After much speculation and waiting with baited breath, the world’s largest online retailer finally unveiled its Kindle Fire tablet. While I have yet to have any hands-on time with this device, Amazon.com, with this 7-inch screen tablet, seems to have it sights set on the Apple iPad market.

Small enough to fit into a lapel pocket, Kindle Fire features a backlit screen and allows you to access Amazon’s app store, streaming movies, and TV shows. It’s clearly smaller in size and has no e-Ink like its former reader, and coincidentally, is about half the price, meaning it might just take a bite out of the traditional tablet market, which is suffering from figuring out the right pricing model. So far, most of the tablets seem to be too pricey for consumers. The Kindle Fire is selling for only $199, compared with Apple’s cheapest iPad sticker of $499. It also appears the Kindle Fire will run on Google Andriod’s software.

I would be remiss if I didn’t note that the Kindle Fire is lacking in some areas. It doesn’t have an embedded camera or a microphone and there’s no 3G cellular access. The device does offer Wi-Fi connectivity and comes with a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime. The device is expected to be available in mid-November and pre-orders began today.

Amazon is betting that it can give Apple’s iPad a real run for its money. To date, other tablet vendors have not been as successful competing against the best-selling tablet. The HP TouchPad, the BlackBerry PlayBook, the Samsung, Galaxy Tab, and the Motorola XOOM have all failed to attract mass audiences and have fallen short of expectations. Analysts report that Apple has sold around 29 million iPads and has captured some 68% share of the tablet market.

There is no question that Apple has really jumpstarted the consumer-tablet market and set the standard with ease-of-use, slick design, unprecedented apps that appear to be limitless. It will certainly be interesting to see if Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Co., can put a dent on the stranglehold that Apple has on the tablet market.

Personally, I’d like to see a good marketing fight. I think consumers will be the winner with great content selection and better consumer electronics. Let’s not forget there is talk that Barnes & Noble has plans to unveil its New Nook Color 2 in the near future pitting its new tablet-friendly ereader against Amazon and others as well. So we have more exciting connected devices coming to market. And it looks like we might begin to see the best of the best consumer electronics players fighting it out for marketshare and your dollars.

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