Kindle's new Tablet rivals, Amazon invading Android via App Store

It seems the Kindle 3 will soon have to face a veritable army of Android powered Tablets.

Kindle vs Tablets – Tablets popping out of the woodwork

Here are the new Tablets the Kindle will soon have to compete against –

  1. Playbook from Black Berry.  Engadget has PlayBook photos and videos and it’s a pretty impressive sounding Tablet though it doesn’t arrive until 2011 –

    •7-inch LCD, 1024 x 600, WSVGA, capacitive touch screen with full multi-touch and gesture support
    • 1 GHz dual-core processor
    • Dual HD cameras (3 MP front facing, 5 MP rear facing), supports 1080p HD video recording
    • Wi-Fi – 802.11 a/b/g/n
    • Open, flexible application platform with support for WebKit/HTML-5, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Adobe Mobile AIR, Adobe Reader, POSIX, OpenGL, Java
    • Ultra thin and portable:
    • Measures 5.1″x7.6″x0.4″ (130mm x 193mm x 10mm)
    • Weighs less than a pound (approximately 0.9 lb or 400g)

  2. Sharp Tablets named Galapagos (another totally ridiculous name choice, you can almost imagine the conversations – Wow, that’s cool. What is it? Ummm … it’s a Galapa-something). There’s a 5.5″ model and a 10.8″ model and Sharp insists on calling them eReaders. Sharp will first release them in Japan with a store that has 30,000 magazines, newspapers, and books. CrunchGear has lots of photos and videos of the Sharp Galapagos pretend-eReaders. Don’t miss the video with the super-smiley people.
  3. Kno told Wired that it’s creating a single-screen 14″ tablet  in addition to its dual screen behemoth. It’ll come with a touchscreen and a stylus and be released by end 2010 (as will Kno’s dual screen Tablet). Kno is targeting students and has already signed deals with McGraw Hill, Pearson, Wiley, and 1 other major textbook publisher.

These 3 Tablets add on to the 50,000 other Tablets and pretend-eReaders that are already set to launch in early 2011.

Why the Kindle will be competing with Tablets

Although it doesn’t make much sense to compare eReaders with Tablets the various Tablet manufacturers continue to do so. We see this with Sharp which insists on calling its Tablets ‘eReaders’.

It seems the eReader market and the rate at which it’s growing is absolutely irresistible and Tablet manufacturers aren’t smart enough to figure out that people want a device focused on reading as opposed to a device you can read on.

The net result is that Tablet manufacturers keep positioning their tablets as ‘eReaders that can do more than just read’.

It’s quite amusing that all these Tablets are being announced now when they don’t even arrive until 2011. It just shows how poorly prepared most companies are to take on the iPad or, for that matter, to steal a piece of the eReader market.

Amazon doing all it can to address the Tablet threat

Amazon is pretty serious about the threat Android powered Tablets pose and it’s doing a lot of things to guard itself and strike back.

Amazon announces Kindle for PlayBook

Amazon didn’t even wait for the dust to settle on the BlackBerry PlayBook announcement before releasing a Press Release saying that a Kindle App for the BlackBerry PlayBook will be released in the coming months.

That might be a bit of a problem given that the PlayBook itself isn’t coming out till 2011. It’d be quite amusing to have the Kindle App come out before the device.

Someone from HP was quoted as saying that he sees the Tablet Market turning into a $40 billion a year market. Which is probably why HP is going to wait until 2011 to finally release a Tablet – Might as well let Apple take over the entire market before we enter.

Amazon updates Kindle for Android

Crave Blog at CNet UK talks about the new additions to Kindle for Android –

  1. Search using either text or voice.  
  2. Add notes and highlights.  
  3. Lock the screen orientation. 
  4. Integration with Shelfari to offer book summaries, character information, and discussions. All from within Kindle for Android.

Basically, Amazon’s making sure that when people buy Android powered Tablets the best reading option for them is Kindle for Android. When you factor in ebook range, prices, and app features – it is.

These measures, however, pale against what might be Amazon’s stroke of genius.

Is Amazon building its own Android App Store?

The problem with the Android Market is it isn’t much of a store and it doesn’t seem very focused on selling.

Developers from lots of countries can’t sell their apps, there’s not much of an effort to manage the store or do quality control, and there’s not really much effort to stop piracy. It’s also not very easy or straightforward to pay for apps and the option to ‘return’ apps causes lots of problems.

