Thursday, July 14, 2011

Amazon Tablet: Lots of Unanswered Questions, Gingerbread or Honeycomb; Patience Will Pay Off

According to WSJ, Amazon is coming out with their own tablet to compete with Apple.  This is a lock as far as I'm concerned.  And I'm glad they waited so patiently to do it now.  After all, Amazon is under a lot of pressure to compete with Apple and, traditional rival, Barnes and Noble (BN).

When Nook Color was leased by BN last year, everyone thought Amazon would respond in kind.  Instead, it patiently laid the ground work for its media empire to be ready first.  First, it offered an alternative app store for Android.  Then it readied its music cloud locker.  

And when the Kindle tablet launches a couple of months from now, it'll likely have a video component as well to the Amazon ecosystem.  

However, there are a few questions we don't yet know:

  • What is the size of the screen? 8", 9", or 10"?
  • Will it have 3G data access?  Or will we see multiple models?
  • How much storage will it have?
  • Will there be a special sponsored version to keep cost down?
  • What kind of processor will it run on?  
  • Will rival tablets be allowed to use its ecosystem?
  • Which version of Android will the Kindle Tablet run on?  Gingerbread or Honeycomb?
  • Did Google get help from Google?
  • Who is helping Amazon make the tablet? Could it be a Galaxy with Amazon's logo or however Google does it with Nexus – using more than one device maker?
  • What will be the default search engine?  Bing or Google?
  • When will they get sued by Apple?  I'm being serious here.
  • When will Microsoft be asking for patent royalty?  Could Microsoft forgo royalty payments if Amazon uses Bing as its default search engine?
  • When will Amazon be contact by Oracle for Java patent royalty?
The white elephant in the room is the iPad. Obviously.  This probably came as no surprise to Cupertino.  Apple's media and app ecosystem has not been challenged and Amazon will be the first company that can match or come close to offering the same level of media as the iTunes ecosystem.  

It's a wonder that this has not happened already or that Google or anyone else had never approach Amazon about this.  

I asked a very smart mobile warrior if the Kindle tablet has what it takes to challenge the iPad and shift the consumer mind share of the tablet market away from Apple.  The answer, surprisingly, was no.  He could be right.  With the gloves pretty much off already as Amazon and Apple fight it out over the "app store" name, a lot more firework is coming in the tablet market.

Personally, I can't wait  Missteps by various tablet makers and even Google itself has allowed Apple to remain unchallenged.  We need more competition.  And I think Amazon has the best chance of giving Apple's ecosystem a run for its money. 

And the fact that Amazon did not rush into the tablet market when its reader and ebook business was being challenged from all corners showed that it is a cool and calculating competitor.  Very Apple-like.

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