There are a ton of new tablets on the horizon. It seems that every day brings rumbling of a new Android tablet or rumors concerning how Microsoft plans to break into the tablet game. Considering that Apple’s gamechanging iPad has sold nearly 20 million units since debuting in April of 2010, it’s no wonder that every developer under the sun is trying to get their own tablet ready in time for the holidays. However, Apple is dug in deep and many upcoming tablets don’t look like they’ll measure up to the quality of the iPad. It’s going to take something special — or at least something interesting — to draw people away from Apple.
Is the mysterious Android-operated Amazon tablet going to be the one to do it? Maybe. Perhaps. Who knows? All we know is that is sounds like a potentially fascinating device…and it may find itself competing more with Google than with Apple.
First of all, the Amazon tablet is not a Kindle. Secondly, it will not be replacing the Kindle in any sense. In fact, there are two new Kindles on the way, presumably part of Amazon’s master plan to reclaim e-book supremacy after the Nook Color and the touchscreen Nook supplanted them. What we do know about the Amazon tablet is that it will have a nine inch screen, no camera and will link directly with Amazon’s digital downloads, meaning that it will be built around the movies, music, books and apps you buy directly from Amazon. So many people default to iTunes out of habit for their music and movie sales, ignoring the often cheaper (and equally reliable) Amazon website because they don’t have a device built specifically for that store. Now they do.
Apple and Amazon have always had a divisive relationship. Heck, Apple sued Amazon earlier this year over the site’s use of the phrase “App Store.” However, the two have had a mutually beneficial relationship. To quote the Wall Street Journal piece that brought us the news of Amazon’s tablet: “Amazon and Apple are frenemies … They rely on each other as partners. Amazon, for example, sells digital books via its Kindle app in Apple’s iTunes Store but at the same time, they aggressively compete for customers’ attention and dollars.”
Still, even with the Amazon name on it, it’s tough to imagine this new tablet directly dueling the iPad and living to tell the tale, especially since the first wave’s design and production is being outsourced — not exactly a sign of care and quality (although an internally designed tablet is already being rumored for 2012). The real battle here may be between Amazon and Google. Although the Amazon tablet will be powered by Google’s Android operating system, it use its own app store instead of Google’s Android Market and be built entirely around Amazon’s content. As this excellent Techcrunch post points out:
“Thanks to the “openness” of Android, Google has handed Amazon the keys to the Android kingdom. Amazon is going to launch a tablet that runs Android, but it will be fully Amazon’d. It will use Amazon’s Appstore, it will use Amazon movies, it will use Amazon books, it will use Amazon music, etc. Google will have no control over this, even though it will be the seminal Android tablet. That would be terrifying for any brand.”
Things will especially heat up if Google gets its rumored Nexus tablet on the shelves this Fall, where it would directly compete with the Amazon tablet (which is supposedly going to release sometime in October). We could be looking at the beginning of a nasty little war, but that wouldn’t be anything new in the tech world, wouldn’t it?