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Amazon’s iPad Rival Kindle Tablet Will Be 7 Inches and Cost $250

GoPackGo

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My brother swears he'd rather watch a movie on a 4.3 inch smartphone screen than a tablet. People are just different! I like Kindles, but before I had my iPad I had a nook. I liked reading on it but now prefer the larger screen on my iPad. Only thing I miss is eink. Definitely easier on the eyes.

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singlestick

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The comments on the TechCrunch article from Android fans are, not surprisingly, heavily negative. But that view ignores the fact that Kindle fans (much like Apple fans) place a lot of trust in the Amazon brand. The fact that it doesn't use the latest Android platform (if that turns out to be the case) is largely irrelevant to those buyers. The miniscule proportion of the market for whom a true "Android" experience matters means very little to Amazon.

I am somewhat surprised that the Kindle 4 (or whatever it's going to be called) doesn't have 3G support out of the box (if, in fact, that turns out to be true.) The problem, however, is that 3G support on the Kindle is free. That will be impossible for a device that can be used for internet access on an ongoing basis so I suspect that Amazon is trying to work a deal with one or more cellular carriers that splits the difference between "free" 3G of the current Kindle and the $30 per month start/stop plan offered for the iPad.

As far as the price is concerned, I suspect that $249 is exactly right. It has become obvious that the sweet spot for smartphones is just about $200 (subsidized). A slight bump for a tablet that still puts it at half the cost of an iPad is about what I think consumers will expect. And Amazon has no incentive to undercut the price of the B&N Nook (which has sold very well) with a device with comparable specs from a much stronger brand.

The TechCrunch article implies that this is just one model in a larger Amazon tablet strategy (with a 10" model to follow in 2012.) I suspect that is true (though I'm not sure a 10" model is necessarily the next step.) Instead, I suspect that Amazon is banking on a combo backlit/e-ink display coming along in the next year, or so. (Doesn't matter much to folks like me but to a significant portion of the Kindle community the paper-like display of e-ink for reading is a crucial sales point.) That might be a 10" device, but I suspect that it would be even better in a 7" format.

Bottom line? From one perspective it's not going to be an iPad competitor. But Amazon doesn't need an iPad killer. They do need a "Nook Killer." And they need to begin to extend the Kindle product line in a way that supports a long-term strategy as the tablet market matures.
Very good stuff. I largely agree with much of what you say. I can also see why Amazon would not jump into 3G. It is one thing to provide free or subsidized 3G when it is used only to buy and transfer books; the cost factor is very different when used for Web, email and other services.

The $250 price is very reasonable, and becomes an even better value if it includes Amazon Prime fees.

I don't see that Amazon needs a "Nook Killer" anymore than it needs an "iPad Killer." One of Amazon's challenges is keeping customers happy as states try to tack on state sales taxes to Amazon purchases. And so, their strategy in coming up with new products and services, goes far beyond competing in the tablet market.

On the other hand, the Amazon product does offer an interesting challenge to the lackluster Android tablet market, and also offers a bit of a challenge to Apple's iTunes, especially if you can easily get music and video.
 

k7lvo

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1/3 the storage and 1/2 the price. Looks like a gateway tablet :D to me. It'll get new people into the tablet market, some of whom will like the tablet concept but, after using it for awhile, will "upgrade..."
 

jsh1120

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1/3 the storage and 1/2 the price. Looks like a gateway tablet :D to me. It'll get new people into the tablet market, some of whom will like the tablet concept but, after using it for awhile, will "upgrade..."

Internal storage capacity is much less relevant in a device where SD card and/or USB flash drive support is available.
 

singlestick

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1/3 the storage and 1/2 the price. Looks like a gateway tablet :D to me. It'll get new people into the tablet market, some of whom will like the tablet concept but, after using it for awhile, will "upgrade..."

The thing is that some people are not looking for "tablets." Ebooks don't require a lot of space. If you can store some music, and stream video and more music, you may not have much of a reason to "upgrade" to anything more.
 

jsh1120

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...

I don't see that Amazon needs a "Nook Killer" anymore than it needs an "iPad Killer." One of Amazon's challenges is keeping customers happy as states try to tack on state sales taxes to Amazon purchases. And so, their strategy in coming up with new products and services, goes far beyond competing in the tablet market.

On the other hand, the Amazon product does offer an interesting challenge to the lackluster Android tablet market, and also offers a bit of a challenge to Apple's iTunes, especially if you can easily get music and video.

