Helping Bookstores Remain Relevant
Where's Our Industry's GarageBand?

The Amazon Android Tablet I'd Buy

Amazon is apparently preparing to launch an Android App Store as early as this month.  Meanwhile, GigaOm's Kevin C. Tofel talks about how the real iPad challenge might come from Amazon in the form of an Android tablet.  I love it!

Why?  I could easily jump from iPhone/iPad to the Android platform this summer because my AT&T contract expires in June.  If the Samsung Galaxy Tablet I tried at the AT&T store recently is any indication, nobody is offering a compelling iPad alternative on the Android platform...yet.  Amazon could be uniquely positioned to do just that.

It's pretty clear that Steve Jobs was partially right a few years ago when he said, "People don't read anymore."  The comparison of apps, songs and books downloaded through iTunes might lead you to believe Steve was totally right.  What's missing from that chart though is information on book downloads from Amazon, B&N, etc.,  for customers using those other apps on their iPad.  In other words, people are still reading books...they're just not buying those books through the iBookstore.  No wonder Apple wants to start enforcing that in-app purchase policy.

The irony in all this is that a major book retailer already has an Android tablet.  Sort of.  The retailer is B&N and the pseudo-tablet is called Nook Color.  I call it a pseudo-tablet because it's really indended to be an ereader with a few add-on apps.  In order to get the full Android potential out of a Nook Color you have to hack it, thereby voiding the warranty.  Some owners are doing that but most are stuck with the limited functionality B&N intended for it.  That's too bad.

Could Amazon make the same mistake?  Sure, but I hope not.  There are two reasons they might though.  The first one has to do with customer support.  The Android platform isn't as tightly controlled as Apple's iOS.  Even though Amazon could decide when and what OS updates to push out there are all those third-party apps that make support that much harder.  That's a somewhat legitimate issue, but not anything that's insurmountable.

The other reason Amazon could follow B&N's lead though has to do with concerns over other e-reader apps on the Android platform.  Would Amazon really want to develop and sell their own Android app if other ebook retailers could offer apps for it?  I hope so.  The winner in the ebook retailer game won't be the one who builds the most walls around their platform.  This game will be won by the retailer with the best reader app, one that keeps adding more and more innovative functionality and isn't limited to just one hardware platform like the iBookstore is.

Amazon, if you get into the Android tablet market, do it with an open product.  Make it one I want to run out and buy, not something that concerns me with too many restrictions and limitations.

P.S. -- B&N, you guys are already more than halfway there with Color Nook.  It would be a shame to see Amazon steal a page from your playbook and create a better mousetrap.  If you're serious about competing here you should take the lead and make the Color Nook the true Android tablet it deserves to be.

Comments

Dominik

One doesn't have to 'hack' Nook Color in order to have a full Android (tablet) experience. Simply write a SD card with open software (Nookie Froyo, HC or Cyanogen), put it into a reader and power it up. I'd assume that this doesn't void warranty since no need to modify original software.

Lucian Armasu

It's in Amazon's interest to create a real open Android tablet that allows other readers, too, because they are the market leader and most people will use their reader anyway. They might get only 70% people to use the Kindle reader on their own tablet, but they will sell a lot more tablets, and in the end it's the better result for them, rather than limit it like B&N and sell a lot less.

Doug

If Amazon is going to release an android tablet, probably the main focus would still be on using it for e-reading, and thus it would have to be smaller and very lightweight (like the kindle).

So, it would probably end up being just like the nook color, except perhaps more lightweight.

A couple of things that could differentiate it: use a pixel qi display so all those people who like to read outdoors in the sun won't complain :) and also you could include a stylus to use for taking notes in the margins or annotating pdfs and other documents. The latter may catch on again - see the HTC Flyer and HP Slate and other tablets coming out with a stylus.

Another possible way it could differentiate itself - be more like a book, have a folding dual display. Again it would have to be very lightweight though. I forget the name of it, but there is an upcoming android tablet like this.

mark etect

amazon does mass retail and should stick to it. they could build a client for android and skirt the multibillion dollar layout for production of yet another android tablet. The client would talk seemlessly with amazon.com, and setup a local cache for purchased books. if apple thinks they are going to monopolize on books like they did music, they're dreaming.

Giao Vu

There is a reason why Barnes & Noble intentionally crippled the Nook Color: making the it a full-fledged Android device would create additional support problems, raising the cost with no real benefits to B&N. For B&N to venture into the tablet market would be much more of a stretch for a company barely survived the crash of the physical book medium.

The Nook Color with a faster processor would make a very nice Android device, however.

BookCalendar

My understanding is that Amazon is waiting on color E-ink to mature a little bit. It still cannot do animation or video very well. It is not that far off for an e-ink table.

Krishna Gurumurthy

Interesting post. You know, late last year, E-Ink announced an open Android development kit, http://www.eink.com/sell_sheets/AM350_Kit_Sell_Sheet.pdf , and I saw some videos from various ARM cpu vendors showing off their equivalents. I would not be surprised if a bunch of E-Ink Android devices started coming out this year, but I would be surprised if one of them was Amazon since they already have their own Kindl-OS for the Kindle.

Android Spy

To tell you you the truth, I'm just glad to see another big name adopting the 7" tablet form factor. I love the 7" but hate how limited the number of quality 7" Android devices is. I'm running an Archos 70 right now and the only others I would consider (that aren't vapor) are the Nook Color (for ROM-ability) or the 7" Galaxy Tab (now that the price has dropped. Otherwise, good 7" Android tablets are few and far between.

My thanks goes to Amazon for remembering those of us who LIKE the "tween" devices.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)