byTim Stevens||September 28th 2011 at 9:55amSeptember 28th 2011 9:55 am
Okay, so we don't know that we'll be seeing a tablet (or two) today, but that's what we're expecting, and regardless we're eager to see what the company has in store for us. We're getting settled in at Stage 37 here in New York City (a place we're very familiar with) and the event begins soon. Join us as we find out what's next.
10:53AM Okay, we're done. Hands-on time!
10:53AM Pick your poison!
10:53AM So, it's Fire for $199, Touch 3G for $149, Touch for $99, and Kindle for $79.
10:52AM Fire ships November 15th. "We're making many millions of these, but I still recommend you pre-order today."
10:52AM This one's much more dramatic, following the evolution of writing through print to the Kindle. "From Kindle, Fire is born."
10:51AM Time for another commercial!
10:51AM "We're building premium products at non-premium prices."
10:51AM "It's $199." Silence in the room, nobody's pretending to be surprised.
10:51AM We already know, but lay it on us, Jeff.
10:50AM Jeff's listing down the specs... and asking the question "What's the price of Kindle Fire."
10:50AM "It's really an incredible achievement."
10:49AM Okay, video over, Jeff is back.
10:49AM "It'll seem like a traditional browser, just a lot faster and a lot better than you're used to working with."
10:48AM "A thread of silk is an invisible yet an incredibly strong connection." You know, in case you were wondering about the name.
10:48AM "We can optimize what we're sending back down to the device" -- basically, if you're looking at a three megabyte image on a WVGA screen, it'll downsample it automatically.
10:47AM But, if those requests are happening in EC2, the requests could be much quicker. Plus, the system can cache it there, meaning you suck it all down in one shot.
10:47AM Each hop across the network is 100ms minimum, and if you're pulling down 80 - 100 files per webpage that's a lot.
10:46AM The browser is smart enough to offload things intelligently as it makes sense to give us the best performance.
10:46AM It's called "Dynamic Split Browsing" -- everything can be done locally or remotely.
10:45AM Shades of Skyfire back in the day...
10:45AM "What do customers really care about? It's the time it takes to get something usable on the screen."
10:44AM "How would you build a web browser in the era of cloud computing." So, you cloud content gets rendered... in the cloud.
10:44AM It's what he calls a "split" browser. We're getting a video demo.
10:43AM "It's called Amazon Silk."
10:43AM "The answer is yes." We knew it!
10:43AM Hmm Jeff, is there?
10:43AM "I wonder if there is some way that we can use the incredible computational horsepower of Amazon EC2 to accelerate mobile browsing."
10:43AM "It is difficult for mobile devices to display modern web content rapidly."
10:42AM ...many of them are not pictures of books.
10:42AM That was 15 years ago. Now it's 630k and, no surprise, a whole lot of pictures.
10:42AM Jeff's showing off the first generation Amazon.com. Homepage was just 10k in size with a whole one image that says "Earth's biggest bookstore."
10:41AM "My Fruit Ninja skills are lacking." That's okay, Jeff. It's not really a skill-based game.
10:41AM Jeff's really putting a hurting on this produce.
10:40AM Okay, time for a little Fruit Ninja.
10:40AM Swipe down from the top brings down the status bar, lets you pause the music quickly.
10:40AM Jeff jumped back home and the music is still playing in the background while he's reading a book. Multi-tasking? Check.
10:40AM We're rolling in the deep here. Bass is thumping.
10:39AM Hey, it's Adele! Go figure.
10:39AM Okay, listening to some music.
10:39AM The tablet has Gorilla Glass protecting the LCD, which is good if you have claws like Beast.
10:39AM Beast is looking on incredulously.
10:38AM We're watching X-Men First Class now, Magneto is yanking a sub out of the ocean.
10:38AM Whatever movie you were watching, music you were listening to, etc.
10:38AM The list is ordered based on what you tapped most recently.
10:38AM ...and it remains to be seen whether you can actually get to Android, but signs are pointing to no.
10:38AM This is a very heavily-customized interface, naturally. It looks nothing like Android.
10:37AM There's a Newsstand fo rmagazines, books, music, video, docs (for personal documents), apps, and web.
10:37AM There's a search bar at the top that allows you to search the device, the web or Amazon itself -- naturally.
10:37AM Pre-registered with your Amazon credentials and has your library already.
