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New Kindle SD price point very seductive to CIOs -- and consumers

Amazon's Kindle SD is a low-cost tablet for the masses. Will CIOs jump? Our latest CIO Matters column discusses the tidal shift in consumerization.

Remember last year when the Amazon Kindle Fire price beat everyone's expectations by about $50 to $100? Jaw, prepare to be dropped. The new Amazon Kindle Fire -- the Kindle SD -- has a 7-inch screen and is purported to be 44% faster, and have a better battery life and more RAM. And oh yeah, it's supposed to cost $40 less than its predecessor -- and less than the closest competing products, the Google Nexus 7 and Barnes and Noble's forthcoming Nook Tablet. And no, that low price for the Kindle SD is not ad supported.

Wendy SchuchartWendy Schuchart,
site editor

There's a tidal shift occurring in the consumerization space. Forget Moore's Law -- this is Scrooge McDuck's law. What we're seeing now is a half-life for consumerization pricing that's about the span of a year. Now we're almost talking pocket change. A cheap Kindle SD means that tablet devices could soon become as disposable as the old flip phones of yore (now I'm really dating myself). IPads have always been seen as status symbols, with only an elite, blessed few early adopters toting around the stylized little glass slates. But soon the tablet device could be as common as a belly button -- everyone will have one.

When we talk about the consumerization of IT, there's sometimes a fantastical element to it, a sort of Minority Report future that feels a little impossible. And yet, here we have a Kindle SD that my 14-year-old niece could buy with her back-to-school allowance. If the Kindle SD's appropriateness for business use is still up for debate, the low cost of entry might entice midmarket CIOs to experiment with tablet devices in applications they might not have considered before. Hey, a tablet for less than the cost of your average lunch meeting? That fits in even the tightest budget.

I still carry my original Kindle -- an object that's quickly achieving antique status, with its little buttons and no illumination (other than what you get by absorbing pithy works of literature on it, I suppose). The little E Ink screen doesn't even respond when you touch it. You have to tab down with an itty-bitty button to the line, then tab over to highlight a word. It feels positively Victorian at this point. And to think I paid almost $200 for that thing! From a technology standpoint, what Amazon is doing is very interesting: Each year, it releases new versions of its product while lowering the price significantly -- at least enough to give a solid Apple fan girl pause. Amazon's business practice is very much unlike that of a certain corporation in Cupertino, Calif.

My big prediction for the Kindle SD: Its very reasonable price point will be enough to sway many cautious consumers into trying the tablet phenomenon for themselves. CIOs should expect a rise in Wi-Fi and network usage from people who never seemed the type to engage in mobile gadgetry. The Kindle SD will be a gateway device for many new mobile workers.

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