Much speculation has been made the past few months on whether, or when, Amazon will introduce a tablet to enter the market and potentially rival Apple’s iPad. According to unnamed sources at Taiwan’s Digi Times, Amazon says over one million tablets will be shipped in the third quarter of 2011 making Amazon second only to Apple in terms of volume. Wow, really? Hasn’t that time period already ended?
Amazon hasn’t made an official announcement though a comment from CEO Jeff Bezos telling people to “stay tuned” seems to indicate either commitment to the project or blatant deception. Bezos has also mentioned that the new tablet will in no way replace the Kindle, which would continue to be offered as the best pure-reading device.
While the iPad is clearly the front runner in the tablet industry, Amazon will be joining a slightly crowded field with Acer, Dell, HP, Motorola and Samsung just to name a few. The field is already too large for everyone IMHO, and Apple’s dominance/customer loyalty makes one wonder how much of a dent the new Amazon Android tablet could make.
Additionally, Jeff Bezos probably never thought Amazon would be playing catch up with Barnes&Noble, but the brick and mortar company has seen great initial success with its Nook e-ink touch screen reader and Nook Color touch screen, both of which have been winning review competitions with organizations like Consumer Reports and CNET.
Has Amazon delayed too long? Perhaps, perhaps not. The internet power already has a few things going that could help it immensely in a tablet debut. These points come to mind:
1. Amazon customers have a loyalty that matches Apple’s. Some claim to buy everything beyond groceries and gas from the online megastore, and that Amazon’s customer support is second to none.
2. Amazon isn’t new to this game. In fact, just the opposite is true as their R&D for handheld wireless has been around for years. Incorporating the touch screen and adding some functionality in the form of powerful hardware to their existing device doesn’t sound like much of a stretch.
3. Amazon already has its own digital content stores for video, MP3 music, App Store for Android, Cloud Player for Android, and (obviously) ebooks. The infrastructure is in place for unparalleled advertising and promotion. If any tablet maker would have a head start coming out into a crowded field, it would be Amazon.
4. Price. Because Amazon’s main business is online sales for just about anything, they can afford to sell the Kindle (and a tablet), incredibly cheap. This is something that sets Amazon apart from the other Apple competitors. It’s conceivable to reduce tablet price by including them with a monthly subscription to other Amazon products and services. When thinking of the possibilities, pricing could get interesting here.
Just recently a Motorola Xoom was my latest gadget expense. Should I have waited another fiscal quarter on Jeff Bezos to explain if he was just kidding around or not? I do love my Xoom, but I certainly would have taken a hard look at an Amazon tablet before doing anything.
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