What is Amazon waiting for? Some deals

First, for your Kindle, some deals -

  1. The Horse Boy: A Father’s Quest to Heal His Son by Rupert Isaacson. Price: $2.99. Genre: Parenting & Families, Special Needs, Autism, Spirit Healing. Rated 4.5 stars on 55 reviews. 
  2. The Power of Half by Hannah Salwen and Kevin Salwen. Price: $4.77. Genre: Getting More out of Less, Giving Back, Sharing is Caring. Rated 4 stars on 71 reviews. 
  3. In Her Name (Omnibus Edition) by Michael R. Hicks. Price: $1. Genre: Epic Fantasy, Adventure, Science Fiction, Military Space Opera. Rated 4.5 stars on 58 reviews.

It’s quite interesting to see a book with so much promise (the third one) stuck outside the Top 1,000. How do you manage to get 4.5 stars on 58 reviews, be at $1, and still not be in the Top 1,000?

Anyways, this brings me to something even more perplexing.

What is Amazon waiting for? Why doesn’t it release a Kindle Tablet?

Nook Color is rumored to have sold 3 million units. It’s also rumored that B&N is taking delivery of 600,000 to 700,000 Nook Colors a month.

There are three big markets here -

  1. People looking for a dedicated reading device. Some portion of them are buying the argument that Nook Color is a Reading Tablet.
  2. People looking for a Tablet-eReader hybrid. Nook Color is almost perfect for this group of people.
  3. People looking for a cheap Tablet. Nook Color is almost perfect for this group too.

Amazon is losing out on some Kindle sales because of 1, i.e. Nook Color as reading tablet is competing with Kindle as dedicated reading device.

However, far more worrying are the two niches where Amazon isn’t even competing -

  1. Amazon doesn’t have a Tablet-eInk hybrid. Now that Apple has set up its patent defence with an eInk-LCD hybrid tablet patent, Amazon might never be able to create such a hybrid.
  2. Amazon doesn’t have a tablet. There is a huge market for a non-Apple tablet - No one is stepping up to the plate. The situation is so bad that Nook Color is selling millions of units just because it has ended up being the best non-iPad tablet-like device. Think about that for a second – the market demand for a cheap Android Tablet (or a cheap tablet, period) is so high that people are buying a reading tablet and trying to use it as a full tablet.

Amazon is literally spurning these two markets – Go, get a Nook Color. We have nothing for you.

Where is Amazon’s Kindle Tablet?

It’s been nearly 5 months since Nook Color was introduced. It’s been nearly 5 months since people began talking about the danger of Nook Color. It’s been 4 months since the main stream media realized that Nook Color is a huge threat.

Yet, nothing from Amazon.

  • Perhaps Amazon doesn’t realize that if Nook Color sales get to the 10 million mark, and the Nook App Store isn’t a total disaster, then B&N will be set for the next 10 years.
  • Perhaps Amazon feels that because it has set up its Android App Store it can delay the actual hardware. That Angry Birds Rio will make up for a 5-6 month delay in the hardware.
  • Perhaps B&N took Amazon by surprise. It certainly took everyone else by surprise.

Here’s the question – Would you rather have an Android App Store with 10,000 apps or would you rather have 3 million Reading Tablets in circulation?

I’d take the latter every single time. 3 million Nook Colors makes for a huge customer base. It means that B&N is getting data points it can use to build a stellar Nook Color 2. It means that Amazon’s Kindle Tablet will have the odds against it.

3 million is a huge number – especially in the first 5 months. If this were Apple we would be getting presentations about a revolutionary new category having been created and about Nook Color outselling the first version of Wrigley’s chewing gum.

How much more time does Amazon have before the game is lost?

Amazon probably thinks it can release a Kindle Tablet in Fall 2011 and still put up a fight.

Reality is that if Amazon doesn’t release a Kindle Tablet within the next 2 to 3 months it will have B&N as a rival in the Reading Tablet and Tablet markets for a very long time. If it delays beyond 5 to 6 months, it might never be able to catch up.

The iPad is eating up most of the high-end Tablet Market. Nook Color is eating up a lot of the low-end Tablet market. Despite its huge strengths, Amazon can’t afford to let Apple and B&N lock-up huge pieces of the Tablet market. There’s a huge difference between fighting for an undecided customer versus stealing away another company’s customers. Just ask all the people trying to compete with Windows and Google Search.

An Inflection Point of the strangest sort

What’s happened since Nook Color launched? Nothing.

What has Amazon done since Kindle 3 launched? Not much.

