It is not surprising to see me claiming that the Kindle is a great product, nor that the Kindle Tablet line is likely to be impressive. The former point is by now, I think, borne out as more than simply personal bias. The latter, while possibly wishful thinking given the lack of official detail so far, is based on a few points that seem to make sense to me. I’ll admit right at the outset that I’m not a market analyst, product tester, or specialist of any really useful sort when it comes to these things. I still just think that it makes a lot of sense.
The most important point that I see in favor of Amazon’s potential success is the marketing. So far, nobody has even come close to marketing a tablet as heavily as the iPad has been by Apple. On the occasions when you see much at all from the competition, they tend to be focusing on specific points of technical superiority. As far as I can tell, the average consumer is less concerned with what goes on behind the scenes than anything else about their device. That’s where Apple has managed to do so well up until now. They make a point of providing devices that “just work” without any knowledge or skill necessary. Amazon, along the same lines, has demonstrated well by now that they know how to point out what their potential customers might want to know without getting too technical.
The same basic theory applies to the product itself. Yes, there are some customers who will undoubtedly want to make use of the configurability that an Android Tablet provides to get the most out of every bit of potential the hardware has to offer. What will make the Kindle Tablet stand out, however, is a clean, understandable, and heavily supported user experience that any customer can pick up in no time at all. Whether or not existing tablets offer this, and some do to at least some extent, this is something that Amazon is known to do well based on both the Kindle as we know it today and the Amazon.com site as a whole.
I’m also hoping, of course, that they choose to make a big deal out of screen technology. Now, I love the iPad. I find all sorts of uses for it. The LCD screen is, in my personal opinion, its weakest point. If Amazon can release a Kindle Tablet with an optionally back-lit screen, not only should battery life make them stand out impressively, but general use will improve to the point where people cannot help but take notice. Now, we can’t know for sure that this will happen, but after having an entire ad campaign devoted to pointing out the shortcomings of the iPad’s LCD screen, I think it is fairly inevitable.
All of this makes the assumption, of course, that Amazon will be able to undercut Apple on tablet pricing. At present, Kindle Tablet pricing is estimated to be around $399 at launch. This would give them a jump on the iPad even with an underpowered device. Look how well the Nook Color did even before B&N realized that it didn’t work as just a dedicated eReader.