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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Kindle Fire Tear Down Details: It’s Less Expensive Than We Thought

One of the more obvious inevitabilities when a product like the Kindle Fire is released is a detailed tear down of the components.  It’s always interesting to find out what goes into making useful new electronics so functional, after all.  Recently iFixit was on the ball and ripped apart a new Kindle for our benefit.  Here’s what they found inside, along with some price estimates I was able to dredge up:

Part Estimated Price
Processor 1GHz TI OMAP 4430 $18
Display 7″ 1024 x 600 w/ IPS $35
Touchscreen Controller ILITEK
2107QS001K
A95B8F416
A2130B002
$25
Flash Memory 8GB Samsung KLM8GFEJA $8
RAM 512 MB Hynix H9TKNNN4K $5
Battery LI-ION Polymer 4400mAh/16.28Wh 3.7V $12
WLAN Jorjin WG7310 WLAN/BT/FM Combo Module $3
Misc Parts TI 603B107 Fully Integrated Power Management
TI LVDS83B FlatLink 10-135 MHz Transmitter
TI AIC3110 Low-Power Audio Codec w/ 1.3W Stereo Class-D Speaker Amplifier
TI WS245 4-Bit Dual-Supply Bus Transceiver
TI WL1270B 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi Solution Total ~$25
Other Materials Case, Assembly, Etc $7
Manufacturing Costs ~$5
Total: ~$143

All of this seems to indicate that earlier assumptions about the lack of profit to be found in such a device as this were blown out of proportion.  The Kindle Fire seems to be not only a versatile device, but surprisingly simple and efficient at the hardware level.  While my estimates for pricing are, as always, pulled from several sources and estimated when necessary, there seems to be a great deal of confirmation about the majority of it.  I feel fairly confident that that comes within +-$15 of the actual cost.

Much of the focus of the tear down I am pulling from was also on potential serviceability of the device.  The Kindle 4 non-Touch, as we outlined our previous in-house tear down, was practically unserviceable due to the extreme use of adhesive throughout.  While some of that remains in this model, apparently the only real difficulties will come in when trying to replace cracked glass (which won’t be much of an issue as our earlier posted drop/scratch test demonstrated) and during the initial removal of the battery.  Unlike the Kindle 4, it was possible to work past this without destroying the entire device.

They were also able to refute those who assumed that, due to the connection with Quanta Computer and the similar external appearance, the Kindle Fire would be nothing but a clone of the Playbook.  Internally, the two are only very vaguely similar.

Basically, not only is Amazon making at least some profit off of each device, they are doing so by presenting customers with an experience that rivals some of their more technically powerful competition at a price that people are having no small amount of trouble competing with.  It’s durable, seems to have a long lifespan ahead of it, and generally serves its purpose well.  As expected this carries nowhere near the punch of something like the iPad on a technical level, but in the end that shouldn’t come as any surprise given the asking price.  All in all the Kindle Fire definitely carried a couple surprises.  It will be interesting to see what the next generation brings aside from a slightly larger screen.

Kindle 4 Cost Breakdown

Recently Andrei managed to thoroughly break a perfectly good new Kindle 4 in his quest for ever more complete understanding of what’s going on inside our favorite devices.  The information and photos accompanying these posts got me thinking about Amazon’s new pricing gambit.  There’s a lot of focus right now on how cheap the Kindle Fire is being sold at, especially in light of the fact that recent reports have Amazon selling it at a loss, but nobody is really talking much about the fact that there is now a fully functional eReader connected to a major platform available for only $80.

Are they still making any money at all, or is this Kindle even more heavily subsidized than the Fire?  Let’s look into it a bit.  I’m not claiming any inside information beyond a working knowledge of searching the Internet, but what I found was fairly interesting.  The component list is based on the disassembly I mentioned:

  • 6″ E INK Display – ED060CF(LF)T1 REN60B7075(C62)
  • ARM Cortex-A8 CPU – MCIMX508CVK8B N78A 8TFC1130E
  • WLAN 802.11 b/g/n – Atheros AR6103T-BM2D 26AR0620.142D PAF284.1B 1126
  • Flash – SanDisk SDIN502-2G
  • Memory – Hynix H5MS2G22AFR E3M 129A
  • E INK Controller(?) – Winbond W25Q40BV
  • Power Management Chip – Texas Instruments SN92009 A4 TI 18IG2 AOR5 G4
  • Battery Controller – Freescale MC13892AJ CQQD129D
  • 30 Day Lithium Polymer Battery – 3.7V, 890mAh, MC-265360
  • Aluminum Case

Some of this was hard to find.  Other bits, like the Atheros AR6103T, don’t really seem to exist as far as the internet is concerned.  Where necessary I’m using best guesses, product families, and superficially equivalent parts for comparison.  After a bit of inquiry, here are the numbers I’m coming up with:

  • Display: $48 (Based on similar 6″ E INK Displays, no bulk pricing calculations)
  • CPU: $13
  • WLAN: $6 (Based on Kindle Fire breakdown by iSuppli. May be cheaper here since performance matters less)
  • Flash: $2.50 (Assuming similarity with previous models)
  • Memory: $1 (Researched as low as $0.01 in bulk orders.  Rounding up)
  • E INK Controller: $9
  • Power Management: $4 (Assuming similarity with previous models)
  • Battery Controller $3.50 (Rounding up from $3.32/1000 units.  Probably cheaper in batches of millions)
  • Battery: $3
  • Case: $5 (Assuming slightly more expensive than older Kindle models based on materials used)
  • Manufacturing Costs: $8 (Based on iSuppli Kindle Fire breakdown)
  • Other Materials: $10 (I’m sure I missed something)
    • Total Costs: $113

Given that I have done my best to be extremely conservative in these estimations, this should probably be considered an upper limit of the actual device costs.  Amazon will probably be quite a bit better at finding component discounts at this point than I am after my 48 hours or so of experience.  Even so, given that the basic model with no Special Offers integration is going for $109, I think I got pretty close.

One of the biggest things that I think we have to keep in mind with this new Kindle is that there is every indication this device is not meant to be serviced under any circumstances.  According to multiple reports so far, it is almost impossible to open the case without damage even if you know exactly what you are doing.  Even if that is accomplished, there was more glue used in this Kindle than makes sense.  It is clearly not meant to be serviced, either by customers or by Amazon themselves.  That means it has to be cheap enough for outright replacement of the hardware in the case of necessary servicing, with salvaging of little more than the E INK screens likely.

With this information, I think it is safe to say that Amazon won’t be throwing any money down a hole by subsidizing the Kindle 4.  They have gone above and beyond to build a new generation of the line that is far more cost effective than before while still offering maximum reading functionality.  Some money was definitely able to be saved by the exclusion of audio and touchscreen capabilities as well, of course.

The largest expense remains the E INK screen, but since this is the essential component of what makes a dedicated eReader worth having, it is hard to underestimate the importance.  You really can’t do without it and as yet I haven’t heard of any worthwhile substitutes.  For the moment this may mean that any further price drops will rely on the success of Kindle-based advertising.  With the baseline model already available for under $100, though, there’s not really much room left to complain about price.

Verdict: Amazon doesn’t loose money on Kindle 4 non-touch. Even with retail component prices, manufacture costs come very close to what device sells for. Kindle with special offers has been around for a while so it is safe to assume that Amazon know how much money they are going to make from advertising in the long run and it is reflected in $30 discount and the fact that you can remove special offers from your device for the same price of $30. It also seems that there is still room left for price reductions in the future.