It’s been nearly 1.5 years since Apple’s first iPad was released. The first of its kind at launch, dozens of competitors now exist across several big brands—RIM with its PlayBook, HP with its now-defunct TouchPad, and countless Android-powered sheep.
The TouchPad ran good software on horrible hardware and died a painful (but quick) death. RIM’s PlayBook launched without email—BlackBerry’s best feature—and sorely lacks for apps. Android app compatibility may ressurrect it in 2012 from its current state of walking corpse, but not before Amazon comes to market with its own Android-charged tablet.
Indeed, rumours have fast cemented into near-fact as the behemoth e-tailer forges ahead with its semi-veiled plans to unleash its own beast into the arena. Could this finally be the mobile gadget to wound the unscathed iPad?
Tech research firm Forrester says so. Analyst Sarah Rotman Epps compared the notion to David and Goliath but noted that Amazon’s willingless to sell hardware at a loss demonstrates the company’s highly competitve nature—and everyone’s hindsight said that was the approach HP should have taken with its TouchPad.
Amazon has a strong brand, Forrester notes, with powerful cloud infrastructure and a famous, well-respected commerce platform—two features that will widely broaden the appeal of the device, at least over Samsung and RIM and HP-made tablets. How about Apple, though?
A pricetag set at $300 or below, the firm suggests, will see the tablet sell as many as 5 million units in the fourth quarter alone.
I’m wary of this number—my guess would be half that, but I also think the tablet will be at or slightly above $300, at least for a top-end model—but if it came even close to disrupting the iPad, that would mean it would be heavily disrupting all other tablets. No other tablet has managed to sell more than around half a milllion tablets in a quarter, while the iPad broke the 9-million-units-sold mark last quarter.
Will Amazon’s tablet be an iPad killer? Obviously not. Will it be a legitimate challenger? Highly unlikely. Will it be second-place? Sure. It can’t be that hard to achieve with some simple logic. All Amazon need to does is learn from everyone else’s mistakes. Don’t try to be an iPad and don’t try to beat an iPad. Carve out your own space in the market with strategic pricing and differentiating features. There is room for two tablets, but not two identical ones.