The New York Post has reported that the Amazon Android-based tablet will be “hundreds less” than an iPad 2. As the HP TouchPad showed us, consumers are interested if the price is right, even about a device they didn’t even know they want until that point. With a strategy that takes those people into account, Amazon might boost the Android tablet market share overnight.
If they are able to say this about their tablet (meaning the price will be $250 or less), then the word will quickly spread out that Amazon (a brand many people know and like) now has a tablet that is “like iPad, for half the price. Obviously, even at that price, the tablet needs to look high quality, and the screen should be gorgeous – it is after all a reading device, and I don’ t think Amazon will cut corners here. If B&N could pull it off, they sure can, too.
I don’t think Amazon needs to compete head-on with the iPad anyway. While the iPad is a tablet first, reader second (or 5th), the Amazon tablet can, and should be a reader first, tablet second. There are a lot of Kindle users or potential Kindle buyers, who want something “like Kindle, but with tablet features”.
While e-ink is pretty great at replicating the look of the real paper, it also comes with some huge disadvantages such as not being useful for much else than book reading, and people don’t really like single-purpose devices. I think they’d also like to see a much smoother page refresh as well, than a 0.3 second blackout everytime they turn a page.
A lot of people would be willing to live with the shortcomings of reading a book on an LCD device, if they can use the device for a lot more. So, to them, a “reader first, tablet second” device makes a lot of sense. If Amazon could make the screen really great, and give it a pretty high resolution for a 7″ display, such as 1280×800, like the current 10″ Android tablets, I think all of the sudden, people would realize reading a book on an LCD is a lot more enjoyable than they thought it would be.
Somehow, I doubt that Amazon’s first (and maybe even the second one) this year would have Android 4.0 underneath, and they might not even use the regular Android Market. Normally, I’d say they should try to get the Android Market because otherwise it would be suicide, but Amazon might be able to get away with it.
First, the Android Market doesn’t have that many tablet apps anyway, so it’s the right window of opportunity for Amazon to launch their tablets now with only their own app market, especially if they manage to bring in more tablet apps than Google could.
Second, if their Amazon tablet really has something special, this would also help people forget about the Android Market. This something special could be a new type of display that we might not have seen in products until now, or not produced in volume. It could be a display that works almost as well as an LCD, but with the advantage of e-ink of being readable in direct sunlight. Initial rumors said that Amazon would use Qualcomm’s Mirasol display, but then we heard that Qualcomm couldn’t produce enough of them in time. But what if they tried an alternative? Samsung also bought a company that made something similar to the Mirasol display. And there’s also the PixelQi display that first appeared on the Notion Ink Adam tablet, and has since improved.
Amazon has 2 strategies here: either go with a pretty common and predictable tablet (that is high quality), and go as cheap as possible, or introduce a new kind of reader/tablet hybrid. They could go either way, but I also know that Amazon is a pretty innovative company in general. I think it’s a little unlikely that they will do what everyone else is doing. They will want to be significantly different, so people regard their tablet as special. But being much cheaper than an iPad and other “high-end” Android tablets right now, might help Amazon sell millions of them in a short amount of time, and in the same time also help the Android tablet market get off the ground.