5 Reasons Why Amazon's Tablet is the Only Real iPad Alternative

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To all the companies who released new tablets this week, I have some bad news. They don’t matter. And not because of the iPad’s dominance. It’s because the Amazon tablet is coming. Maybe you didn’t hear me right: THE AMAZON TABLET IS COMING! Sorry, Lenovo IdeaPad A1, a $199 price tag alone won’t be enough to move the needle. Toshiba AT200, you’re sexy thin, but full-sized ports won’t win over the masses.

I know, I know, the Amazon tablet isn’t even a real product yet. And that’s exactly why the buzz surrounding this unreleased gadget should scare the crap out of the competition. In July, a Retrevo study showed that 55 percent of tablet shoppers would most likely buy a tablet from Amazon, 17 points higher than the nearest competitor. Here are five reasons why this slate will make nearly every iPad alternative instantly irrelevant and gobble up a sizable chunk of Apple’s pie.

One Store and One Account for Everything—Including Apps

One of the best things about the Sony S Tablet is that it's bundled with apps for Sony's book, music, and video stores. There’s also a front-end for discovering apps, but it just takes you to the Android Market. That’s one extra account a user must set up and manage. Amazon has all of the above, plus its own app store. Sure, the selection isn’t as robust as Google’s, but I can’t overstate the advantage of having one bill for all of your content purchases. See iTunes. And while Samsung and HTC have built their own music and video stores, Amazon has a huge built-in advantage with the number of people who already have Amazon accounts, 137 million and counting.

It Will Be Cheap Without Being “Cheap”

Not counting the $99 HP TouchPad fire sale special, most tablets thus far priced under $300 have been total garbage. So when the New York Post reported earlier this week that the Amazon Kindle would be “hundreds less” than the iPad, a lot of people took notice. My guess for the starting price? $249, the same as the Barnes & Noble Nook Color. Except the Amazon Tablet won’t just be a reading tablet with access to apps. It will run full-blown Android. Amazon won’t chintz out on the design, either, like your ViewSonics and E Funs. It will be willing to take a loss on the hardware in exchange for customers buying more books, more movies, and more of everything else.

Amazon will have plenty of higher quality competition in this price band, including the $299 Vizio Tablet and the $199 Lenovo IdeaPad A1, but neither of those slates have Amazon’s content or clout.

Amazon Knows How to Market a Product, Including Cheating

Let’s be honest. Amazon has enjoyed a very unfair advantage in the eReader market. That’s because the company has been able to promote the Kindle line front and center on the most visited shopping website. When I went to Amazon’s homepage this morning I saw a huge ad that said “Kindle: The Best Selling eReader in the World.” No duh!

The Amazon Tablet will enjoy the same favorable treatment, so it will likely rocket to the No. 1 or No. 2 spot on the site in short order (assuming it works as advertised). And that’s probably the scariest thing of all about the Amazon tablet to anyone else making slates. It will literally sell itself.

I also have to give Amazon credit for its clever Kindle TV spots, especially the ones that poked fun of the iPad’s lack of outdoor readability. Look for Amazon to stick it to Apple again—this time on price.

It Will Give You Free Stuff

The other night my wife and I sat down in front of the Roku box and watched a few Cheers episodes for free. We were accessing Amazon’s Instant Video collection, one of the perks of being an Amazon Prime member. For $79.99 per year, you get free two-day shipping on Amazon purchases plus unlimited streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows. I expect Amazon to extend this perk to its tablet. Granted, the content selection isn’t very timely, but neither is Netflix’s streaming catalog. It’s also conceivable that the Amazon Tablet itself will cost less for Prime members.

In addition, the Amazon Appstore for Android gives away a paid app for free every day. Amazon also offers a free song of the day in its MP3Store, but I think the company needs to offer a streaming option as well to compete with Slacker and Spotify. Or try one subscription price for unlimited music and video streaming. This whole asking consumers to upload their tracks to the cloud thing isn’t going to fly.

