Amazon seems to be gearing up to release an Android-based tablet. Can it carve out sizable market share against Apple's iPad?
Amazon tablet may soon be upon us. And unlike some other tablet manufacturers that
tried-and failed-to bend the touch-screen market in their favor, the online
retailer has a sizable chance of leaving a lasting impact.
MG Siegler recently had an opportunity to play with an early version of the
tablet and, in lieu of being able to snap photographs, did his best to describe
its capabilities. In addition to a custom Android interface (complete with a
tabbed Android Webkit browser and a dock for displaying available books and
movies), the device offers a 7-inch screen and 6GB of internal storage for
books and applications.
hardware features aren't necessarily enough to rock Apple's iPad back on its
heels or carve out a sizable niche among the Android tablets currently on store
shelves. However, Amazon offers an Android applications storefront in addition
to a full collection of multimedia offerings, which could allow it to compete
head-to-head against Apple's iTunes and App Store. Other tablet manufacturers
have been slow to build robust multimedia hubs, and their products rely on
Google's Android Marketplace for apps.
also boasts considerable marketing muscle, and its Kindle efforts have already
smoothed the path, so to speak, for people to perceive the retailer as an
effective mobile-technology producer.
the killer app of Amazon's tablet-which has yet to be officially unveiled-isn't
hardware or software. Nor is it Amazon's marketing or business skills. It's the
low starting price: $250, which considerably undercuts other tablets currently
Hewlett-Packard announced it would shut down production of its TouchPad tablet
and slashed the retail cost to a mere $99, customers turned out in droves to
purchase a respectable touch-screen device at a bargain. Amazon seems similarly
positioned to feed that hunger for a low-cost, quality tablet.
not to say that Amazon has an easy path to victory in tablets. For one thing,
it will have to compete against other Android tablets on the market, offered by
some very aggressive and well-funded companies. Also, analysts generally
predict that Apple's iPad will continue to command the lion's share of the
market, which could make things difficult for any upstart trying to establish
its own presence-whether or not the upstart in question is produced by one of
the most recognizable brands in the world.
based on MG Siegler's posting, it seems that Amazon is aiming squarely at the
consumer market with its tablet offering. That would effectively close off
businesses, which represent a growing segment of the tablet-buying population.
Amazon seems ready to make a splashy entrance into the tablet market. Whether
it can score iPad-size sales is more of a question.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.