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Amazon Responds To Kindle Fire Complaints

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Amazon is planning to fix a number of reported niggles, with an over-the-air update for the Kindle Fire

Amazon is apparently working on updates to its Kindle Fire tablet in response to a number of complaints by disgruntled users.

The Kindle Fire may be on track to sell over four million units this Christmas, but many early adopters have opted to return it to the retailer rather than put up with a number of hardware and software “deficiencies”.

Kindle Burning

According to The New York Times, users have been dismayed at the lack of external volume controls, slow web browsing, cumbersome touchscreen controls, the absence of privacy options, and the ease with which the off switch can be accidentally triggered.

As with the e-book Kindle before it, Amazon said that the tablet is the most successful product it has ever released and it is producing more to meet demand, but it has acknowledged that it is working on improvements in order to appease discontented users.

“In less than two weeks, we’re rolling out an over-the-air update to Kindle Fire,” said Drew Herdener, a company spokesman. Planned updates include improvements in performance, multi-touch navigation and improved privacy options.

However, this may not be enough to convince Danish usability consultant Jakob Nielsen who said the Kindle Fire offered a “disappointingly poor” experience and stated “I can’t recommend buying it”.

It is speculated that Amazon is already working on an improved device but, Nielsen warns, “If that’s a failure, then the Fire is doomed to the dust pile of history.”

Virtual Store

The Kindle Fire Is Amazon’s first tablet and has been widely seen as a genuine pretender to the market leading iPad’s throne, a view supported by its impressive initial sales figures.

The tablet runs a modified version of Google’s Android mobile operating system, has a 1024 x 500 multi-touch display, 8GB storage, a dual core Texas Instruments OMAP4 processor, and boasts a battery life of eight hours reading or seven and a half hours of video playback.

Much of the Kindle Fire’s appeal rests in its competitive price of just $199 (£126), despite apparently costing $210 (£133) to produce. Amazon is probablywilling to sell the tablet as a loss-leader as it sees the Kindle range as vital to its strategy of becoming a virtual store from which users download movies, music and books onto their devices. In a similar marketing strategy as inkjet printer firms accept hardware losses for consumables’ profits – primarily on replacement ink cartridges.

Amazon has not disclosed an official release date for the Kindle Fire, but recent rumours suggested that it could hit UK shelves as early as January.