10:37AM Again it says "Jeff's Kindle" up at the top, being friendly this Fire.
10:36AM Jeff's showing off the "lay of the land."
10:36AM "You won't have the frustration of needing to find your spot."
10:36AM "What if Whispersync also worked with movies and TV Shows? Well, it does. When you get home, switch to your big screen TV. Your movie will be right where you left it."
10:35AM Jeff's making a not-so-subtle jab at Apple's previous reliance on tethering.
10:35AM "We feel the same thing about syncing. Syncing should be done invisibly in the background -- and it should actually work."
10:35AM "Delete it and get it back when you want" says Jeff.
10:34AM Delete anything any time you want.
10:34AM ...full-color magazines, and all stored for free using Amazon Cloud Storage.
10:34AM 100,000 movies and TV shows, 17 million songs, access to the Android Appstore, Kindle books...
10:33AM Sure enough, it looks a lot like a BlackBerry PlayBook.
10:33AM "The answer is yes. It's called Kindle Fire."
10:33AM Wait for it...
10:33AM "Is there some way we can bring all of these things together into a remarkable product offering that customers would love."
10:33AM Okay, now it's time to tie it all together...
10:32AM Don't worry, we won't.
10:32AM It handles 290,000 transactions per second. "Don't try that at home" says Jeff.
10:31AM Now it's Amazon Web Services, with hundreds of thousands of customers in 190 customers. Services like Netflix, ESPn, Twitter run on it.
10:31AM Parnters include CBS, NBC Universal, and Fox. Mrs. Doubtfire is in the house, along with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
10:30AM "We're just getting started" says Jeff. Amazon has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to license content.
10:30AM That leads to Prime Instant Video -- 11,000 movies and TV shows commercial-free for no extra cost.
10:28AM And, there's Amazon Prime, with free two-day shipping for $79 a year. Millions of members, says Jeff.
10:28AM And there's the Android Appstore -- each app tested for quality, and you can try 'em out using the online simulator. That is a mighty fine service, if you've never tried it.
10:27AM Then there's the MP3 store with 17 million songs, some as cheap as $.69, and all playable anywhere via the Cloud Player.
10:27AM Okay, moving on to other things. Jeff is talking about Amazon's streaming services. 100,000 movies and shows, connectivity to 300 devices, etc. etc.
10:27AM We just watched a commercial about the new Kindle. It had two perky actors in it. That's about all we need to say about that.
10:26AM It's unclear whether that'll be built into the new Kindle, but that seems to be the case.
10:26AM They appear as screensavers, all with great photos and simple, understated ads.
10:25AM Jeff is showing off some of these ads, and it must be said, they look classy.
10:25AM You know, local spam instead of distant spam.
10:25AM Now they're adding Amazon Local, which will serve up "special offers in your own back yard."
10:25AM Now Jeff's moving on to the Special Offers kindle, which instantly became the best-selling model.
10:24AM Get those credit cards out, readers...
10:24AM Order today, ships today!
10:24AM It doesn't sound like this model will have the X-Ray feature, at least it's not being listed as having it.
10:24AM But hey, $79. That's pretty great.
10:23AM Has even faster page turns, and it does have buttons, but no touch screen and no keyboard.
10:23AM Another new model, this one with buttons. It's under six ounces and 18 percent smaller than the Kindle 3.
10:23AM Ahh, then we get the $79 Kindle.
10:23AM ...what indeed, Jeff?
10:23AM "What if you don't need touch... what if you don't want touch..."
10:22AM Pre-orders start today, shipping on November 21st.
10:22AM $50 for lifetime wireless data in 100 countries? Not too shabby.
10:22AM This one will set you back $149.
10:22AM Works in 100 countries, and has no annual contract, monthly fees, anything. "It's free 3G wireless."
10:21AM Looks exactly like the Touch, but has built-in 3G -- naturally.
10:21AM There's another model! Kindle Touch 3G.
10:21AM There are said to be other new features too, but X-Ray looks to be the big one.
10:21AM "Most advanced" E Ink display and what's said to be "extra long" battery life.
10:20AM Sure enough, the Kindle Touch is $99.
10:20AM Something tells us this Kindle's going to be available for less than $100.
10:20AM Like how bonkers the sales would be if the Kindle would drop under $100.
10:20AM Jeff is talking about what would happen if the Kindle was $99... teasing us a bit...