Points well taken. In fact, one of the subtle factors here is that Amazon, like Apple, can use a tablet to maintain and grow a customer base for other products. But in fact Amazon's play is much, much wider than Apple's since it doesn't just sell computing devices; it sells everything under the sun (including ironically iPads.) Not only can you get "music and video" on Amazon; you can get lawn furniture.

As far as the Nook Killer comment, I don't think Amazon is especially worried about losing significant unit sales to the Nook. But if you've followed the reviews of the Nook, it's obvious that it was a hit with the gadget press including sites like C-Net and pubs like PC and Laptop mags. As much as anything, I think Amazon values its reputation as the dominant e-Reader vendor and doesn't like seeing reviews that claim the Nook is superior.

If the TechCrunch article is accurate I'm a little surprised that Amazon is not "one upping" the Nook at the same or slightly higher price, (e.g. $299.) But they may have decided that a "good enough" Kindle 4 that's ready for sale in the holiday season is better than a superior device that can't be shipped until January.

And, of course, Amazon doesn't need an iPad "killer." But it does need to protect its flank against defections to the iPad among e-Reader customers. Providing versions of major tablet functions in a package the size of a Kindle at half the price of the iPad is a good strategy to keep existing Kindle customers in the fold. And while sales of the current Kindle don't approach those of the iPad, 25 million units sold this year ain't hay.
 

k7lvo

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Internal storage capacity is much less relevant in a device where SD card and/or USB flash drive support is available.

From the article it doesn't sound like it has that capability - it seems to be relying on the cloud, which Google seems to be having a hard time with, even WITH 3G.

The thing is that some people are not looking for "tablets." Ebooks don't require a lot of space. If you can store some music, and stream video and more music, you may not have much of a reason to "upgrade" to anything more.

Which is why I said "some." :)
 

jsh1120

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Internal storage capacity is much less relevant in a device where SD card and/or USB flash drive support is available.

From the article it doesn't sound like it has that capability - it seems to be relying on the cloud, which Google seems to be having a hard time with, even WITH 3G.

We'll see. I'm skeptical that the unit the author "spent an hour" with is the tablet that consumers will see. Products typically go through changes between an announcement at a trade show and the Amazon tablet hasn't even reached that stage yet. I suspect the basic form factor is set but if you read the article carefully you'll find a number of areas where the author is unsure about capabilities, features, and even basic hardware components.

As for Google "having a hard time" with the "cloud," I'm not sure what you mean. I've been using Google Docs for a couple of years, gmail for much longer than that, and in general their "cloud" capabilities far outstrip anyone else's.
 

singlestick

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far as the Nook Killer comment, I don't think Amazon is especially worried about losing significant unit sales to the Nook. But if you've followed the reviews of the Nook, it's obvious that it was a hit with the gadget press including sites like C-Net and pubs like PC and Laptop mags. As much as anything, I think Amazon values its reputation as the dominant e-Reader vendor and doesn't like seeing reviews that claim the Nook is superior.

If the TechCrunch article is accurate I'm a little surprised that Amazon is not "one upping" the Nook at the same or slightly higher price, (e.g. $299.) But they may have decided that a "good enough" Kindle 4 that's ready for sale in the holiday season is better than a superior device that can't be shipped until January.

And, of course, Amazon doesn't need an iPad "killer." But it does need to protect its flank against defections to the iPad among e-Reader customers. Providing versions of major tablet functions in a package the size of a Kindle at half the price of the iPad is a good strategy to keep existing Kindle customers in the fold. And while sales of the current Kindle don't approach those of the iPad, 25 million units sold this year ain't hay.
I don't know whether the people at Amazon care about the gadget press, but you could be partly right here. CEOs have big egos as much as other people. But the new Amazon reader appears to be more than just an e-Reader, more of a portable Amazon retailer, so it competes with the Nook in some ways, but stakes a new ground in other respects.

Also, I don't think Amazon is worried about detections to the iPad. With various Kindle apps, you can get your Kindle e-reader anywhere, including on the iPad. Also, the little skirmish over how the Kindle app works on the iPad because of Apple policy may give Amazon a little extra PR value.

I look forward to seeing what the actual device may be like. If it succeeds it will be good for everyone, including Apple.

As an aside, I would hope that improvements in e-readers and tablets will spur advances in textbooks for these devices, which are still in a primitive and overprice state.
 

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