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Amazon’s Tablet Could Be the First Non-iPad Success

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We all know that Amazon has a tablet up its sleeve. We know it will launch sometime before the holidays, and we know that it will run Android. There may even be two of them. Now Digitimes reports that Amazon is placing orders for 1-1.2 million of these tablets for the third quarter – second only to Apple. With Android tablet sales getting utterly humiliated by the iPad, is Amazon being overly optimistic?

Is Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about to look really cool?

While Honeycomb-running tablets have sold – across the board – not well at all, Amazon may have reason to hope for something different. As we’ve said before, they have several ingredients in place that are closer to Apple’s (undisputedly successful) closed system than what any other tablet-makers can offer.

Control

Amazon’s decision to open their own Android app store seemed a little puzzling earlier this year. Now it makes perfect sense. The Amazon App Store will come pre-installed on all of their tablets, and will be the primary way that users get apps. With that one move, they have matched one of Apple’s advantages – controlling the software platform.

With this, Jeff Bezos and company can make deals with app developers to make optimized versions of their apps for tablets. In return for this investment, the developers can give them exclusive rights to sell the apps for a period of time. Honeycomb’s lack of tablet-specific apps is humiliating next to the iPad’s library. With their App Store, Amazon can put the financial resources into development that are necessary to move things along.

Media

The retailer also likely has content streaming lined up for these devices. While rentals would be a solid move, launching a Netflix-esque movie and television streaming app that is pre-installed on their tablet would be a huge boon for sales. Throw in free access for a few months to tablet buyers and you have a potentially hot holiday item.

Price

Relying on sales or subscriptions from bundled book, video, and music content could also allow them to subsidize some of the costs and possibly sell it for cheaper than the iPad. The lower they can afford to drop its price, the better its chances will be.

Aesthetics

Amazon could also create their own custom user interface for Honeycomb. While many Android users are fiercely loyal to a “vanilla” look, Honeycomb could definitely use a makeover. It has a dark appearance, which doesn’t help its aesthetic appeal. Sitting next to an iPad, with its simple and colorful homescreen, it isn’t outrageous to think that many have – consciously or subconsciously – gravitated towards the iPad for that reason alone. If Amazon brings out its best guns to give it a bright and sexy look, that’s another feather in its tablet’s cap.

Kindle

Another weapon in their arsenal is one simple word: Kindle. Millions already own Kindles, and even those who don’t may still buy Kindle books for other devices. By marketing their tablet around the familiar Kindle brand, Amazon can frame their tablet as an exciting new evolution of a product people already know and love. It may sound petty, but this helps distract buyers from the “is it better than an iPad?” question. One need look no further than the relative success of Barnes & Noble’s (almost tablet) Nook Color for proof of concept.

Of course it is still possible that Amazon’s upcoming tablet(s) will crash and burn just like the XOOM, G-Slate, and Galaxy Tabs (largely) have. Amazon will still be beaten handily by Apple no matter how “successful” their slate is. But it could also be the first Android tab that will at least put up a fight and steal some measurable chunk of holiday buyers away from Apple.

Having previously written for Android Central and Android Police, Will is shifting his focus to iOS at GottaBeMobile (without neglecting his old pal Android, of course). He lives in Chicago with his wife, Jess, and is on Twitter at @willshanklin

20 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    07/09/2011 at 10:59 am

    What has been missing from Android in general?  Uniformity and support.  The Samsung Galaxy, as nice as it is, simply doesn’t have the corporate support from Samsung that it needs to thrive.  The same can be said for all the others, too.

    Amazon.Com can change that game by putting its corporate weight behind an Android Tablet…  Apple should be watching this one closely – the hounds are closing in…

  2. Anonymous

    07/09/2011 at 2:36 pm

    I totally agree. Amazon can change the game. Their tablet needs to be Kindle thin and a manageable 7 to 8 inches though or I wouldn’t look twice at it. 

  3. Rebecca

    07/09/2011 at 4:38 pm

    I’d love a smaller than iPad tablet but, ultimately, it’s the apps that are sending me to Apple. My investment firm offers apps for every platform but WinMo, which is what I have. But iOS has gorgeous travel apps. Still, if Amazon can make an actual tablet as opposed to the color Nook’s almost tablet, I may go for that. 

    I can’t decide if it’s better to have the same platform on both phone and tablet. I may have to stick with iPhone to do Face Time with my kids.

    So many things to consider…sigh.

    • Anonymous

      07/09/2011 at 5:50 pm

      Apple has a crazy devoted group of developers who can be certain that devices running iOS can run their app, and that will be difficult to overcome for niche-ware like business and travel apps.

      If everyone and their cousin didn’t have their own ARM SoC, things would be easier.

    • Anonymous

      07/09/2011 at 5:50 pm

      Apple has a crazy devoted group of developers who can be certain that devices running iOS can run their app, and that will be difficult to overcome for niche-ware like business and travel apps.

      If everyone and their cousin didn’t have their own ARM SoC, things would be easier.

  4. Alain Chappaz

    07/10/2011 at 6:16 pm

    If anyone can beard Apple in the tablet market, it’s Amazon. I am, however, bummed at the likelihood that, as is often the case, we Canadians will be left out in the cold for a couple of years.

  5. Tablet Cases

    07/11/2011 at 1:03 pm

    maybe that movie streaming feature will be their money breaker. 

    provided amazon innovates with their tablet (like with kindle) they might have a chance of getting a bigger market share. 

  6. Han

    07/11/2011 at 1:20 pm

    I have a Galaxy Tab 10.1, but I’ll be rooting for the Amazon ones to succeed bigtime.

  7. Arendth

    07/12/2011 at 11:21 pm

    you are all missing the point.  It can be summized in one word “whispernet”  I am vacationing in mexico today.  Today I read the New York times for free on my kindle using whispernet.  The phone companies are bragging about 4g speed and charging $10.00 per gig.  How about a low speed connection for free.  What would be missing?  Only video!

  8. David Green

    09/30/2011 at 6:24 pm

    Amazon has customer loyalty, good support and amazing infrastructure. The only thing missing is serious hardware integration. It’s going to be a balancing act between not over-selling Amazon services to tablet owners and leaving the Android OS somewhat native for those familiar with Android.

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