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I wouldn’t get too excited about that Amazon tablet

Earlier today Joe Wikert wrote a post explaining why he would buy an Amazon Android tablet. I personally disagree with the idea, but I ran the post anyway. And now I’m glad I did.

One commenter pointed that the Amazon tablet would likely be as closed as the Kindle ereader, so any openness you might expect from Android would be lost. Amazon already sell ebooks, music, and movies, so why would they allow a competitor to sell that content on their tablet?

Basically the Amazon tablet would be as closed as iOS. Actually, I would say that it would be more closed.

What format does the Kindle read? Amazon’s (and PDF, but only poorly). In the years since the Kindle launched, Epub has risen as a competing format. Have they even hinted that they would allow it on the Kindle? No. heck, they don’t even support converting from Epub.

I’m sure you know about the Kinlde apps, but where are the competing Kindle ereaders?That’s simple; Amazon won’t allow them, obviously. Oh, and those apps aren’t a sign of openness; Amazon are making use of someone else’s hardware.

After you think about how Amazon have behaved with the Kindle, doesn’t it seem more likely that the Amazon tablet would be just as closed?

Do you still want one?

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Baldur Bjarnason March 14, 2011 um 12:11 pm

It depends entirely on whether competing apps will be allowed in Amazon’s android market or not, something we should be able to as soon as it’s released.

I suspect an Amazon tablet will be more of a vehicle for making money from their Android Market than from Kindle and so will probably be a bit more open than iOS (not hard).

Mike Cane March 14, 2011 um 12:14 pm

Bezos has stated the Kindle hardware is a separate business from Kindle eBooks. If the same philosophy holds with a tablet, they know business-wise it’d be better to have it open.

Baldur Bjarnason March 14, 2011 um 12:16 pm

I think it depends entirely on whether they’d make a Kindle tablet or an Android tablet as those are two separate things.

fjtorres March 14, 2011 um 12:53 pm

All this speculation about a theoretical Amazon or Kindle Android Tablet ignores one fundamental question: what is the *business* rationale for Amazon doing the product?

What "gaping" hole in the market is it supposed to fill?

Too much of the "analysis" strikes me as wishful thinking or, as this one, fearmongering.
Amazon is in business to make money.
Not to strike a spiteful blow at Apple.
Or to ship me-too generic products.

An Android app store by itself makes sense, especially if they license it/promote to all the zillion sub-3.0 tablets that google won’t support with their market.
Plus, it would serve as a vehicle to promote the Kindle app, the Amazon shopping app, and a video onDemand app.

But hardware?
What unique features would Amazon bring to a tablet?
Conversely, what advantage would a tablet give Amazon above and beyond distributing K4A to all comers, which it is already doing?
Hello? Any takers?

Nate the great March 14, 2011 um 1:08 pm

I don’t know why Amazon would do a tablet, either.

gous March 14, 2011 um 2:25 pm

Well the logic seems clear to me. The tablet would be cheaper than any of the other 'me not Apple' tablets around. Like the Kindle it would be a hook to catch customers for the content Amazon offers.

In this case it would boost mainly the music offerings and the Netflix competitor Amazon is bringing out. Nor would they want B&N to get too much of a headstart with kids colorbooks, color magazines and so forth.

Otherwise the same argument used above could have been used against the Kindle. Why not just ereader apps?

In the eReader world it has been the device plus platform companies that has prospered. I would not bet against the same happening in the tablet world.

Why not duplicate the strategy that worked so well for ebooks, especially for movies? An Android app store and a (locked down) tablet?

Not to mean that Amazon will decide to go ahead since there are negatives as well. It is an option they could implement especially as the holy grail of a color ereader still seems far away.

Michael March 15, 2011 um 2:30 am

I can’t imagine much incentive for Amazon to release an Android tablet. While the Kindle device may have been a key and ongoing part in the adoption of e-readers by the public, there’s now a Kindle app that runs on a vast number of phones, tablets and computers. Why produce an Android tablet when there’s already a Kindle app for Android, that will run on virtually any Android-based device?

Moreover, it would undermine their key sales pitch: that reading on an E Ink display is simply better.

Further, unlike the B&N app store, Amazon hasn’t imposed any special architecture on the apps to be sold at their app store. If they were planning to release a tablet of their own, I doubt they’d be soliciting apps designed to work on as many devices as possible, encouraging developers to consider customer experience at a wide variety of screen sizes and with differing control mechanisms.

cheshire March 18, 2011 um 11:27 pm

Amazon doesn’t have to bring anything unique to the tablet market. They just need something that lets people stream movies from their store, download mp3s, and buy ebooks.

This may be of particular importance with the uncertainty regarding apple continuing to allow sales of ebooks outside their walled itunes garden.

As for openess, it’s android. It will be rooted. I bought a nook color just so I could root it and use it as a low cost tablet. And face it, only a small part of the buying public care about how open a platform is.

Another thing to consider is nature abhors a vacuum and Amazon may well fill the vacuum that is the less than satisfying customer experience with Google’s android market. If Amazon can make an android marketplace "that just works" and becomes the 1st place the general consumer thinks to go for apps, the amazon app market could end up working well for Amazon in the long term.

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