The Burning Fire

The Kindle Fire is out now. Big freakin’ whoop, right?


A couple of months ago, I told my wife to go ahead and start saving up for my Fire, ’cause come Christmas time, that’s what I wanted Santa to put in my stocking. And so the story goes.

As Amazon has released the thing this week, amid competition from B&N’s Nook tablet (am I the only one who hates that name? I don’t know why either.), and some of the reviews are in. It seems to be a mixed bag; some of the people are talking about the tablet in relation to its price (thereby forgiving some of the potential technical issues), while others only refer to it in the greater scheme of tablets at large.

Which got me thinking: if price impacts ratings, how far can we extend that mentality?

Do we buy a shitty car because of its near-disposable pricetag? Hyundai would say “yes.”

Do we buy those crappy DVDs that wind up in the bargain bin, beckoning us with their $1 price tag? My 80’s movie collection would suggest that is the case.

Does a crappy tablet, one that is basically a content-delivery device (as opposed to what, I wonder?) justify the $199 price-point? If not, what is the amount that we are willing to pay? I’m not sure if I want a not-quite-big-enough-to-enjoy-emagazines-tablet for 200 bucks. And growing up tinkering with the family’s 8088 computer back in the day (you know, the one that booted into DOS) has left with me a hesitancy to deal with technology that doesn’t allow you to manipulate it on the most basic level. You get a Fire, you go straight to Amazon for your content. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

Amazon is probably losing some money on this, which should be a warning flag. Why would a company be willing to lose money on something like this, a product that might sell 5 million units? Well, the same reason why sometimes it’s okay to give away some chapters and songs and crack: it makes the consumer come back for more. And Amazon is hoping that the Fire is a portal to Amazon content, making people more easily consume consume consume.

So I’m not sure what’s going to happen after all of this. There’s a good chance that a lot of people (shit, around 5 million people maybe) will go out there and get their grubby mitts on the Fires as they sweep across the land. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because that’s 5 million more people who could potentially be buying books and reading newspapers and all that stuff. It’ll probably be 5 million more people playing Angry Birds or something, though.

But there are some of us who want tablets in people’s hands. Not because of some ultra-technophile reason, but because we have stories to tell, and there are more options than just printed text on page.