Kindle Fire ships a day early

Amazon says it's 'thrilled' to ship the tablet ahead of schedule

Amazon shipped its $199 Kindle Fire a day early, the company said in a statement released late Monday, and some reviews have already started piling up.

"We're thrilled to be able to ship Kindle Fire to our customers earlier than we expected," said Dave Limp, vice president of Amazon Kindle. "Kindle Fire quickly became the bestselling item across all of Amazon.com, and based on customer response we're building millions more than we'd planned."

Some reports indicated that Amazon had ordered 5 million of the devices from component makers; various analysts have predicted that Amazon will sell 5 million by year's end. By contrast, Apple could sell 20 million iPads in the fourth quarter, after selling more than 11.1 million in the third quarter.

The iPad starts at $499 for a 9.7-in. device, while the 7-in. Kindle Fire at $199 has been more closely compared to the $249 Nook Tablet, also with a 7-in. screen. Analysts predict the Nook Tablet, which goes on sale by Friday, will sell up to 2 million units by year's end.

In a breathless, run-on sentence describing the early shipment, Amazon chose to focus first on how the new device offers "18 million movies, TV shows, songs, books magazines, apps and games, as well as free storage of Amazon digital content in the Amazon Cloud, Whispersync for books and movies, a 14.6 ounce design that's easy to hold with one hand, a vibrant color touch screen, a powerful dual-core processor and Amazon Silk, Amazon's new revolutionary Web browser that accelerates the power of the mobile device by using the computing speed and power of the Amazon Web Service cloud, all for only $199."

Early reviews noted that the Fire lacks some of the features in the iPad, including a camera and microphone, but said that the brilliant screen and low price make up for the deficiencies.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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