Mubaloo Blows Hot and Cold on Kindle Fire

There has been much excitement today over Amazon’s launch of the Kindle Fire, a 7-inch Android tablet, promising ultra-fast web browsing; a colour touchscreen with extra-wide viewing angle; and free cloud storage for Amazon content.

The device will offer access to over 100,000 movies and TV shows from Amazon Instant Video, including thousands of new releases and popular TV shows, available to stream or download, purchase or rent. Amazon Prime Members also enjoy instant, unlimited, commercial-free streaming of over 11,000 movies and TV shows at no additional cost. Buyers get Amazon Prime thrown in free for one month.

Fire users can also access over 17,000,000 songs from Amazon MP3; over 1m Kindle books; 100 exclusive graphic novels; hundreds of magazines and newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and  The New Yorker; and Android apps and games.

The device also features the Amazon Silk browser, using what Amazon calls “split browser” architecture that accelerates the power of the mobile device hardware by using the computing speed and power of the Amazon Web Services Cloud. The Silk browser software resides both on the device and on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). With each page request, Silk dynamically determines a division of labour between the mobile hardware and Amazon EC2 that takes into consideration factors like network conditions, page complexity, and cached content. The result, the company says, is a faster web browsing experience.

The devices weighs in at 14.6 ounces, and sports a 7-inch full colour LCD touchscreen display that is chemically strengthened to be 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic, making it incredibly durable capable of  standing up to accidental bumps and scrapes, according to Amazon.

We asked app developer Mubaloo what they made of the launch. Scott Bown, senior Android developer at Mubaloo, told us: “The Kindle Fire left us with both cold and hot feelings. On the one hand, by introducing the device at a low price, consumers will be able to purchase an innovative media, gaming and reading tablet. On the other hand, the Fire will add to Android’s fragmentation issues, making it more difficult and costly for developers to bring out cross-platform apps.

“There are many reasons for this. Firstly, because the Fire runs a heavily modified version of the Android OS, developers will need to programme apps for Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich and Amazon. This will also add to the amount of time and effort that will need to be put into the testing process to ensure that consumers benefit from the best experience from their favourite apps.

“Secondly, there will be an increase in the submission process, due to Amazon introducing an approval, which many developers will not be familiar with. While this is a good thing to ensure the quality and safety of apps, it will add certain costs to the development process. Finally, as the Fire doesn’t link to a Google account, many of the features Android developers currently take for granted, such as Google’s free push notifications, will not be there.

“Due to the price point, and the wealth of content Amazon is making available to buyers of the Fire, it is easy to presume that this will be a hugely successful product. It is evident that the Fire is firmly a media consumption device. With the Silk browser promising to speed up web pages, reducing a big advantage of native apps, it adds extra weight to the argument to develop cross-platform web apps.”

The Kindle Fire goes on sale in the US on15 November.