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Amazon and a Potential iPad Killer Tablet



First, let’s dispense with the killer thing. Whenever a company makes an announcement of a product (or there is speculation that they will) those who use keyboards for a living are quick to hit the macro that spits out text calling it a possible killer, with the reigning champion in that category being the one to be killed. That sometimes results in a kiss of death to the product when expectations aren’t met.

In fact, in recent time, it’s been new product categories that have “killed” or cannibalized existing market segments. Witness Netbooks and the iPad. Some (if not many) were quick to say that the iPad was going to kill off the eBook reader segment, especially the Amazon Kindle. So far that doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, although we don’t know numbers, the Kindle looks to be doing quite well thank you. Amazon recently announced that it was going to offer an even lower priced Kindle that would be subsidized by advertising. This has led to much speculation, or has added to existing speculation, that Amazon is readying its own iPad killer in the guise of a Tablet of its own.

Well, I would imagine that Amazon is indeed looking at something like that. It only makes sense. The question is whether or not Amazon will ever bring it to market. Let’s assume Amazon does for the sake of discussion. That’s a big assumption because it assumes quite a bit. Amazon’s recent moves supporting the Android platform with a music player, that followed its opening of an App Store for Android Apps, certainly points where it is going, and on some levels it makes the assuming easier.

Since we’ve assumed, here is why I think Amazon could succeed. It’s called the retail structure. Amazon, like Apple, has  a retail structure to push hardware, software, and content. Amazon is all retail and knows how to do that well. There’s  no ramp up involved. I’d argue that Apple’s success has as much to do with its retail prowess and presence as it does with its products. If you buy that argument it isn’t far fetched to think Amazon could very well succeed with a Tablet of its own. It certainly has a better shot than most of the other companies trying to get in the Tablet game. In fact, I would agree with Andy Ihnatko, and go a little further by saying that Amazon has the only realistic shot.

Marco Arment, the developer of the very popular App, Instapaper, raises some interesting points about that as well in a post over this past weekend. As he discusses the potential competition fight that could ensue, with, I might add, the rules that Apple has already put in place, his post suggests that this is a bigger fight than I think many are currently speculating about. I think he’s correct.

Would an Amazon Tablet be an iPad killer? I doubt it. Would it create a horse race? In my view, absolutely.



  1. Anonymous

    04/18/2011 at 7:04 pm

    It’s an interesting idea.
    I am surprised though that everyone talks about the ipad in relation to a possible kindle tablet, but nobody talks about the nook color.
    Nook color has been a big success.
    And amazon’s core product is still books.
    Now – you can get a kindle app for just about anything.
    But one interesting aspect of nook color is the kid’s books.
    I’d be curious to know how those sell for them as it adds a truly unique product which kindle can’t currently match and in a category (kids books) which is huge.

    On another note, I would not agree that amazon is the only one placed to succeed well against ipad.

    The android tablet juggernaut is just starting to warm its engines.
    Any number of players could succeed with it.

    In many ways the tablets are just a new category of computer and there are many large manufacturers which I think have the ability to compete there.

    One interesting difference to the netbook craze which swept through is the ipad itself.
    While early netbooks tried for a lighter OS, the push of MS combined with the idea that one needed MS office to truly live in the world had them soon switching to redmond brand OS.
    Too bad as it weighed down the available hardware badly I think.

    Today we have something quite different though. Akin to how prius has taught the world that electric and car go well together, ipad has gone a long way to showing the world that you don’t need a big bloated OS or your grandfather’s favorite apps (office) to be in this world and get stuff done.
    I think the biggest legacy apple might give to tablets (other than the app store concept) is that an OS other than windows is just fine and quite capable.

  2. donfelipe

    04/19/2011 at 8:19 am

    If I were Apple I would be afraid of Amazon making its own tablets. Rightfully, Amazon could create the iPad killer tablet. Amazon has created some fine online tools. I am impressed with Amazon’s tools. But the iPad 2 is a huge success and it is selling well on my website. You can even get a free iPad 2 on my website if you follow certain conditions.

  3. Arendth99

    04/19/2011 at 1:34 pm

    I believe you are missing the point. The main threat of amazon is whispernet. Imagine that amazon comes out with the generic $500 tegra wifi 3g tablet with free whispernet. Currently the bottom verizon plan is 1 gig per month for $20.00. Thats $240.00 per year and given the data rates I can still only watch video on wifi. Whispernet would provide a free low speed connection that would be incapable of video, video would only be on the wifi.

    This is an ipad, verizon, att and every other tablet maker killer app. A free slow 3g connection.

  4. Quentin Dewolf

    04/19/2011 at 5:39 pm

    Why is it that the world always seems to be hardware focused in the software era? Amazon has already won their war. Their music (Amazon music is DRM free and can be transferred to an IOS device), books, and retail apps are available every where and are well used. If they develop an Amazon “Tablet” it would only be to push the hardware vendors into further adoption of their platform.
    Look at the kindle. Hardware followed by apps that run on as many devices as possible eventually making their own hardware almost unecessary. Software and media have much greater margins with less rsik than any hardware even Apple realizes that.

  5. Cuhulin

    04/25/2011 at 5:02 am

    Actually, the principal reasons for Amazon to put out a tablet would be for software.

    Both Apple and Barnes & Noble are pushing hardware that gives preference in various ways to their own software. Apple’s pricing does that in a major way — it’s “any deal you give others, you must give itunes” approach means there is no reason to look beyond Apple (i.e., to Amazon). The Nook Color is designed to default to the Barnes and Noble store. (Even if you root it and run generic Android, some functions of the software work better in the normal interface, so you end up back to buying from Barnes & Noble.)

    This has meant that Amazon has been forced to lower prices on its own products below Nook Color and way below Ipad. That’s not a good market to be in.

    I see an Amazon tablet as a critical defensive move.

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