The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that Amazon will be releasing a tablet computing device by October.
Some quickie thoughts on this:
- Amazon is the only company with the media relationships AND comparably-sized billing relationship with consumers to directly challenge Apple. No one else has either of these elements, let alone both of them. Not Google, not HP, RIM, Microsoft, Facebook etc.
- In the consumer realm, Hollywood-style media (music, movies, TV shows, books) is such a core "job" of a tablet device, that NOT having an iTunes equivalent is analogous to a missing leg on a table. It's pretty integral, unless wobbly is okay with you.
- Arguably, Amazon understands product discovery and recommendation even better than Apple does, and certainly groks the transaction and distribution logistics of that equation at least comparably well.
- What's interesting about this one, is that while the spotlight is on Amazon and Apple as competitors, Amazon is also very well-positioned to outflank Google's play with Android. How? By better leveraging their installed base with Kindle; by building both tight integration with the Amazon Android App store and with Amazon Cloud Services; by better harnessing their recommendation services on both digital and physical goods (e.g., "Looking to buy a screwdriver? Constructor App will help you with construction project budgeting."); and of course, the aforementioned billing relationship, which facilitates one click purchases.
- For developers, the market needs an integrated alternative to iOS, if for no other reason than to keep Apple honest, and also because not enough developers are making serious coin in either the iOS or Android model. Amazon, if they get their act together, can seriously court developers on the premise of their success with their Cloud Services offerings, not to mention the various hybrid programs they have proven out over the years for smaller retailers to plug into the Amazon Marketplace. Heck, there is even a place for an affiliate model in all of this to make app discovery more viral. Put another way, there are legions of Android developers who like the Android model, but don't like having to support the compatibility matrix from hell on the device front, not to mention the fact that the Google model is all about free, which is not exactly music to the ears of the typical developer.
What gets me most excited about this is the fact that in Amazon and Bezos, you have a company that is clearly focused on execution.
Case in point, on both the product and M&A front, they have had very few crash and burn outcomes. This is a company that is disciplined and durable such that when they launch an effort they keep iterating until they get it right...and then they make it better.
Plus, as a developer, they are focused on making stuff that directly makes money when it sells. Not a trick subsidized offering to sell their real product, be it advertising, customer's data, etc.
Finally, it's hard not to root for a vendor whose approach inspires the kind of loyalty that one associates with...Apple (and Google).