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Is Windows 8 Bad News For Kindle Tablet?

There are two major factors favoring the success of the Kindle Tablet right now, aside from being backed by Amazon and all that that entails.  One is that it will be cheaper than pretty much all of the tablet competition, especially the big names like Apple.  Two is that it should be able to provide a consistent, centralized experience practically unheard of in the Android Tablet market today.

Pricing is a key issue, of course.  It will be incredibly hard for most companies to compete with Amazon since their media sales emphasis will allow them to sell hardware at or below cost while confidently expecting to make up the profits in post-sale usage.  The only really usable tablet in the same range is the Nook Color, which is mostly only succeeding by being great compared to other extremely cheap tablets.  If Amazon can manage to provide a genuinely superior experience at the same price, they will stand alone with good reason.

We can’t rely entirely on pricing to determine success, though.  The Pandigital Novel can often be found for $80 or less, but that doesn’t mean it is knocking the Kindle down from their place on top of eReader sales (despite being a color eReader, which many people claim is more important than screen quality or interface).

The act of creating a consistent Android experience, however, might soon be less useful than we might expect, should Windows 8 live up to its promise.  Microsoft’s new tablet-centric operating system seems to have a good chance of focusing tablets around a single unfragmented environment that has no ties to a specific manufacturer.  They’ve got media play capabilities, the full versatility of a Windows OS, an apparently highly streamlined design, and even an App Store.  It can be hard to argue with all that.

The Kindle Tablet will clearly be running lower powered hardware than most Windows tablets can be expected to, and will have a more consumption-focused experience.  The problem they are facing is less direct market competition and more a conflict of perception.  If the idea is to lure in consumers with something that is like an iPad in every way that matters besides the price, it will only work so long as the iPad is what people are using as the basis for comparison.  A $350 Windows tablet with superior hardware and a comparable user experience might be enough to derail the whole effort no matter what kind of incentives Amazon is able to throw in to sweeten the pot.

In the end everything will rest on how the two launches go.  Amazon has earned a great deal of customer loyalty through the Kindle platform, which goes a long way toward jump starting the new product.  Microsoft, on the other hand, has left many potential customers and developers a bit put off with the extremely different direction their newest product has taken things.  A failure to impress on the part of either company will mean a lot for the competition.

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