10:19AM Surely this means the books will be a good bit larger than currently, but perhaps extra storage here will mean it's not a concern.
10:19AM Amazon figures out what's relevant to your book's interests and sucks that down along with the books.
10:18AM The definition popped up almost instantaneously, because the Wikipedia info is actually downloaded with the text.
10:18AM For example, it pulled up a Wikipedia entry on the Versailles Treaty, because that's what's happening on this page in the book, Remains of the Day.
10:17AM This is deeper than simple word lookups, showing up facts about what's happening in the book, not just definitions.
10:17AM Jeff's showing off a new feature called X-Ray that popped up when he tapped the page.
10:17AM The interface looks even simpler than before. Location indicator on lower-left, percentage completed on lower-right.
10:17AM Demo time!
10:16AM It's an "easy reach" Jeff says to get either forward or backward, even with one hand.
10:16AM So, it uses the "easy reach" system. Tap in a narrow strip the left to go back, tap anywhere on the right to go forward.
10:15AM Jeff is talking about page turning buttons, to enable one-handed reading. It looks like the Kindle Touch doesn't have them...
10:15AM Color is a nice muted silver, it's a classy looking thing but, honestly, looks nothing like the current Kindles.
10:14AM "People are going to love this device" says Jeff.
10:14AM That means no keyboard, so the device is smaller and lighter than the current, third-generation model.
10:14AM It has an IR touch system, similar to the latest Nook and Kobo.
10:14AM New device!
10:13AM And here we go, Kindle Touch.
10:13AM And, Jeff of course wouldn't let us off the hook without reminding us that it's the best-selling e-reader in the world, and has been for the past four years.
10:13AM Kindle Singles is a new, "natural length" for content that fits between an article and a novel -- a much cooler term than novella, apparently.
10:12AM Basically, we're getting a run-down of what the Kindle already does. All good stuff, mind, but we're ready for the new goods.
10:11AM And thanks to Whispersync you'll always pick up where you left off, even if you mentally tuned out a page or two before.
10:11AM Jeff's listing off all the platforms which you can read Kindle on, which at this point is just about everything under the sun.
10:10AM "Buy once, read anywhere"
10:10AM She is a friendly lady, but her voice tends to drone a bit.
10:10AM You can download books any time you want, books can be read to you, and you can do Audible.com if you don't like listening to GPS lady.
10:09AM Except that it's not made of paper, of course...
10:09AM The screen on the current kindle is "like a printed page."
10:09AM Four years ago Amazon had 90,000 books. Today we're over a million -- and that doesn't include the copyright-free texts.
10:08AM Jeff is talking about how the Kindle already knows your name, right out of the box. It's a friendly device, that.
10:08AM "The question is: why is Kindle working? Why is this working? I believe it's because Kindle is an end-to-end service, and I believe it is because we have been inventing and improving that service at a rapid pace for the last four years."
10:07AM Physical book sales over the past 15 years have grown hugely, but in just four years Kindle sales have outpaced those.
10:07AM To succeed, Jeff is saying, Amazon had to create demand not only for the device but also for the content within the devices -- e-books.
10:06AM Jeff is talking about the Kindle skeptics, those who predicted that the original model would fail. "And fail terribly" according to one reviewer.
10:05AM "Four years ago we set out to improve upon the book..."
10:05AM "Thank you very much for finding the time to be with us this morning." And thank you, too.
10:05AM Jeff Bezos is on stage!
10:05AM ... but we're thinking there'll be more to love today.
10:05AM "I love my Kindle" is the message.
10:04AM People are talking up the eInk screen, the battery life, the size of the thing.
10:03AM We're getting some feedback from Kindle users, saying how much they love their e-readers.
10:03AM How about you?
10:03AM Okay, lights coming down. The news is out but we're still ready to party.
10:01AM What is confirmed? Whoever picked the music this morning likes Adele.
10:00AM But that's unconfirmed as of yet...
10:00AM We're still listening to some soul music here, waiting for the show to begin, but more news is leaking out. Looks like there's a $79 Kindle coming as well.
9:47AM We'll try to act surprised.
9:47AM Looks like someone just couldn't wait... http://www.engadget.com/2011/09/28/amazon-fire-tablet-unveiled-7-inch-display-199-price-tag/
9:47AM We're live at the event. Adele is setting fire to the rain and we're getting ready to go.