The hypothetical Amazon tablet will take over the universe
A tablet-style e-reader from Amazon, the company behind the Kindle, would be immensely popular -- to the tune of 3 million to 5 million tablets sold in the last three months of 2011 alone -- if sold for under $300, "assuming it has enough supply to meet demand," Forrester Research wrote Monday.
In addition to serving as an e-reader, the hypothetical Amazon tablet would be able to change diapers, trim trees, mix up a mean gazpacho and, when necessary, defend its owner with a double-barreled shotgun.
Just kidding. It can't do any of those things.
How can just another tablet -- one that Amazon has not confirmed even exists -- prompt such an optimistic, multimillion-sales forecast? Earlier this month, the crowded tablet market forced Hewlett-Packard to pull the plug on its tablet. When HP Touchpad price tags were subsequently marked down to the very cheap $99, they sold out fast.
Forrester projects a low price point for Amazon's hypothetical tablet because of "Amazon's willingness to sell hardware at a loss." Forrester Research, it's worth noting, has maintained since April 2010 that "Amazon's product strategists should 'go head to head' with Apple and create its own tablet." As for the projected 2011 tablet, Forrester writes that a low price, "combined with the strength of its brand, content, cloud infrastructure, and commerce assets makes it the only credible iPad competitor in the market."
Put that way, it sounds revolutionary. But put another and it might sound familiar: It's like the Nook.
Barnes & Noble, like Amazon, has a strong brand and e-reading content. Its commerce assets aren't only online but include actual brick-and-mortar stores. Its Nook Color tablet has a 7-inch color touch-screen, 8 gigabytes of storage and a stripped-down version of Google's Android operating system. It costs $249.
What Amazon was able to do more than any other company was convince readers to adopt an e-reading device. There were e-readers before Amazon introduced the Kindle in 2007, but none caught on with readers to the extent the Kindle has.
That's exactly what Apple did with its iPad and the tablet market. Is there space for Amazon's imaginary tablet -- a space big enough to sell 3 million to 5 million before the end of 2011?
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Jeff Bezos announces Amazon's Kindle in November 2007. Credit: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press Photos