Amazon.com's (NASDAQ:AMZN) customization of Android for its Kindle tablet could actually be better for the tablet market, according to an analyst.
TechCrunch reported earlier this month that the 7-inch, full-color Kindle tablet is based on Android 2.1, albeit with layers of customization on top that make it look nothing like the builds Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has produced.
The user interface, touch gestures and other features will be optimized for accessing Amazon content via its Website, which has just been upgraded with bigger buttons and spacing to make it more accessible via tablets.
Some Android developers and industry watchers would shrink from the notion of a new splinter of Android. Creative Strategies analyst Tim Bajarin noted that could be a good thing.
Amazon's brand could propel more development for its own content, creating a "better ecosystem" than what currently exists for tablets via Google's Android Market store, Bajarin said in a piece on PCMAG.com.
"Its reach is so broad that it can easily entice Android developers to create apps just for its version of the Android platform, sold exclusively through Amazon's own Android store," he added.
There are only over 100 Honeycomb applications, compared with over 100,000 applications for Apple's iPad. With Amazon behind it, the Kindle tablet ecosystem could foster tens of thousands of applications, if not more.
Moreover, he also expects Amazon would produce a more targeted set of developer guidelines and tools governing all applications created for the Amazon tablet. Amazon has already proven its willingness to do this with its Amazon Appstore rules.
The result, combined with a sub-$300 price point, is a product that folks such as actor Charlie Sheen would classify as "winning." Bajarin explained the following:
Thanks to Amazon's brand, the Kindle Tablet could quickly become the dominant Android tablet platform that developers support, with an Appstore that consumers will come to trust.
Amazon would make it harder for Samsung, HTC and other Android tablet vendors to compete with Apple and Amazon. That's assuming Apple's tablet litigation won't extend to Amazon to slow the emerging platform down the way it has ground Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 shipments to a halt overseas.
Amazon could ensure that Google and Motorola would create their own vertically integrated approaches to the market. "They would build a more competitive platform to take on Apple and Amazon." We'll believe that when we see it.
Amazon could worry that Apple was the only tablet maker with considerable clout in brand, applications and content, where Apple is strongest.
One could easily quibble with the last point, if only because all Android tablets have failed miserably to date. Consider the following about the Kindle Tablet.
Not everyone is as sanguine as Forrester Research, which expects the e-commerce giant could sell 3 million to 5 million units in the fourth quarter. Barclays analyst Anthony DiClemente predicted Amazon will see only 2 million Android tablets in 2011.
However, that number could soar to 6.4 million in 2012, which is not bad, but far less than the nearly 50 million iPads DiClemente expects to ship in 2012. It's hard to see how 6.4 million Kindle tablets sold can be construed as competitive to 50 million iPads.
But it's nice to know someone else with staying power is trying. Amazon could make the holidays interesting.