amazon today announced two new additions to its Fire Tablet lineup—the all-new Fire 7 and all-new Fire HD 8. Amazon’s best-selling tablet is now even better—Fire 7 features a thinner and lighter design, an improved 7” IPS display with higher contrast and sharper text, longer battery life with up to 8 hours of mixed use, 8 GB of storage with support for up to 256 GB of expandable storage, and better Wi-Fi connectivity, plus Alexa—all for only $49.99. The all-new Fire HD 8—the next-generation of Amazon’s highest customer-rated tablet—offers a stunning 8” HD display with over 1 million pixels, a quad-core processor, up to 12 hours of battery life, 16 GB of storage with support for up to 256 GB more, plus Alexa—now only $79.99. Both Fire Tablets are available for pre-order starting today.

. . . .

Alexa makes it easy to have your favorite entertainment right at your fingertips. With a simple long-press of the home button, you can ask Alexa to play your favorite movie or TV show, read aloud the latest audiobook you’ve been reading, open a game or app, turn off the lights, or adjust the temperature controls. You can even ask Alexa for the news, weather, jokes, questions, and more. Alexa provides natural-language responses, combined with on-screen information on the tablet’s display—ask for the weather and see the week’s forecast, ask to play a song and see the album cover. Since bringing Alexa to Fire Tablets last year, customers have asked Alexa for millions of songs, jokes, the weather, trivia, movies, audiobooks, and more every week.

Link to the rest at Amazon Press Room and here’s a link to more on the new Fires.

Amazon Fire Is Cooling Off, And It May Threaten Prime Growth

13 May 2017

From Seeking Alpha:

 Amazon had an amazing run of success with the fifth generation of its Fire tablets, released in fall 2015. Over the next twelve months, it regularly reported doubling sales despite the declines in the overall tablet market. Customers responded extremely well to Amazon’s renewed focus on price and value over top-end specs.

The sixth generation of Fire tablets was expected to be released in Fall 2016. But only one of the three Fire models received a refresh at that time. Despite that, sales appeared at first to be continuing upward. Amazon, as usual, did not disclose actual sales figures for Black Friday Weekend, but it did say that Fire tablet sales were double what they were last year. Fire tablets sales were also helped by the fact that they were marked down for the holidays.

. . . .

Discounts and the Black Friday report left many, including me, optimistic that Amazon would report more growth in its tablet sales for the holiday 2016 period. When it failed to do so, I flagged it as a potential setback for Amazon.

. . . .

And now IDC’s 1Q2017 report is out. And the trend has been confirmed. While Amazon remains one of the better performers in the tablet market, its growth has come to a screeching halt. Amazon sales held steady for the second straight quarter.

That beat Apple’s and Samsung’s performances – beat everyone except Huawei in fact – but marked a substantial shortfall from its prior performance, and also from what its own prior comments had indicated. And with Amazon still commanding less than 10% of the tablet market, it was not really a reflection of hitting any industry ceiling. It simply failed to continue growth.

. . . .

Fire tablet sales are very important to Amazon, but not because of the revenue they generate. They are important because selling a Fire tablet is one of the best ways for Amazon to enmesh a customer firmly in the Amazon Prime ecosystem, either selling or retaining a subscription.

With evidence suggesting that Amazon Prime subscribers buy at least twice what non-Prime subscribers do, and maybe more, off the website, this makes Fire tablets one of Amazon’s most important product categories despite the relatively low sales revenues. More Fire tablets equal more Prime subscribers.

Link to the rest at Seeking Alpha

Fire Tablet Deals

4 April 2017

Amazon is running a price promotion on Fire Tablets today, at least in the US.

If you’ve never tried one or if you want one for your writing desk and another for your bedroom, this could be a good opportunity.

Amazon Fire Tablet Sale

Sale on Kindle Ereaders

9 March 2017

Amazon is running a sale on Kindle Ereaders.

$20 off most of them until tomorrow.

PG really likes his Paperwhite, the best-selling Kindle.

While Apple’s iPad remained the Leader in Tablets for 2016, Innovation is needed to reinvigorate the Sector

18 February 2017

From Patently Apple:

While Apple toppled iPad expectations for 2016, the fact remains that for the year iPad sales dropped 14.1%, more than double the industry as a whole which fell 6.6%, according to the latest TrendForce report covering the tablet market. Apple’s total shipment for 2016 came in at 42.55 million units. Strong demand for iPad in North America and exceptional results from year-end holiday sales sustained iPad shipments last year.

. . . .

