How the Kindle Is Showing the Path for Android

Amazon is going to be bringing out a tablet soon, and TechCrunch got the scoop on the details. We’ll go over the specs in a moment, but what’s important is that it’s a 7″ Kindle successor that runs a heavily modified port of Android – without the Market. But, honestly, that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that this Kindle tablet will not equal the iPad’s price, nor surpass it. It will cost just $250.

The Kindle is an extremely popular device, even if not in sales numbers. While I don’t personally own a Kindle, I know people who do and they love their device when it comes to its primary purpose: e-reading. And it’s became very evident that Android’s chance at success is not trying to “kill” the iPad, but trying to target specific markets, like the Kindle does.

I think Android is failing in the tablet market, and I don’t think they are going to improve fast enough to turn a profit. However, I also think there’s a massive potential for Android to move into brand new markets and take over the world.

A 7-Inch Color Kindle

TechCrunch’s report says that Amazon’s tablet will be focused very heavily on the Kindle, rather than being a general, jack-of-all-trades Android tablet. Instead of having the usual 10-inch screen size, the Amazon tablet will feature a 7-inch screen, with Amazon opting for a colour touchscreen over e-ink. This makes it an inch bigger than the current Kindle; that’s a pretty appropriate size for a tablet aimed primarily at e-readers, because it’s roughly the size of a regular book.

The Kindle tablet will run Android (we wouldn’t be writing about it here if it weren’t), although, apparently, it won’t be like anything you’ve seen before. This is because Amazon is not trying to create a tablet, they’re trying to create an e-reader. Because of the categorisation of the device, Amazon has left out the Android Market, meaning that you can’t easily install third-party apps. This is purely speculation, but since Amazon are still said to be refining the software still, I’d think the final model would somehow work with the Amazon Appstore.

The Kindle would act like the Barnes and Noble Nook Colour: it’d be an e-reader, but the Android architecture would be evident.

The current Kindle.

But It’s No iPad Killer

The Amazon tablet is not trying to be an iPad killer, which is the sole reason it might succeed. When we take a look at all the other tablets competing for market share (the HP TouchPad, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the HTC Flyer and so on), they are all trying to steal customers away from Apple and not succeeding in doing so. They’re not pricing their products competitively enough to attract buyers, and aren’t really providing a good enough argument for anyone but an Android fanboy to buy their product (why buy some Android tablet that does the same stuff as the iPad your friends and family use and love?). If I had to give one piece of advice to these companies, i’d suggest they give up on this market, immediately.

However, Amazon is coming at this with a completely different approach. They’re not building an Android tablet, they’re trying to use Android to power a more niche and unique product. Android has an opportunity to target different markets, but not the general tablet one because Apple is leading and will be for some time, meaning there’s really no point in Android trying to catch up with the tablet.

You can't argue with the figures.

Final Thoughts

I bet the Kindle tablet will succeed because it’s not trying to kill the iPad. Instead, it’s rejuvenating a completely different product. iOS is the tablet operating system, and, with Amazon’s help, Android might be the e-reader’s operating system. Plus, being open-source, Android might become the the OS for a whole range of different markets and industries.

Aside from phones, I reckon Android will succeed in completely new markets that we haven’t thought about pushing Android into yet. It will not work for tablets (right now, at least). That little display on your fridge might one day be powered by Android, and maybe the self check-in at the airport will be too, or the kiosk at the museum. Those might be more optimistic visions, but it’s my expectation (nay, hope) that open-source Android will be favoured by a lot more markets as they modernise.

Agree with me? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!


  • http://twitter.com/necomus Moises

    I’m a bit excited to see what Amazon comes up with. I just purchased a Nook Touch and am now sold on eReaders and eBooks but if the new Kindle provides enough incentive and features that I need, I may end up buying it.

  • Renegade

    I would agree with you if this article was written 6 months ago. I have to disagree though, because the Asus Transformer is already killing (a part) of iPad. Honestly, right now it’s whether you want a richer app market (iOS wins against Android on this) or better hardware (Transformer wins against iPad2).

    • Connor Turnbull

      Have to disagree with you there. No way that the Transformer is making any impact on the iPad, in my opinion.

  • http://samcater.com Sam Cater

    I disagree about Android failing in the tablet market. The demand for a complete port to the HP Touchpad after it’s booming sales, and the amount of Android tablets on sale today indicate that popularity is huge. Okay, definitely not anywhere near the iPad’s, but Android is definitely not that far behind. I do agree that spreading out to loads of devices with many purposes is surely the way to ‘win’.

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  • maclifer

    Let’s not forget that Amazon will make this 7″ much more than just an e-reader (and, btw, I have a Kindle 3 and love it for reading) – it will also stream video and allow VOD purchases through Amazon’s current infrastructure and *will* allow installation of apps but only from the Amazon Appstore.

    Amazon has made all the right moves over the last few years to create a product that will have instant popularity and will be able to take advantage of their many cloud offerings and be fully optimized for that purpose. It will be a consumption device that’s reasonably priced instead of being so outrageously priced as the iPad still is.

    I agree that Amazon will succeed wildly with this device and applaud them for taking a courageous, creative and well timed move to aim for the consumption market and to have the infrastructure that’s completely up to snuff and ready to take on the scads of users they’ll invariably obtain.

    I waited a long time but ended up buying a TouchPad from eBay recently and am very happy with it. I’m a long, long Amazon customer since they were first up on the web but they took too long to bring out a device that i’d have gladly purchased. Seeing the recent work that Cyanogen is doing on porting to the HP TouchPad makes a dual boot a very real scenario before the year is out.

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