Amazon Pushes its Digital Services with New Kindle Fire HDX

Kindle plans to unveil two new versions of its Kindle Fire tablet today, featuring a faster processor and graphics, improved screen quality and a lighter, slimmer design. The Kindle Fire HDX, available with 7-inch or 8.9-inch screens, will undercut the price of competitors including Apple’s popular iPad and, not surprisingly, focus on sales of services such as digital music and e-books. “We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

“One new software feature, known as X-Ray for Music, allows users to identify by name songs in television shows and movies — at which point they are prompted to buy a digital version from Amazon,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Also new to the devices is integration of book recommendation and sales site Goodreads, which the company bought earlier this year.”

Users who have an Amazon Prime membership will be able to download videos that are available for free. Previously, the videos required a Wi-Fi connection in order to view them. The tablets tout a 2,560 x 1,600 low-glare HD display. The new Kindle also adds a rear-facing camera — and the Mayday feature allows users to easily call live tech support.

“Amazon’s approach contrasts with rivals like Apple and Samsung, which generate hefty profits from the devices themselves,” notes the article. “From their introduction two years ago, Amazon’s tablets have stood out chiefly for their low prices and deeply integrated Amazon-specific software.”

The 7-inch version of the Kindle Fire HDX will start at $229, while the 8.9-inch version will start at $379 (add $100 for models with 4G wireless connectivity). Apple’s iPad Mini starts at $329 and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab starts at $299. The new Surface 2, just announced by Microsoft, starts at $449.