Amazon's new $50 Fire tablet sits on display along with assorted colored cases, background, in San Francisco. Amazon.com is introducing the $50 tablet computer in its latest attempt to boost its online store sales by luring consumers who can’t afford more expensive Internet-connected devices made by Apple and other rivals. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Amazon offers tablet computer for $50
September 24, 2015
Amazon is selling a $50 tablet computer. It is the company's latest attempt to lure consumers. Many cannot afford or do not want the more expensive Internet-connected devices. Many are made by Apple and other rivals.
The 7-inch Fire tablet marks Amazon's strongest attempt yet. It is trying to undercut Apple. The Apple devices have been the market leader since its first iPad went on sale. That was five years ago. The least expensive iPad Mini has an 8-inch screen. It sells for $270.
Amazon.com Inc. is not trying to persuade anyone that its cheap tablet matches the quality of its own sleeker, higher-priced Fire HD alternatives. Let alone the top-selling iPad line.
But the Seattle company is counting on the new tablet's low price. It could make more people want to buy a device. The tablets might hook them on watching video, reading books, playing games and shopping on a computer. Tablets also are small. Most are easy to carry.
In the process, Amazon is hoping people will buy more digital goods and merchandise from its store. And, subscribe to its $100-per-year Prime service. It offers a mix of videos, music and free shipping.
"Our tablet focus is in and around content consumption," said David Limp. He is Amazon's senior vice president of devices.
As with its previous low-priced tablets, the new Fire device will show ads on its screen saver. Avoiding the ads will cost an additional $15.
The discount tablet will debut amid a slump in the sale of the devices. The downturn suggests people who already own a tablet see little need to upgrade. And those that do not have one are not interested in the devices. Or they cannot afford one.
Apple's iPad sales have been declining since 2013. It has spurred the company to take aim at selling more of its tablets to corporate customers and government agencies. Industry wide, worldwide sales of tablets are expected to fall 8 percent this year. That is according to the research firm International Data Corp.
Amazon is hoping that the low price of the new tablet will be appealing. Perhaps people will stock up. They could have them scattered around the house. The company plans to sell a six-pack of the 7-inch Fire tablets for the price of five. That will be $250.
Although the new tablet is cheap, Limp boasted it is far superior to other discount tablets.
Amazon is promising the discount tablet will have decent processing power. The company says the tablet will have good color saturation. And it will have seven hours of battery life. There is also a more durable version designed for kids. It will come with a blue or pink bumper. It also will have a 2-year replacement warranty if it's broken for any reason. It will sell for $100.
Amazon also has unveiled updates to larger, more expensive tablets and its devices for streaming Internet video to television sets. The company is gearing up to battle Apple and other gadget makers. A flurry of electronics sales typically accompany the holiday shopping season.
Apple also has shown off some new or updated products. It is offering the latest iPhone. It has an iPad with a 12-inch screen. And Apple now has the long-delayed update of its TV-streaming box. That is for Internet video and music.
Amazon tried to counter the iPhone's popularity with its own smartphone last year. But it never caught on. The company no longer sells its Fire phone. It's still available in other online stores.
Despite the phone's flop, Limp insisted "there's a lot of good things happening across Amazon's device business."
The company's holiday line-up includes a more durable 8-inch Fire HD tablet. It will have faster processing speeds than last year's model. It will sell at prices beginning at $150. An upgraded 10-inch Fire HD tablet will sell for $230. That is 42 percent less than the least expensive $400 iPad with a similar display size.
Amazon is adding a remote control with a voice-activated search option to its Fire stick for Internet video streaming. The streaming stick will sell for $50. The price is up from $40 from last year's version. That one did not include voice-recognition technology.
Amazon's Fire TV box will now be able stream ultra HD video. It uses technology that is supposed to deliver a better picture to screens with standard HD, too. It will sell for $100. That is compared with $150 for the new Apple TV box. That device is scheduled to go on sale at the end of October.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How does Amazon keep the price of its tablet low?
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