TrendForce report Anita Wang pointed out that “Apple has as many as three to four new iPad products lined up for 2017. In addition to an economically priced 9.7-inch model that is ready for market release, Apple will also launch a new 12.9-inch model. Furthermore, Apple will also introduce a new 10.5-inch iPad. This will be a new size category for the device series.”

TrendForce estimates that this year’s iPad shipments will fall by 6~8% annually to around 40 million units. There are reports of a “Pro” version of iPad mini being planned. If Apple decides to release such a product this year, the annual iPad shipments may stabilize and even register growth.”

Adding more “Pro” iPad models is simply means that more iPads will be able to use Apple Pencil.

. . . .

On the flip side, Amazon’s cheapo tablet market approach allowed them to double sales (99.4% to be exact) from last year and zoom to the number three spot worldwide with 11 million units. Anyone can sell cheapo tablets at a loss like Amazon, so on that count at least Microsoft is a pure competitor trying to innovate and make a profit. Microsoft also doesn’t want to enter the lower end of the model and compete with their Windows partners.

Link to the rest at Patently Apple

PG says disruptive technology always enters and builds in a market from the cheap side up. He doesn’t know if this is Amazon’s strategy, but bang for the buck is a powerful marketing and sales tool.

Amazon tablet shipments grew by 99.4 percent in 2016

15 February 2017

From ZDNet:

Amazon posted a phenomenal 99.4 percent annual growth in its tablet shipments for 2016, totaling 11 million units, claims a report by research firm TrendForce.

But while the huge growth seen by Amazon was enough to put the company in third place for top tablet brands and giving it a 7 percent market share, it wasn’t enough for the company to challenge the dominance of Apple and Samsung, who commanded first and second place on the list with 27 and 17.2 percent market share respectively.

Overall, global tablet shipments fell only by 6.6 percent over 2016 to 157.4 million units, with total shipments from branded vendors beating expectations as a result of strong year-end holiday sales.

. . . .

TrendForce believes that tablet shipments will continue to fall in 2017, from 157.4 million units in 2016 to 147.8 million in 2017, a fall of 6.1 percent.

Link to the rest at ZDNet

Amazon May Be About To Build A True iPad Challenger

13 February 2017

From Seeking Alpha:

Amazon is having shortages throughout its product lineup at present. E-Readers, tablets, streaming boxes, voice assistants and Prime-exclusive phones all have at least one model out of stock for two weeks or more. All but the phones and E-Readers have half or more of their total model variants out of stock.

. . . .

It first came to my attention when I did my customary check of Amazon’s tablet devices this weekend and noticed that the Fire HD8 was now being advertised at a $120 price, $30 higher than it was at launch. At first I thought the price had actually been hiked, something almost unheard of for The Everything Store. But no. Actually, the company had just replaced the baseline variant with the 32GB expanded storage variant, which had always been $120. The reason why is simple: the more popular, 16 GB $90 version is out of stock all the way until April 7th. And the shortages are still spreading. Two of the four color variants of the HD8 32GB are also now out of stock, one until early April again and the other for up to six months!

. . . .

The shortages are also not limited just to the Fire line. They extend throughout Amazon’s device family. The Echo Black is sold out again until February 25th, just like it was over Christmas when sales rose nine times over year ago levels. The White is still in stock, however. Meanwhile, the Kindle Paperwhite has just the opposite problem: the black option is still in stock but the white is sold out. Echo’s $50 cousin, the Echo Dot, is sold out until the same date for the White color option, the black is sold out until March 2nd.

. . . .

The shortages of so many products simultaneously outside the holiday season are somewhat unusual, certainly. Usually, when products go out of stock outside the holiday crunch, it means that the devices are about to be retired and replaced with updated models. But it’s unlikely Amazon is going to literally replace its entire product lineup in the space of a few weeks.

Another explanation is that Amazon devices are just that good, just that in demand. But product shortages have now exceeded those in the heart of the holiday season, which was an unqualified success for Amazon.

. . . .

My interpretation of this data is that we are actually seeing a confluence of a couple of different trends in the device market. While a device-wide shortage might seem to imply a device-wide explanation, I think a few different things are going on. The Fire TV and Echo shortages are simply natural shortages of in-demand products in rapidly growing sectors. The HD8 shortage is probably real, but being exaggerated. The other shortages, however, are something else.

The Echo and Fire TV are really Amazon’s two most successful product lines, even above tablets. While Amazon’s tablets sell well, they are still regarded as just “good enough,” things you buy because the value per dollar is so much better even though they are not top of the line.

