The web is abuzz with rumors of a pending Google Tablet to challenge, not perhaps the Apple iPad juggernaut, but Kindle's new "Fire," in what some are calling the next "Fire fighter." And with smoke from the Italian press, kindling from an upstream Taiwan component supplier, and perhaps a grain of truth thrown in the mix, we get to the core of how these things get started in the first place.
For the record, Google's Chairman, Eric Schmidt, told the Italian press, Corriere Della Sera.it, in mid-December that it plans to "market a tablet of the highest quality" in the next six months. Fast-forward to today, where DigiTimes, a Taiwanese news service, tracking that nation's major component suppliers, reported news of a 7-inch class tablet in the works, based on sources from Google's up-stream supply chain.
Low Cost 'Fire Fighter' From Google?
Details of the tablet from the Digitimes source include a March-April time frame for release, Android 4.0 and a price point of US$ 199, set to compete against the zero-profit Kindle Fire, sold by Amazon to help boost digital e-book content sales like razors to razor blades.
Google Trends shows lack of interest in iPad competitors until Kindle and Nook
And that's just the point. Of the hundred-plus tablets that shipped since the initial launch of iPad by Apple, in April 2010, only two, the B&N Nook Color and Amazon Kindle Fire, have gained meaningful traction. Arguably, some other products like Samsung's Galaxy Tab have done better than most, but analysts agree that, with almost 75% market share by the end of 2011, the iPad dominates the space and few real competitors have emerged.
It's the Ecosystem...
The reason is not the tablet itself, but the experience. "Amazon, and to a lesser degree Barnes & Noble, is selling more than hardware; they are selling an experience and a window into a world of content. Apple not only sells content but welcomes their customers into an entire ecosystem of tech. It’s clear, the days of selling undifferentiated hardware have come and gone," according to a recent Blog from Retrevo.com that tracks the space. To back this up, it used data from Google Trends that shows support for a lack of interest in iPad competitors until the Fire and Nook tablets came to market. The blog concludes, "It’s clear, the days of selling undifferentiated hardware have come and gone."
And if it is right, until Google, and company figure this out, Apple, Amazon and B&N will have the market to themselves.