Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Editorial: The Tablet Landscape, Looking Forward
Today Amazon made a bold move indeed. What we had previously thought to be a $250 tablet device inexplicably became fifty dollars cheaper- at $199. There's just something about the price that is so alluring and all-too-close to impulse buy price. And for what it is, two hundred bucks (minus that last dollar of course) gets you a lot more than anything else (assuming there is another tablet for this price) on the market today. In fact, I can't think of a tablet thats both under four hundred dollars with high-end specs. But that's because there really isn't. And that in itself is what makes the Kindle Fire so incredible. And that in itself will be the reason that no competitor will be able to even dent the market Amazon has just broke up.
Think about it- the original iPad made waves when it launched for that "unbelievable" price of $499. Everybody had previously expected that such a device made by a company like Apple would cost at least a thousand dollars to produce. And that price alone is a reason that the iPad has become such an incredible seller. More so were/are it's features. It's a new way of thinking. Hell, it's an entirely new foray into computing. Nobody has done such before- that is, until today.
The tablet, per Amazon's interpretation, is a device for media consumption and a lot of it. Who has the time for writing up word documents or sending emails when you're so busy watching movies, playing Angry Birds and listening to your favorite tracks? That's another thing- reading, the essential reason this whole thing began for Amazon, is something of an afterthought. However, the device will actually offer the ability to send and receive emails, view and edit documents and with Amazon's new Silk browser- get work done online as well. This is the first device we've seen that successfully captures both elements of work and play in such a way that it becomes seamless and thoughtless. You simply... do. And that's all there is to it.
The tablet according to Apple is a consumer premium. You need to fork over at least five hundred of your precious hard earned dollars to be considered worthy enough to own one. But when you do- you'll find yourself satisfied. You'll have a great time what with all of those fantastic applications, movies, music and TV shows. But after a while, the device becomes rather stale. In the end, you just paid five hundred dollars for a toy- and an expensive one at that. That's where the true beauty of the Kindle Fire comes into play. It's near impulse buy price makes it worth it to have just spend money on a toy.
But the Kindle Fire and the iPad are so much more than toys. It's computing at it's highest level of innovation. It's a natural way to go about interacting with technology. So much so that old folks and kids can use it without error. The tablet industry may have been a speculative market back in January of 2010, but it certainly won't be going anywhere now. Company's have made it clear that this is a big deal, and customers have responded. The iPad is selling like hotcakes. The Kindle Fire is about to sell like whatever is better than hotcakes. And those other products that aren't tablets? They're bound to sell like whatever the opposite of hotcakes is. These are devices that successfully achieve computing in both it's entertainment and productive forms. We like to do both. We don't like to pay a lot of money to do it right. We like portable products over stationary ones. And both Amazon and Apple have answered our desire and now established two sectors for such to exist.
There's the inexpensive route which is undeniably Amazon. They deliver a powerful "premium" product for an affordable price. And not Apple's definition of affordable- this thing is cheaper than an iPod touch or any phone on the market. However, you don't nix quality for quantity (or in this case, the lack thereof).
Then there's the premium that's been set by Apple. Five. Hundred. Dollars. That's how much you'll pay for an entry-level iPad 2. And as far as we know, that's how much you'll pay for the same thing tomorrow. It's still an affordable price- but it's not Amazon affordable. Then again, it's also a fantastic product. There's a reason no company has been able to best Apple- it's because the iPad is the best tablet on the market. And it'll likely always have that spot. But it certainly doesn't have the best price on the market.
So, as you can see, there will be two sectors in the tablet market; affordable and premium. Sounds familiar doesn't it? That's because EVERY OTHER MARKET HAS THIS. And it took the tablets longer to do so. But this is certainly the first time we've seen a quality tablet for such a low price. And surely, some crazy company will try to compete with it. But they'll be squashed. The way in which Amazon deeply integrates it's services, something that Apple also does just as well, can never be achieved by any other company hoping to stick with Android. That's just the way things are. Both Apple and Amazon have the content and it's delivery system. And that is why the iPad has won the game in the past and why Amazon will share it's win tomorrow.
The tablet market is sure to experience a major shake up in the coming weeks, months and years. But over time, these taboo devices will become more and more usable and understandable.