With tech analysts continuously prophetizing when its savior will come to rescue us from the tyrannical reign that is the Apple iPad, it’s difficult to separate fact from fiction.
TechCruch’s MG Siegler gives us the most concrete information to date and manages to get some hands on time with the fabled tablet, praising it for its integration with all of Amazon’s cloud services. The 7″ device uses a heavily modified version of Android 2.3 with no traces of any Google insight. None of Google’s applications are on it at all – no Gmail, Market, Music, Maps… nothing familiar with what we know that is Android will be visible to is flock which is what I was afraid of.
Like most geeks, I was hoping for more of a general purpose tablet, with dreams of a low cost Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich running slickly… although my instincts told me otherwise. Similar to the Barnes and Noble Nook Color, the Amazon Tablet is tailored to sell Amazon’s services. There will be a custom new interface suited to promote Amazon MP3, Kindle Reader, their AppStore for Android with absolutely no way to replace them. It’s going to be locked down just like the Apple iPad, and probably much worse as the competing tablet will be focused totally on chilling Amazon’s wares. Forget about it having any possibility of becoming a productivity tool; goodbye to any office productivity apps such as VNC, Citrix, Dropbox. Amazon, being first and foremost a retailer, this strategy makes perfectly good sense especially if you’re going to subsidize it for $250 and relying on consumers continuously purchasing through your channels for revenue. If Wallmart or Sears creating a tablet – they’d do exactly the same thing. Amazon doesn’t want to directly confront Apple in a war that they know they will lose; they’re picking specific battlefields where they have the high ground and have a chance of holding.
So for all of us who are looking for someone to go directly against Apple and sell us a device that has the right mix of entertainment and productivity options the pickings are slim. Although there are a plethora of Android tablets being released, none of them have the applications nor the cachet of the iPad. The devices are good, but the price and value proposition is still in Apple’s court. Something will need to change and we all know that HP showed us the market is primed for a low cost entrant, but currently no one is willing to take that much of a leap of faith.