By contrast, Echo and Fire TV are widely seen as leaders in their field, things you buy because they are the very best money can buy.

. . . .

The tablet shortage, however, I believe does portend a pending product refresh and potentially a very significant one.

. . . .

I noted before that the HD8, while still not as cheap as its $50 cousin, is actually a pretty incredible engineering feat for Amazon. An HD upgrade used to triple the price of a Fire device. Now, it is only $40 more to get more memory, more processor power, and most importantly to many users, a battery life twice as long at 12 hours or better.

Amazon did a pretty remarkable thing achieving all of that with a 40% price cut in one year. And it has a lot of people telling tablet shoppers that they are really better-advised to spring for the extra $40 for everything they are getting for it.

. . . .

The last shortage, however, has a different cause, I think. Of all of these shortages, only one device is listed positively as out of stock indefinitely. That usually means it is never coming back, and that usually means a product refresh. It came as a surprise to more than a few people that Amazon did not update the HD10 prior to the holiday season, including me. If Amazon is now finally ready to do so, it would explain why the current HD10 is not only out of stock, but out of stock with no projected return date.

. . . .

HD10 represents Amazon’s last remaining foothold in the higher-priced market, though still nowhere near full-sized iPad prices. But it is the closest thing iPad has to a direct competitor in the Fire lineup, the one variant that almost comes off as “for iPad lovers who don’t want to pay for an iPad.”

. . . .

The HD10 upgrade may be more significant. If Amazon can reproduce the battery life gains it made with the Fire HD8 and pair them with some higher-powered processors like what it sold in the old HDX lineups, closer to what iPad and high-powered Androids offer, it will mark a new kind of Fire tablet. Or a return of the old kind, more accurately. If it can do this without any price increase and perhaps even with a price cut below the psychologically important $200 threshold – i.e. $199 – it may create a strong new challenger in a shrinking market.

Link to the rest at Seeking Alpha


12 February 2017

Link to the rest at reMarkable and thanks to Josh for the tip.

Barnes & Noble pulls Nook Tablet 7-inch from sale due to faulty charger

14 January 2017

From ZDNet:

Barnes & Noble released its latest Nook tablet, the Nook Tablet 7-inch, on Black Friday in its latest attempt to battle the success of Amazon’s popular Fire tablets. With a low price of just $50, the new Nook was supposed to compete with the dirt-cheap Fire 6, but B&N’s slate has been riddled with issues from the start.

Shortly after its launch, the Nook was found to be loaded with ADUPS firmware that could allow hackers to spy on the device’s user, presumably thanks to the Chinese manufacturer B&N used to produce it (a cost-cutting break from its partnership with Samsung and its Galaxy brand of tablets). The bookseller claims by launch it had updated the Nook to a version that did not track user data and was working on removing it from the device altogether, but it was hardly an auspicious beginning for the tablet.

Then more recently a poster on Reddit claimed to be a Barnes & Noble retail employee and claimed that the new Nook had been recalled from stores. The company’s website has also been updated to reflect that the Nook Tablet 7-inch is now “not available.”

While speculation was that B&N was unable to rid the Nook of the ADUPS spyware satisfactorily, the company told the Android Police website that it pulled the tablet from sale for an unrelated reason. It claims that three incidents of the casing of the Nook’s charging adapter breaking led to the halting of retail sales. No injuries were reported, but Barnes & Noble says that existing owners can charge the Nook via a computer instead and that the company is sourcing a replacement AC adapter.

Link to the rest at ZDNet

Android Malware Infects Barnes & Noble

26 December 2016

From Linux Journal:

ADUPS is an Android “firmware provisioning” company based out of Shanghai, China. The software specializes both in Big Data collection of Android usage, and hostile app installation and/or firmware control. Google has blacklisted the ADUPS agent in its Android Compatibility Test Suite (CTS).

ADUPS recently compromised many BLU-phone models and was found to be directly transmitting call logs, SMS, contacts, location info, nd more from handsets within the US to Chinese servers using DES (weak) encryption.

The latest tablet from Barnes & Noble, the newly-released $49 BNTV450, has been found to include ADUPS. In the aftermath of the BLU data theft, ADUPS hostile data collection and control over Android may (or may not) be temporarily quelled, but harmful capability remains with the ADUPS agent. Devices running ADUPS should be considered under malicious control, and they should not be used with sensitive data of any kind.

Link to the rest at Linux Journal and thanks to G.P. for the tip.

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