It seems Amazon has decided its time to fix things.

At ListWare there are strong rumors that Amazon is building its own Android Store

* Can’t say because I signed the NDA :). Looked legit to me but read the fine print; more restrictive than Android market.

* Is it a killer? Amazon has a global payment system, so it will reach most countries. Personally, I’d use Amazon over AndroidMarket, if the rating and comment system was any where near the quality Amazon has on their primary site.

* It is legit. Once you accept the NDA they will send you more info.

This would be a brilliant move – one of Machiavellian proportions.

You have a widely spreading, supposedly open, Mobile Operating System and Amazon could end up owning the most lucrative and powerful App Store on/for it.

Why Amazon building an Android App Store is pure genius

Well, consider the different aspects –

  1. In an open system the power of the default takes over.
  2. Google is assuming that it’ll be able to set its own offerings as the default (including Google Editions when it’s available).
  3. If Amazon can become the default App Store, one that is well done and does quality control and screens apps well, then it controls the defaults.
  4. It’s absolutely brilliant strategy. Take the Open System and mold it into what you want by controlling the starting point.
  5. Amazon’s App Store would keep out the low quality apps. It would ensure developers from any country can get paid. It would let people pay easily through their Amazon accounts or via other options.
  6. Amazon would leverage its customer experience to make sure the experience is great.
  7. It would kill the ‘returns’ policy and thus stop one way of pirating apps.
  8. It would be stricter about stopping piracy.
  9. Everyone already equates Amazon with trust and great customer service.

Amazon’s Android App Store would instantly become a better option than the Android Market – initially for Amazon customers and soon for everyone.

TechCrunch has a list of rumors/details

M. G. Siegler finally writes a good post (well, adding ‘finally’ might be a bit unfair but he does love to Kindle-hate) and ferrets out some details about the Amazon Android App Store

For each sale of an App, we will pay you a royalty equal to the greater of 70% of the purchase price or 20% of the List Price as of the purchase date (70/30 is standard, this 20/80 split is somewhat odd and confusing).

It seems like if your app is available on other platforms, you have to make sure to update it at the same time on Amazon’s store that you do in any other store. (this will piss off a lot of developers).

Just from the first few details it’s obvious this is Amazon. The first requirement has to do with pricing the app at the same price as at other stores and the second requirement has to do with keeping apps as up to date in the Amazon Android App Store as they are on other platforms.

This is so similar to what Amazon has for its Kindle Store (for books) that you suspect they just copied the clauses.

There are a few other clauses – Apps will have to have Amazon DRM, Amazon can pull apps, Apps might be shown on, it’s US only.

Amazon might be building up the Kindle App Store and the Android App Store in parallel. They’re both based on Java and there must be lots and lots of similarities in developing, promoting, and maintaining each. What a clever move.

Most of the threat of Google Editions is Google’s ability to make it the ‘default’ reading app on Android. Well, if Amazon’s Android App Store becomes the de-facto Android App Store then Amazon could negate that advantage and perhaps even take over Android mobile retail.

Here are a series of comments from TechCrunch that illustrate why this is such a good move for Amazon –

Anonymity86: This could be really good. Nobody runs online stores like they do. They have quality reviews from an existing large community where people already have reputation scores. They have a top notch recommendation engine. You’ll have Amazon customer service behind you. This has a lot of potential

Daniel: +1 this could really help because the market (Android Market) simply sucks

Stefan: I agree. This would be an app store I’d like to try.

It would be rather ironic if Android became, in effect, a distribution channel for Amazon.

What a smart, smart move by Amazon. Plus a really good lesson for all the companies that think Open is a smart strategy – it’s only a smart strategy if you can get your competitor to open up their system while you keep yours closed (implicitly or explicitly).

2 thoughts on “Kindle's new Tablet rivals, Amazon invading Android via App Store”

  1. Speaking about competiton – as we know , Target Stores now carry Kindle 3 in their local stores.

    Last Friday, 9/24/10, Target gave a news release that local Target Stores will now carry the iPad in their stores starting Oct. 3rd; and then, later on around Oct. 17th, Target is having a newer Target charge card, that if you use that card to purchase an iPad, you will get 5% off the price.
    So, for people who want to see in person, a Kindle and an iPad, they can do both at Target Stores. (As well, as I believe, Best Buy does have both; but BB does not have the 5% off iPad price.

    Have you seen this Target Store press release?

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