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5 Reasons Why Amazon Can Make Android Tablets Really Compete with Apple's iPad

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 32 comments

It seems fairly reasonable to bet that Amazon will introduce an Android tablet in the foreseeable time. It makes perfect sense and it is not difficult to predict that Amazon where succeed where Samsung and Motorola have failed.

Hope and disappointment in Android tablets is a repetitive cycle these days. There is this huge anticipation building up that there will finally be an iPad rival. Yet you can be certain that something will be screwed up to prevent that new Android tablet from succeeding. Samsung missed the form factor and right OS; Motorola missed the sweetspot price. It's not going to get any better anytime soon: WebOS can't compete, because it does not have the necessary ecosystem and the Playbook needs to add general convenience features such as email access without the need for a Blackberry smartphone.

You can't blame consumers for not buying these tablets. Virtually all non-iPad tablets to date have established the perception that the iPad is the tablet to own and there is a good chance that Apple will repeat the iPod era with the iPad. However, there is a challenger on the horizon that has every opportunity to take on Apple: Amazon could be introducing the first compelling Android tablet. Here is why.

1. Amazon knows tablets

An Android tablet would not be Amazon's first tablet. Amazon knows how to design tablets and what consumers value in tablets as it has sold millions of Kindles. Consider an Android version of Kindle a strategy of branching out. The company's advantage is that it has experience other newbie tablet makers lack and can, as a result, avoid painful mistakes. Over the past few years, Amazon has experimented with prices, form factors, and features - and has built a considerable hardware research and development team that may not be quite as resourceful as Apple's developer army, but it may be nimble enough to come up with a compelling product that makes plain sense and is marketed effectively: Remember: The Kindle has been the only other tablet that sold out in a pre-order sale.

2. Existing upgrade path

Amazon has sold millions of Kindles. I have yet to come across a single Kindle user who isn't happy with this eBook reader. Especially those who have bought a $139 or $189 version of the Kindle may be tempted to look into a $400 or $500 version of a color Kindle that keeps their book purchases, but delivers more memory, a much better web browsing experience, as well as the breadth of Android applications: That breadth may be limited for Android tablets today, but imagine what a Kindle Tablet could do for the Android ecosystem: Kindle buyers are already used to purchasing content for their tablet and they are likely to transfer that behavior to Android apps, if they deliver a certain level of quality. Suddenly, there could be much more incentive for Android developers to develop for the tablet.

3. Trusted consumer brand

The fact that Amazon has been selling sort-of tablets for some time now has created the perception of a reliable product and the trust that Amazon can build a tablet that just works. The company may still be trying to find its way as far as app purchases are concerned, but there is no denying that there is a decent ecosystem that can support a general tablet - including video, music and app markets. Amazon even has its own cloud platform that could be challenging Apple's iCloud in a much more coherent way than Google can. Trust in the innovative capability of a company, apps and service access, as well as its ability to maintain a secure cloud product (we will have to see how the outage of Amazon's cloud service a few weeks ago plays into this) will be critical to the success of a new tablet. Amazon has all the tools and assets it needs to outshine potential rivals and tell future customers that they won't be left alone once they have purchased a tablet.

4. Unique content

Every Android tablet so far has been an iPad copycat. There is little reason to buy an expensive copycat if you can have the original for the same or less money. Plus, Apple has a very convincing app store, that tells future buyers that the iPad is the tablet they really want to buy. However, Amazon has an advantage over the iPad: Amazon has the default digital book store, which Apple still struggles to establish. An Amazon tablet will have the appeal of the Kindle and will communicate that it is most likely a much better ebook reader than the iPad is. The effect? If you enjoy reading books, you may be more likely to go with the Android Kindle than with an iPad. It would be foolish to underestimate the power of the ebook today - if Amazon plays a clever game, it could flank Apple's marketing and take a significant portion of the market.

5. The display opportunity

Let's be realistic. By today's standards, the iPad 2's display is a disgrace and most likely a compromise made by Apple to deliver higher iPad production volumes. For their purpose, Amazon's Kindle displays have always been outstanding and there is a chance for Amazon to trump Apple in display quality. Ebook reading isn't exactly a pleasure on iPads these days, but reading digital books is Amazon's home turf. There are plenty of new developments of HD screens with super-high brightness out there, which Amazon should be adopting for its Android Kindle. Not only is better display quality a requirement for a great color ebook tablet, but it is also a great marketing tool as its visual impact is easily communicated and can make a huge immediate impression with consumers in a store environment. It is very likely that many consumers will give a much better display a considerable value and they may be, as a result, willing to pay more for such a tablet.

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  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , June 16, 2011 5:30 PM
    hear hear!!!
  • 1 Hide
    chronicbint , June 16, 2011 5:33 PM
    eBook reading is fine on iPad I read books almost constantly on it, except in sunlight, otherwise its excellent and it works in the dark when the wife wants to sleep. The rest I agree on, if they can delivery a decent priced Android tablet with a decent screen it might be a winner. The other current Android tablets are no iPad rival.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 16, 2011 5:34 PM
    Does Tom's know something I dont? Haven't heard a peep from Amazon on the workings of their own Android tablet release.

