Could an online retailer really take on the hardware giants in the tablet space? If Amazon plays its cards right now, absolutely it can. Here’s the ten things it can do to usurp the iPad at the top of the tablet tree.
1 Subsidised price point
For at least a few generations now, Nintendo, Sony and Xbox makers Microsoft have been selling their consoles at a loss, safe in the knowledge that they’ll recoup their losses, and then some, on software sales.
As the world’s largest retailer of ebooks, games, etc, and home to a customer base who already use the site for downloads there’s no way Amazon won’t make back its subsidy several times over on each unit sale. That means they can pitch their slate at a price that even the latest adopting tech refuseniks won’t be able to refuse.
Apple’s adherence to a premium product for a premium price policy for the iPad indicates it’s just not uninterested in this demographic. And that means they’re Amazon’s for the taking.
2 Run Android Honeycomb
If Amazon went with a proprietary operating system for its tablet, it’d likely be a disaster – purely because it’s unproven and would have a battle on its hands to make up lost ground. And WP7 isn’t a viable option either – not least because a tablet version of Microsoft’s OS hasn’t even hit the market yet.
That’s not true of Android. Piggyback on Google’s platform and Amazon can take full advantage of an OS that’s now fully optimised for tablets and chockfull of cool functionalities (tabbed browsing) and the smart 3D UI developed for Honeycomb.
3 Leverage its power for exclusive tablet apps and books
Amazon is the premier player in the ebook market and has untold marketing muscle. If it’s savvy, it’ll flex that power to ink deals for exclusive apps and content to help mark its effort out from the competition and give folk more reason to choose its slate.
If you’re in any doubt of Amazon's capacity to secure these kind of arrangements, take a look at how they got exclusivity on Angry Birds Rio – AKA the best-selling game ever on Android and the iPhone. Content deals in the world of mobile don’t come much bigger than that.
4 Don’t run Linux
The analysts at Forrester suggest Linux could be a goer for the Amazon slate. But that’d be a mistake in our eyes. Tech heads know Linux won’t bite. But it’s still too arcane an OS to find favour with the mass market that Amazon is aiming for.
5 Wi-Fi only
To the surprise of many, the Wi-Fi only iPad outsells the 3G version by some margin. From that we can surmise that consumers prefer to fill their tablets with content at home to view or play on the go rather than shelling out for the extra expense of a mobile broadband contract. That’s evidenced in the fact that Forrester’s research found that 28 per cent of consumers would prefer to buy a tablet from Amazon, while only 11 per cent would rather buy one from a mobile carrier.
Omitting 3G support will also further assist Amazon in making their slate cheaper than its rivals and appealing to the first-time tablet buyers it needs to ensare.
6 Pitch it as a pure media and entertainment device
Apple and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) have surely got the business end of the slate market on lockdown. So it’s pointless Amazon including anything to appeal to corporate types. That means it could probably dispense with dual cameras for video calling and conferencing and the like. That’s even more cost-savings coming its way. And your way.
7 Super AMOLED display
With all the cost savings Amazon will be making elsewhere (see above), we think it can afford a top of the range screen. What’s more, if it’s going to market its slate as an entertainment device that’s primarily for enjoying movies and videos, it just won’t do to pack a sub-par display. If not the eye-popping Super AMOLED Plus, then at least a regular Super AMOLED or Super LCD panel is what’s needed.
8 The whole nine inches
For the same reasons as the above, the screen also needs to be large enough to make movies a pleasure. We think about nine inches ought to do it. And if Amazon really wants to steal a march on Apple it could load up its tablet with a pin-sharp, super high-res 1280 x 1024 display to outgun the iPad 2 in the screen stakes.
9 Cloud storage
This is Amazon’s secret weapon. The retailer’s cloud infrastructure really, really is vast. Not only does that clear the way for some ground-breaking apps, it'll also enable you to sync everything everywhere across all your devices in a trice. All of which would make the fact that iPad users are umbilically tied to their PCs and Macs via Apple’s age-old white cable look very old-school indeed.
10 Battery life
Both the iPad and iPad 2 offer battery life of ten hours on a single full charge. That’s way more than its rivals - the Samsung Galaxy Tab gives you just seven hours – and means it’s a bit of kit you can rely on.
While Amazon tablet buyers don’t need their device to look as smart as something light and airy from the hand of Jonny Ive, more workaday practical concerns will be something they’ll be thinking about. And that means it’s imperative that Amazon’s slate has got the juice they need.