Rumor has it that Amazon is preparing a Kindle tablet that should launch by the end of the year. This is exciting new for the tablet market, as it’s been dominated by the Apple iPad so far.
Amazon could be just the company to present a competitor with sales volumes similar to the iPad. Allow me to explain why this upcoming tablet could be a serious challenge for everyone else.
It’s About The Money
As competitors to the iPad have been released, their prices have surprised many. Traditionally, Apple has been a luxury brand, particularly in the laptop and desktop markets. With the iPad however, there’s not much of a premium to be paid. The entry-level model is accessible at $499.
Part of the reason why Apple has managed to keep prices low despite excellent hardware is the app store. When a consumer buys an iPad, they are not just handing Apple the purchase price of the tablet. They’re also buying into an ecosystem where every song, every app, and every movie purchased funnels a bit more dough into the vaults of Cupertino.
Android tablets so far have not been able to harness this because they’ve used Google’s Android Marketplace. Amazon has its own app marketplace however, as well as its own services for books, music and movies. Rumor has it that the Kindle tablet will start at $250, and the fact that Amazon can sell the tablet as a loss-leader no doubt contributes to this very low price.
The Complete Experience
The fact that Amazon has a complete line of services to bundle with its tablet is also an advantage. Many geeks, including your truly, have bemoaned the fact that Apple’s iPad is bound to the app store unless it is jailbroken. For the average consumer, this is preferable. It provides a simple, consistent user interface.
Although it will be based on Android, rumor has it that Amazon will customize the operating system and integrate its own storefront into the device. This should give consumers a better user interface, which will make the device less frustrating to use than your average Android Honeycomb device.
Sized For Your Pleasure
One aspect of tablet design I’ve never understood is the insistence on a ten-inch form factor. This is something that I don’t think Apple has right. While a larger display does allow for more pixels and a better multimedia experience, it also creates a device that’s a bit heavy and difficult to handle without two hands free.
BlackBerry’s PlayBook, which I generally don’t like, did prove to be much easier to wield than its competitors. Rumor has it that the Kindle tablet will be of similar size, with a seven-inch display. If that is true, they’ll have created a device that strikes the perfect balance between usability and portability.
Clash Of The Marketing Departments
Marketing has long been one of Apple’s greatest strength. The brand’s image is reinforced by a wide range of TV and online ads, and Apple’s prominence ensures that the company’s new products are fondled by the press. It’s free advertising!
Companies like Acer, ASUS and even Motorola simply don’t have the same excitement behind them, but Amazon is in a better position. The company is still considered an innovator and is, of course, the web’s biggest online store. This gives Amazon the marketing platform required to launch a successful device, as the original Kindle proved. While there’s no doubt that Apple’s brand is stronger, Amazon is at least in the same ballpark.
Please note that while I am comparing Amazon’s tablet to the iPad, I’m not suggesting that the Kindle will “kill” the iPad, or any such nonsense. In fact, if the pricing rumors are correct, the Kindle tablet will only partially compete with the iPad.
Still, the Kindle tablet would be the first product to present a serious challenge to the iPad. Will it slow Apple’s sales, or will the iPad juggernaut continue on without hesitation? I’ll leave those predictions to you.
Image Credit: Engadget