So, we have had a stretch of 5 to 8 months with very little happening. And that very nothingness might have been an inflection point. B&N has probably created the post-eReader reading device and Amazon has let it grow and prosper sans competition.

There is still time. Amazon should announce something within the next few weeks and it should get something out within the next few months. If it doesn’t, it might be left wondering how it was too blind to realize that the post-eReader reading device, the Reading Tablet, is a far bigger threat to the Kindle than Publishers and Apple and physical books.

12 Responses

  1. I would be quite surprised if they did not have one in development and as such wouldn’t announce it yet.

    There are some difficulties with Android Gingerbread for tablets since right now only the Xoom is allowed to get Gingerbread and when Google releases it for all table manufacturers has not been announced. Releasing a table without Gingerbread would be a total fail. Though the Xoom has had sales only around 100,000.

    The Amazon App store also points to them going down this road.

    I think though that it is more important for Amazon to do a tablet right than to get it out faster. There would certainly be a market for a table from a trusted source like Amazon. They could also be looking for the next generation of screens that would have double the resolution of the iPad to make it an excellent ereader. The cost of these screens though are prohibitive for now.

    Now I say this as an Apple fanboy who bought the iPad and iPad 2 on day one. I just love competition and would like to see a solid Android tablet. In the meantime I am reading lots of books on my iPad and most of them bought from Amazon.

    On the contra side since Amazon’s ebook business and their ebook hardware divisions are separate it is hard to determine what their hardware team things about a tablet knowing that it would necessarily cost more than the Kindle and doing both might not look like a good idea to them.

  2. I have been wondering about the Kindle tablet also. But does Amazon need to release a tablet? There are 3 to 4 Android Honeycomb tablet coming in the next couple months and they all have the Amazon cloud music app, the Kindle app, access to the Amazon app store. Would the Kindle tablet be just one more device among all the other tablets? I am not sure what Amazon can do to differentiate itself from Xoom, LG Slate and Samsung Galaxy.

  3. Just bought In Her Name…. hoping to help it make up the bestseller chart! just so happen it’s totally my kind of book too :)

  4. My understanding is that all Apple has done is patented a system for automatically switching between LCD and eInk on a display. This wouldn’t rule Amazon out from creating a hybrid display. And I find it difficult to get excited about cries for Amazon to do something when no one has any idea of how many Kindles have been sold that would enable one to properly work out how much of a threat the Nook is.

    • It blocks one of the most likely paths Amazon would have gone down.

      You can interpret things any way you like – Get excited or not get excited. The absence of numbers means people can take it absolutely any way they like. In fact, even with numbers you can interpret it however you feel.

  5. Where does the Entourage eDGe far into this mix? I own one of these devices and they’re great for research. But, I do nearly all my reading on the Kindle DX.

    • Entourage Edge is pretty expensive and it doesn’t have a big, known company backing it up. It has little chance of making a big impact. It’s unforutnate because I think it’s a clever, clever idea and exactly what an eReader/Tablet for students should be.

      iPad/iPad 2 = Pretend Textbook Reader.
      Entourage Edge = Real textbook reader.

      However, most college kids would rather look cool and show how unique and special they are by buying the device that everyone else is buying to appear unique and special.

  6. I find it hard to believe that Amazon don’t have anything like that in the works, however, they may be slow coming to the market.

  7. I have a K3 and an iPad2 with the Bluefire reader that allows me to download library books. My Nook wifi is gathering dust. I have what I need.

  8. I agree

  9. As a reader, I honestly don’t care whether or not Amazon is hurt by not releasing a tablet. What I do care about is that if they *do* start making one, it will only confirm the transition (which I consider a backwards or at best sideways step) from e-ink to LCD readers, and will hurt the prospects for companies developing new reflective e-readers. And that would be a bad thing for readers.

  10. Switch11,
    I’m with you on the impatience angle because timing is crucial.

    But I’m also with Jeffrey in that it’s very important they get it right. I wouldn’t want Amazon’s to have the many bugs I experience with my NookColor much as I love its screen.

    They can’t afford for it to be lacking anything relative to the Nook. I do feel they’ve been working on one for at least a year though. Their software tends to work so much better or more reliably than the Nook’s. That takes more care and I don’t want a rush-job as the NookColor apparently has been.

    But it should be, as you say, SOON.

    Ranjit, I feel it’s a complementary or supplemental reading device, not a step away from e-ink. I use the NC for color magazines and portable web-browsing, not particularly for book reading, as it does get to my eyes when doing sustained, sequential type reading. I use the E-Ink Kindle for outdoors and for long sessions with a book.

    Conditions not good for one device are good for the others. So that’s how many of us use them.

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