    Anyone wanna elaborate?
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , June 16, 2011 5:41 PM
    "An Android tablet would not be Amazon's first tablet" ooh yes it would, kindle is not a tablet, nor is the nook, only the nook color could be deemed one and only after it has been rooted. And until Amazon can set it's policy of fair pricing(a kindle book-download only- is pricier in France than in the US), it will never achieve the succes of the Ipad. And buying an Android tablet now would be pretty stupid since in 3 to 4 months we will so quad core designs just in time for the holidays, and since the amazon app store can be accessed from each table there is no reason to buy an amazon tablet.
    My point is this article is written by a kindle fanboy
  • 0 Hide
    chronicbint , June 16, 2011 5:44 PM
    There is reason to buy an Amazon tablet if they can make a tablet that can be read in sunlight. The Kindle is king of the beach/pool.
  • 9 Hide
    LePhuronn , June 16, 2011 5:46 PM
    Tablet makers have taken the completely wrong approach to compete with the iPad. Pretty much every Android tablet has the iPad beaten on pure hardware spec and capability, but the user experience is always sub-par compared to Apple's.

    I see it time and again, and I've compared side-by-side many products while speccing and price matching kit for work and for uni staff - Apple's experience is just so slick, even though the hardware is inferior.

    UI animation is always so pleasing, so fluid. In fact there's probably a bit too much animation as everything transitions in some way, but it helps the eye keep focus and context to what's going and what's coming next - the user never gets lost or surprised.

    Now I love my HTC Desire (for example) and I will hold it up against any iPhone out there, but the experience just isn't as slick - frame rates in animation are lower and can stutter, some responses are sluggish and once in a while there's quite a jarring jump between screens.

    Same with the iPad (especially the iPad 2). So smooth, so fluid, so crisp to look at (even though the display is lacklustre), so responsive and tactile which is essential for a touch device.

    You can cram all the kit you want into a tablet, but unless you can get that fluidity, responsiveness and tactile response you will never beat an iPad in the mainstream user sector. Get it right, and Apple is toast.

    Tegra 2 devices have the graphical power to really ramp up the UI, let's see people do it, and I hope the Eee Transformer I'm testing for work soon will be there.
  • 3 Hide
    pozaks , June 16, 2011 5:51 PM
    So, a sampling of points that you're wrong on:

    Android tablets aren't selling
    No one else's Android tablets can't sell
    The kindle has much in common with real tablets
    The Touchpad, which is not out yet, can't compete because WebOS
    The brightest screen ever will be great for reading books
    Customers can't "keep their kindle purchases" right now on 10 different platforms
    We're sure Amazon has something to compete with iCloud because they have a cloud
    Again, there's some huge advantage to having the Kindle app built in, which it is on several devices already
    The iPad 2's IPS display is a disgrace
    Amazon will be able to charge more than an iPad.
    eBooks are a driving force behind tablet sales, rather than a market that has been completely devoured by them

    These and the mostly uninformed aspects of screen technology and market analysis makes this article basically worthless. Of course, this is the same guy who made a rambling denunciation of the WiiU that was based on second hand accounts of those who saw it at e3 mixed with a big dollop of baseless conjecture that he failed to meander to any kind of a point.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , June 16, 2011 5:56 PM
    1. Amazon doesn't know tablets only ebook reader which are more limited in functionality than a nokia smartphone from 5 years ago
    2.Existing upgrade path - if you have a amazon account you can redownload any book from any tablet using the amazon app so "tempted to look into a $400 or $500 version of a color Kindle that keeps their book purchases" is a lame argument from a narrow mind
    3.Trusted consumer brand- maybe in the US but here in Europe where pricing for ebooks is higher than in the US, not for me
    4. Unique content - download an app and you too can have amazon's unique content an every tablet,"it would be foolish to underestimate the power of the ebook today" Wrong it would be foolish to overestimate
    5. "new developments of HD screens with super-high brightness out there" give examples i haven's seen anything that won't kill the battery or have some other negative effect
    My point this whole article is a rant with no basis, written by someone who hasn't owned anything but a kindle, or is using a tablet just for reading books
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , June 16, 2011 6:13 PM
    This guy doesn't know what he is talking about...or maybe he does but I think we can all agree that the Amazon Kindle is not a tablet its an ereader...and second it wasn't that great of a success...it sold millions I guess but how long did it take to get that amount sold. I think they can pull it off though. Even the Asus Transformer pretty well its been out for about a month now and they past selling 300,000 already...versus the Motorola Xoom sell 200,000 in a 2 month period, after it came out in Febuary earlier this year. At this rate it seems the longer manufactures or companies wait to put out a Android based tablets the better results they get in sales. Can't wait to see how Samsung Tab 10.1 is going to do...it goes on sale tomorrow nationwide not NYC anymore.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 16, 2011 6:14 PM
    I think if they go with the right color screen that can be viewed outside (I think OLED does?) and the right price point - $399-$499, depending on features then they will have something I would by. Time is a factor though - I'm getting close to buying and IPAD from the waiting...
  • 0 Hide
    dgingeri , June 16, 2011 6:34 PM
    on two additional conditions:

    1. one version of the Android Kindle would have to have a touch e-paper display. it doesn't need super high refresh rates for most Android uses, especially for web and ebook reading. the e-paper display is what makes it a good reader.

