With HP's TouchPad all but expired, could Amazon provide a true competitor to Apple's premium tablet product? There is little doubt that Amazon will launch a tablet, but how it is marketed is the key to success.
Into the Tablet Jungle
Pretty much everyone that has decided to compete against the iPad has run into a sizable brick wall. Despite the Apple product's high price, people seem willing to pay it and those that have manufactured products of equal quality (in hardware terms) have seen slow-to-negligible sales. Only when HP's TouchPad price crashed to less than US$ 100 did anyone show much interest.
Sony, with its soon-to-be-released Android tablet, must be deeply concerned. But Amazon will be taking a different approach. The company has already seen success with its reasonably priced Kindle e-book readers and has an Apple-rivaling massive store of its own digital goods from books, music and video, plus its own app store that could take a chunk of Apple's massive market share.
By betting some revenue will come its way though the use of Amazon stores on its tablet, the company can offset some of the cost of its own tablet, expected to be on sale in October. It can also expect that many customers who buy it are intent on buying a media-consumption device and not some super-specified computing device, so it can use decent spec, but not cutting-edge parts.
An early analyst estimate suggests the company could sell some three to five million tablets, and while the iPad 2 and 3 should still dominate sales among the technology-aware public, the tens of millions of Amazon.com store customers could see the device as a neat media-playing device (and ideal gift) without the baggage of brand or OS considerations.
If that happens, Amazon could become the method by which other Android-powered tablets are sold, with all the app and communication extras considered as neat extras. Microsoft has already announced that its Windows 8 tablets will come with an app store, but again could struggle among tech-aware consumers who will see those as a late entrant to the market.
By having its tablet follow the Kindle's success by being light, friendly, offering good battery performance and as a conduit to Amazon's stores, the company could build enough of a difference between it and other tablets to make a mark and compete alongside Apple's iPad, without making the mistake of trying to compete against it.
With Amazon's growing moves into cloud-based movies and music, this new tablet could be the ideal device for a growing era of digital consumers. It is moving into that field purely from the shopping for entertainment side, and not those who start out as computer-types who focus on technology first.