On Saturday morning, March 31, 2012, while performing my daily ritual of searching for subjects of interest, I stumbled across an article written by Mike Elgan of PC World. In his article he made an assessment of the tablet market in which he predicted an upcoming price war between Amazon and Google. In reading his thoughts of the upcoming battle, there were many points that I wouldn’t hesitate to agree with, but there was one issue to which I took exception — that being his comparison of the upcoming price war between these two industry giants.
The parts of the article that I would tend to endorse include the concept that Apple has little to fear from its less expensive (aka cheap tablet systems) competitors. Of course, those of you who read my articles are aware that I believe that Apple is, in fact, the company that is and will continue to be the dominating force in the ‘luxury tablet’ market. This makes me question just where Amazon and/or Google will find themselves since companies in recent history — in the form of HP, Asus, Motorola, and Samsung — have previously attempted to garner a share of the tablet market only to find that the consumer preferred to remain loyal to Apple and its superior iPad and iOS.
Now, admittedly, this is assuming that Google is actually going to introduce a tablet computer, of some type, in the very near future. Over the past few weeks, speculation has run the gamut, but overall seems to point toward Google introducing a 7″ model, manufactured by Asus and/or Samsung, that will operate via some form of Google Android. So, while I tend to concur with this thinking, we need to look at a few of Google’s past missteps in other markets.
To list just a couple, you can look at either Google’s attempt to enter the smartphone market with its Nexus mobile phone, or its attempt to introduce the pint-sized Google Chromebook into the laptop market. Both of these attempts failed due to the lack of public interest in already oversaturated markets. However, while the smartphone was the first to be withdrawn from manufacturing, Google moved ahead with the Chromebook, allowing a few to be distributed for testing. I was fortunate enough to be included in this testing process and obtain one of the first Cr-48 test units. It is worthy to note that this small unit still works and I find it useful when traveling. This means, at least to me, that the idea was sound and that Google had every reason to expect the Chromebook to be successful — but it wasn’t. It seems that consumers turned their noses up at it merely because the tablet computer is just more fun to use.
In reality, this is probably because, for the majority of us who use a computer to play a few games, write an occasional email, and/or do some surfing, a tablet computer is all we may need. In addition, a tablet makes an excellent venue from which to read books, magazines, or other documents. The reason behind this is how much easier the tablet is to maneuver in comparison to a hard copy book; now that the clarity of the new screens has been improved, one can’t beat it as a means of relaxation. Note that, today, tablet screen clarity is far superior to that of the original Kindle models — to the point of affording the consumer the ability to control screen brightness, font size, and background at the push of a button. Additionally, smaller tablets, such as the 7″ Amazon Kindle Fire, are far easier to carry around in either a women’s purse or, in my case, in my jeans pocket.
In Mr. Elgan’s article, he suggests that Google may have a huge advantage over Amazon in that Google can market its tablet as being built by various vendors. This is where I tend to disagree. I don’t think that this will necessarily be the case and here are a few facts to counter this assumption:
- The Amazon Kindle has a loyal clientele of followers who buy a ton of books from Amazon and Amazon alone.
- Since the Fire was introduced to the market in November of 2011, it has become one of Amazon’s most successful products.
- Though Apple leads the pack in revenue generated for application developers, Amazon already holds the number two position, placing Google in dead last place.
Last, I took offense to Mr. Elgan’s comment that people who buy the Amazon Kindle Fire are cheapskates who wouldn’t support Amazon by making future purchases from its marketplace. I own an Amazon Kindle Fire as well as an Apple iPad and have found a huge variety of movies and books that I have chosen to purchase from Amazon’s marketplace. This is in addition to the applications that Amazon provides for Kindle users. I believe that Amazon is a profitable company because it pays a higher rate to developers for creating worthwhile, affordable applications for its product. In addition, anyone who orders from Amazon — even those who do not consider themselves cheapskates — may wish to take advantage of Amazon’s Prime account that offers free shipping for all products as well as free entertainment in the form of movies, TV, and games.
So even though I admit to being a regular Amazon user who owns a Kindle Fire, has a Prime account, and buys applications from the company, I am also a fan of Google. My opinions and comments are not the result of any economic attachment or interest in the survival of either company. It is just that I personally believe Amazon is currently in a better position to win this particular battle.