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Kindle Fire extends Android gaming market

by Kristen Nicole

The Amazon Kindle Fire was finally unveiled yesterday, introducing another Android-powered tablet to contend with the domineering iPad. The Kindle Fire doesn’t come with all the features the iPad has, and is arguably less attractive hardware-wise than other Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. What the Kindle Fire does have, however, is a strong ecosystem backed by Amazon, combining a curated app store, a publisher hub and access to the whole of Amazon’s marketplace, all for a reasonable price at $199.

Media-centric Kindle Fire is ready to play

During the Kindle Fire demo yesterday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos touted a 7-inch tablet that’s steeped in media prowess, with a dual-core processor, a 1024x600 multi-touch screen, Flash support and optimized color and media. It’s a far departure from previous Kindle models, which were focused on e-reading, lacking color and media enhancements beyond reading digital books. The updated features and color support make the Kindle Fire an appealing platform for the booming mobile gaming industry, and Amazon is smart to tap into Android’s existing marketplace to rapidly extend its own.

Boosting an established Android ecosystem

The Kindle Fire doesn’t come with gyroscopic sensors, and its Wi-Fi only capabilities mean limited connectivity for downloading games. But Amazon’s clearly targeting the gaming market, demonstrating popular titles during the keynote yesterday, including Angry Birds. Having already set up a promotions-driven app store that thrives on games, Amazon’s just created another outlet for extending control of this portion of the market. As the Kindle Fire is an Android-based tablet, game developers have to do very little to optimize their titles for Amazon’s newest device. With efforts to streamline the app market experience, game developers may find benefits in distributing through Amazon, and users get a pre-filtered app store to minimize research and browsing. Even though Android’s at the base of several specialized app storefronts found through carrier offerings and independent search engines, this third party act of organizing apps for varied audiences is becoming a regularly used tactic.

It’s a wide ecosystem Android’s building, able to take credit for some of the Kindle Fire’s success. Android also has Amazon to thank, as the online retailer has boosted consumer access to pragmatic Android tablets. With a ship date of November 15, the Kindle Fire will hit stores just as the holiday season rolls in, and that’s when the magic happens.