Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Tablet Wars Finally Heat Up

Things are starting to get interesting in the tablet zone. If you haven't heard already, Amazon announced a new version of its Kindle Fire last week, and where last time, it was mainly the price difference that stood out, this time around, things are more intriguing. The specs are starting to look equal, and the price is still wildly different--cheaper in favor of Amazon, by a good margin. The Kindle Fire HD has a cheap data plan with no monthly payments, stereo sound, a sweet screen, faster wifi, 4G technology--it's looking like a robust tablet, and it's more than a hundred dollars less than a comparable iPad.

How can Amazon do it?

They're very upfront about it. They're not in the tablet business. They're in the content business. They want to sell as much content as possible. Movies, books, products--you name it. They don't need to make money on the tablet, as long as they make money on the content people buy for that tablet. It's a valid approach, and I'm sure it's going to make them a lot of money.

Of course, I personally am all in favor of equal competition. Any time any one company starts getting big enough to bully others around, the consumer loses. Unfortunately, it's getting harder and harder to tell who to root for. In the Amazon/Apple tablet wars, do you gun for Amazon, so that Apple is pushed to do more and innovate? But if you do, what happens in the Amazon/Apple eBook wars, where Apple's been trying to challenge Amazon's stranglehold on the market? There are no easy answers to these sort of questions. Ideally, companies wouldn't gobble up every other company, until it was just super companies vs. mega companies, but that's not the reality we live in.

Tomorrow, Apple will announce its latest round of iPhone and other iWhatevers. I'll be watching closely to see what they end up offering, and to see if Amazon's announcement causes any ripples. There are rumors of a mini iPad. (Isn't that what an iPhone is?) We shall see . . .

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