Since the details about the Amazon Kindle Tablet were unveiled, many thought about whether this will be an iPad killer, which would be pretty good for the Android ecosystem, since it will be running an older version of Android, but in the same time others say it will actually be an Android tablet killer, because iPad’s position is secure, so the Amazon tablet will wipe the floor with the other Android tablets. So which is it? Will the Amazon Kindle tablet kill the iPad? The Android tablets? Both? Or none of them?
I think the Amazon tablet will kill none of them, because of one simple reason – they address different markets. So in the end they will all end up expanding the tablet market, rather than kill each other. It’s just that Amazon will approach it from a different angle – the specialized reading tablet. So the Amazon tablet will primarily focus on getting users who love reading books, but they don’t like some of the disadvantages of e-ink (no color, slow refreshing, blackouts on page turns), and would also like to have some tablet functionality and applications.
One other major reason why they haven’t embraced e-inks readers is that they don’t support PDF files very well. Tablets are much better at that, especially Android-based tablets. Although, if it’s really based on Android 2.1 then it should not have support for Flash out of the box, but I’m sure it doesn’t take that much tweaking to make it work, and they’ve already asked Adobe to help them.
So most of the customers for Amazon’s Kindle tablet will be either users who have been waiting for such a specialized reading tablet, that is customized around the reading experience, or simple Kindle users who wanted to upgrade to a “richer” tablet experience.
But not only will this tablet be restricted to Amazon services and their limited App Store, but it will also have a pretty low-end processor compared to what tablets will have by the end of the year. General purpose tablets will continue to be better at browsing, apps and allowing for an even richer experience in general, beyond that of reading books and a few apps. This is why in the grand scheme of things, the impact of the Amazon Kindle tablet should be minimal on both the iPad and Android tablets.
But this doesn’t mean Amazon’s effort is done in vain. Amazon is a pretty visionary company, and they’ve seen long ago that Apple is unpredictable and they shouldn’t let their future in their hands. And a few months ago it turned out they were right when Apple wanted to charge all content vendors a 30% cut. That would’ve been all Amazon’s profit on books. In the end, after much online backlash and from companies in general, Apple gave up on that idea, but they’re still forbidding them to use links to their own app stores.
This has still managed to weaken Amazon’s presence on iOS, and they want to make sure that neither Apple nor Google will be able to have a very strong impact on their own destiny in the future. That’s why they intend to sell some very popular devices themselves, and also because they want to control their own platform.
I expect Apple to continue to sell more and more iPads, although their market share will drop with the 2nd wave of Android tablets, and the launch of the Amazon Kindle tablet, if you count that in the numbers, just like the number of iPhones sold per quarter has continued to grow even though their market share has remained rather stagnant. That’s because the Android phones sold even faster.
The second wave of Kal-El powered Android 4.0 tablets should give the Android tablets, which are already supposed to have around 30% market share now, a big surge in sales.