I still don’t believe Amazon is working on a tablet

So the "Amazon tablet" rumors reach a fever pitch today with one of the bloggers with gdgt  posting a long explanation of why he thinks Samsung is building the Amazon tablet. I respect his opinion and his right to argue a position that has so little factual basis. I've done the same before, so I can't judge. But I still don't believe that it will happen. Let me poke a bunch of holes in your balloon.

The Amazon tablet myth has grown to include the idea that Amazon would release a tablet in order to have a platform to sell content (video, MP3, ebook). My problem with that is simple: Amazon have never done that before, so what makes you think they're going to do it now?

Amazon has sold video since 2006, and they never released a media device. Instead, they partnered with other hardware companies (Tivo and Archos, for example). Amazon has also sold MP3 since 2007, and they never released their own MP3 player. Instead, their content runs on virtually everything.

Folks, do you realize how easy it would have been to release a set top box so it could sell more video? Instead Amazon partnered with Roku, Logitech, Tivo, and Sony.  I bet you dollars to donuts that either Sony or Logitech would have been happy to help Amazon make a set top box media player.  Amazon could have used the A-box to sell MP3 and video, but they didn't.

Archos has been capable of making a media player for Amazon since (at least) 2007, and yet they never did. it would have been a decent device, too. I have an old Archos media player from about that time and I can say that they make decent hardware. The Archos 705 even had Wifi, so it met all the requirement you'd expect for a connected media player.

But Archos never made one for Amazon.

About Nate Hoffelder (11389 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

20 Comments on I still don’t believe Amazon is working on a tablet

  1. They are coming out with a tablet and when they do, hopefully you get out of the business of making prognostications.

    • How do you know they are? Can you provide any evidence?

      • Nate, as I mentioned here earlier,
        I found, in a mild column in early November,
        Computerworld’s Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, aka cybercinic, writing about what “Amazon sources” told him about an Amazon tablet
        http://bit.ly/kwktab2

        And Peter Rojas, who wrote the Samsung article about being 99% sure, isn’t just “one of the bloggers with gdgt.”
        He was the co-founder of Engadget and is now co-founder of gdgt.com — he has very good connections in the industry and he cited ‘sources within the industry.’

        There’s always the 1% chance he was misled!, but his saying all this holds more strength than the usual.

        Amazon yesterday updated Kindle for Android to optimize it for Honeycomb. That doesn’t mean much except that everything starts falling into place. We’ve seen all the things they’re working on – and I don’t think Bezos is going to let that opportunity go by either. He quickly put out mp3 streaming of our owned mp3s .

        You ask for “evidence” – we look at indications, and there’s strong indication here.

        As for what Amazon hadn’t done before, Sony had an ereader out about almost a year before Amazon, who had not come out with an e-reader. Amazon did what they hadn’t done before – they made the Kindle 1.

        They’re pretty aggressive and not likely to miss opportunities with digital offerings.

        They had video streaming before they recently bought out LiveFilm (the netflix of Europe).
        http://bit.ly/kw-vod

        I don’t think they’d stay out of the tablet arena and not provide another razor for what is a very fast-growing area in today’s world with lots of razor blades.

        • That Computerworld article came out in November, and we haven’t seen any leaked info since then. Did you know that in the same time frame we saw no less than 4 sets of real photos of the iPad 2, but nothing from the aTab? I think that’s a pretty good sign there’s nothing to leak.

          • AthenaAtDelphi // 22 April, 2011 at 10:38 am //

            “Did you know that in the same time frame we saw no less than 4 sets of real photos of the iPad 2, (…)”

            Leaking info (photos , prototypes) to create a buzz , seems to be Apple’s new ‘introduction strategy’ .
            Remember the introduction of the iPhone 4 last year ?

  2. My one counter argument on the possibility is that an Amazon Tablet particularly one produced with Samsung would undercut Apples vig.

    Android and Chrome are economic moats for Google, they undercut competitors who aim to block access to search and ads which is Google’s economic castle.

    Apple is deliberately horning in on the Kindle app as well as trying to extract it’s vig. Apple has been raining shite on Samsung all this year as well as cutting into their sales. In a similar situation Barnes and Noble came out with the color nook.

