The key point is that Amazon’s first tablet, any way you slice it, sounds like just as much of a threat to the iPad as all the other Android tablets have been so far. That is to say, no threat at all. Instead, it will likely be more of a threat to their own Kindle device (it’s hard to make the “this device is no good for reading” argument out of one side of your mouth while saying the opposite out of the other). And much more so, it will be a huge threat to Google.
Back in March, when Amazon released their own Android Appstore, I made the case for why Amazon now had to release their own Android-powered devices. Simply put, the process to install the Android appstore is way too complicated, Amazon needs devices they can ship with the store pre-installed. And more importantly, their stores pre-installed. As in, any device they ship is going to be filled with Amazon to the brim. That includes the ability to sign in to your Amazon Prime account the buy things with one click.
When that happens, Amazon will have an Android tablet that is more compelling than any other Android tablet on the market on day one. There are plenty of whispers of Google planning their own “Nexus” tablet for later this year when the Ice Cream Sandwich variety of Android is ready to go, but the consumer ease-of-use that Amazon can offer will likely trump anything Google puts out there.
That’s why Google should be scared shitless of this Amazon tablet. Thanks to the “openness” of Android, Google has handed Amazon the keys to the Android kingdom. Amazon is going to launch a tablet that runs Android, but it will be fully Amazon’d. It will use Amazon’s Appstore, it will use Amazon movies, it will use Amazon books, it will use Amazon music, etc. Google will have no control over this, even though it will be the seminal Android tablet. That would be terrifying for any brand.
Sure, you could argue that an Amazon Android tablet will still benefit Google because it will lead to more Google searches. But who says that will be the case? If I were Microsoft, I’d go all-in when negotiating with my Seattle technology neighbor to get a Bing search deal done for this new tablet.
Google has been able to control Android so far while keeping it “open” because they offer carrots to partners to stay with them for most services. Those carrots are Google apps, Google branding, early access to new Android builds, etc. But Amazon likely won’t care about those things. They could be the first major player to use Android that Google has absolutely no control over.
This is going to be fascinating to watch. All I know is that if I were Apple, I wouldn’t be too concerned by this Amazon tablet. Next year, maybe. But not now. But if I were Google, I’d put down those Android carrots I’ve been offering up and go find my stick.