It Will Know What You Like…and Tell You What Your Friends Like

There’s no question that online shopping feels less cumbersome and more natural on a slate than being hunched over a laptop. And Amazon will seek to leverage that advantage by bundling its tablet with a shopping app that makes recommendations based on your purchase history. I fully expect Amazon to do the above with apps, making a typically confusing experience more refined and personal.

The experience will also be social. Amazon has a Tap Into Your Friends feature in Beta online that enables the site to recommend movies, music, and other content based on your Facebook profile, as well as see upcoming birthdays and find Amazon Wish Lists for your friends. Imagine seeing these alerts land right in your notification window on the tablet. Don’t be surprised to see multiple “I want an Amazon tablet” updates show up in your feed.


Aside from hardware, one of the main reasons the iPad has succeeded is because of its extensive ecosystem of music, movies, and apps, all of which can be purchased from one location with one account. That's something no other tablet maker can yet boast, but Amazon has all the pieces in place to do just that. If it can deliver a tablet that looks great and performs well, everyone else might as well go home.

Editor-in-chief Mark Spoonauer directs LAPTOP's online and print editorial content and has been covering mobile and wireless technology for over a decade. Each week Mark's SpoonFed column provides his insights and analysis of the biggest mobile trends and news. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
Add a comment
  • dstrauss Says:

    Thalia is so right - 16:9 SUCKS for reading and browsing. Why is it so critical to not have little black bars on your screen, when a 4:3 aspect ratio gives you a near 8x11.5 PAPER-LIKE viewing experience. Here's to hoping Amazon did it right.

  • Paul Says:

    Its going to have to have a lot better than android 2.1 as rumored and have access to Android market before I would be willing to pay $250 bucks for the thing. Other rumors no ext. card, no cammera. It had better one wonderfull high res IPS screen to make it worth that amount just as an eReader.

  • conquer Says:

    Mark...you just brain farted

  • PHuZZy Says:

    It's not going to do that much outside of US as the Music market among other things are NOT availalbe...........

  • apple Says:

    Nook Color Android-based tablet/eReader from Barnes & Noble has been on the market for over a year and sold millions of units at $250. Gives Flash, apps, videos, color magazines and ebooks with video inserts, and the best anti-glare coated screen on the market. Technology "giant" Amazon is finally catching up with the book store company by copying their device.

  • ipad Says:

    I'll stick with the iPad.

  • Gabriel Says:

    No Mark, amazon tablet will also fail, probably your wish is that it wont but it will, one reason is that it will use android, other reason is because apple is apple, no matter what, apple is not about what editors and analysts want, it is about what consumers want, and thats why apple will grow and grow and destroy all in its pat, google and intel are apple ultimate victims, oh yes, those will fall too.

  • Thalia Says:

    I can't agree with you more. I am waiting for an Amazon tablet, which is why I returned my Asus Transformer, not too crazy about HP Touchpad fire sale, and ignored latest news on upcoming tablets. I'm not very loyal to Amazon, but up to now, they have offered me excellent products and services, reasonable prices, free shipping (yes I was a student), and a wide range of selection. I even think about buying their Prime Membership after my Student Prime expires because of their free movie streaming.

    Only one thing I want to know before buying: the tablet's aspect ratio. I hope Amazon will use 4:3 screen like the iPad instead of the worthless 16:9. First and foremost, I need a good reading and web browsing device, not a lame movie player.

  • ramon leigh Says:

    Amazon is way more than just a place where you can get MP3 tracks , etc. You can find ANYTHING at Amazon, I'm convinced. Amazon is poised to become this generation's Sears & Roebuck , the store that started it all.
    I've avoided Apple for years - they seem to be primarily a huckstering outfit, especially Jobs - he keeps re-inventing the same thing, with a few added features and selling at 100% markups. Now we'll see just exactly what an iPad
    costs to produce and merchandise - as soon as Amazon's tablet tornado starts blowing on iPad sales. The arrogant
    Apple folks will finally realize that price matters and that Apple doesn't have a monopoly on good design. Couldn't
    happen to a more deserving company.

  • jimstoic Says:

    One more reason: loyalty. Amazon customers, like Apple customers, are loyal. We have an affection for the company that goes beyond mere rationality.

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