    The argument for an Amazon/Samsung tablet, specifically one at a lower price point than apple is that it seriously undercuts Apple via low end disruption. The tablet as a commodity item is a dream come true for Amazon, and Samsung would much rather have a bigger cut of a cheaper tablet than sell Jobs the components (rope) he plans to hang them with. The Amazon plan and market presence helps sales, and the Samsung technical muscle allows for good quality.

  3. I tend to agree with you Nate. Amazon sells content. They maintain the infrastructure to provide streaming with (usually) little disruption. They don’t need to provide a device to consume the content, you can load/synch to most other devices available.

    The Kindle was the dream for Bezos, he indicated as much in an interview with Charlie Rose just prior to the K3 release. Bezos loves books. He knew what he wanted in an electronic reader and delivered a great ereader. Unlike Jobs, Bezos does believe there are still people who love to read.

    Amazon’s core strength is Customer Service. They provide some of the best service available. Supporting a tablet would be a CS nightmare
    despite a well made product. The complexity of the tablet, coupled with an OS still in it’s infancy and the general laziness of the average enduser in learning how to use the device and OS, would strain Amazon’s exemplary CS. I have a hard time believing Amazon would take a chance in this regard.

    • “Supporting a tablet would be a CS nightmare despite a well made product.”

      Not if they come out with a *dedicated* Android tablet (that is : dedicated to Amazon content) .

  4. Why do you use “have” instead of “has” after Amazon and Samsung in your article?

    I am not trying to be the snarky grammar police, I am just genuinely interested. Is that a style choice or the appropriate usage?

    • I use the British conjugation, like I always have. Companies are plural. It might seem odd but I am at least consistent. a lot of people mix the conjugation. “Company A thinks their stuff…” <- Do you see the problem?

      • Yes, I didn’t realize that was a British vs American usage. I didn’t at want to cause any offense, I was just truly interested. I’m trying to improve my own writing skills and I find style and usage differences fascinating. I suppose this just adds a layer to my geek credentials.

        Great post by the way.

  5. “Amazon have never done that before, so what makes you think they’re going to do it now?”

    That’s not a strong argument .
    Before Amazon started selling Kindle Singles , they had “never done that before” either .

    And they did/do a fine job with that other HW-platform : the Kindles .

    • Kindle Singles is merely a marketing gimmick. Amazon already had short content in the Kindle Store. The only change was cosmetic.

    • I agree, simply because they didn’t do it for other areas doesn’t mean they won’t do it for this area.

      And the fact that they didn’t do it in 2006 or 2007 doesn’t mean they won’t do it now either. The hardware possibilities have changed dramatically the last two to three years. And so has the price. Compare even the original price of the K1 to the current price of the K3.

      • “My problem with that is simple: Amazon have never done that before, so what makes you think they’re going to do it now?”

        This is a horrible argument because Amazon has sold books for a long time before releasing the Kindle. Amazon has also been selling (both physical and digital) video and music for *years* and they are in a great position (especially with their new cloud service) to release a dedicated device tailored to their services. They did it with the Kindle, they can certainly do it to take on the iPad. As an iPad 2 and Kindle owner, I welcome the competition with open arms. I mean, SOMEONE has to compete. Motorola and BlackBerry are both failing.

  6. In my opinion, Bezos have long waited for a color epaper. But the evolution of color, fast, hi-res epaper screens is too slow.

    In the meantime the color tablet market exploded.

    In my opinion they never did it because they waited too much for color e-paper.

    But Kindle isn’t good for magazines and graphic novels and they will do the tablet.

    May be I’m wrong, we will see 😉

  7. I’ve been skeptical of an Amazon tablet for a while (the business case looked weak) but with every release of “Yet-another-underwhelming-ipadwannabee” the business case looks ever more plausible.
    At this point I’m thinking that whether Amazon does a tablet or not hinges on how serious Apple is about evicting competitors to its underperforming iBook dud. Which means they have to be ready to release the thing in Q3/2011 but won’t actually decide for another month.
    And, thus, the rumors and hints from industry sources may just be Amazon’s way of letting Apple know there will be a price to pay if they want to lock them out of the iOS kingdom.

  8. soooo, have you written a follow up article poking holes in your poking holes article yet :)? Amazon is capable of a lot of different things, but they launch at a realistic rate and refuse to let anything to market before it is perfected in house. Their long sided approach to business is what allows thm to continue to grow and steal marketshare from other companies in segments othr than ecommerce. Read up on what they are doing to Paypals market share… I think you’ll find it enlightening.

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