    2. that same version would have to have a matte screen texture. glossy texture causes glare, especially in sunlight. I have always hated glossy screens for that very reason. With a matte finish, it would be readable, even possibly a pleasure to read, in sunlight.

    I have had a Kindle (the Kindle 2) since they were running $400. Yes, I was a somewhat early adopter. I encouraged my family to get one, and now all 3 of my sisters and my mom have Kindles. I love them. I'd love to see a Kindle Android tablet.
  • 0 Hide
    alidan , June 16, 2011 6:48 PM
    pozaksSo, a sampling of points that you're wrong on:Android tablets aren't sellingNo one else's Android tablets can't sellThe kindle has much in common with real tabletsThe Touchpad, which is not out yet, can't compete because WebOSThe brightest screen ever will be great for reading booksCustomers can't "keep their kindle purchases" right now on 10 different platformsWe're sure Amazon has something to compete with iCloud because they have a cloudAgain, there's some huge advantage to having the Kindle app built in, which it is on several devices alreadyThe iPad 2's IPS display is a disgraceAmazon will be able to charge more than an iPad.eBooks are a driving force behind tablet sales, rather than a market that has been completely devoured by themThese and the mostly uninformed aspects of screen technology and market analysis makes this article basically worthless. Of course, this is the same guy who made a rambling denunciation of the WiiU that was based on second hand accounts of those who saw it at e3 mixed with a big dollop of baseless conjecture that he failed to meander to any kind of a point.


    the ipad 2 screen looks ok in person, but thats because i dont have a ipod touch/phone with the retina display, its i beleive a 315dpi or 365dpi display, and looks... words cant describe it. if you ever had a problem with seeing pixles in a video game, 300+ dpi elimates them entirely without aa, thats the best way i can describe it. so yea. the screen is ok, but far from best, and many believe they wanted a better screen (think 2650x1600 about, or close) but didn't have the volume needed. and THAT will be immaculate.
  • 0 Hide
    molo9000 , June 16, 2011 7:10 PM
    Somebody has found a 2048x1536 image inside the iOS 5 SDK. That's exactly double the the resolution of the current iPad.

    Maybe iPad 3 is going to have a "retina display" after all.
  • 1 Hide
    smeker , June 16, 2011 7:12 PM
    5. The display opportunity
    Absolutely disagree. Ipad and iPad 2 still have one of the best tablet screens. High contrast and colors and reading eBooks is a pleasure, especially at night due to the back-light.

    There are some valid points in the article, but this is highly biased piece of writing....

    Two thumbs down...
  • 1 Hide
    dgingeri , June 16, 2011 8:17 PM
    Every time I see this commercial:

    http://www.macrumors.com/2011/03/25/apple-debuts-new-iphone-4-commercial-featuring-retina-display/

    I respond to the TV with a simple "I'm glad I don't" and give them the finger, just for the principle of the matter.
  • 0 Hide
    dalethepcman , June 16, 2011 10:07 PM
    I have two sets of two words for everyone looking for an ipad killer "Blue Stack" + "Iconia W500"/"Windtop 110w"
  • 0 Hide
    pacioli , June 16, 2011 10:13 PM
    " It makes perfect sense and it is not difficult to predict that Amazon WILL succeed where Samsung and Motorola have failed."

    fixed it
  • 0 Hide
    dalethepcman , June 16, 2011 10:23 PM
    molo9000Somebody has found a 2048x1536 image inside the iOS 5 SDK. That's exactly double the the resolution of the current iPad.Maybe iPad 3 is going to have a "retina display" after all.


    Or maybe they are building in support for higher resolution output via the mini display port, since there are no 10" screens with 2048X1536 resolution. At least try to speculate logically.
  • 0 Hide
    molo9000 , June 16, 2011 10:48 PM
    dalethepcmanOr maybe they are building in support for higher resolution output via the mini display port, since there are no 10" screens with 2048X1536 resolution. At least try to speculate logically.

    Samsung has recently shown a 10" 2560x1600 display. There is no reason they couldn't make a 2048x1536 display.
  • 1 Hide
    otacon72 , June 16, 2011 11:31 PM
    When Windows 8 tablets come out next year Android tablets are done.
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