Tablets represent a huge opportunity for Bezos, not only to sell a new kind of device but also to entice people to buy more stuff. Even with only 28.7 million iPads sold, e-commerce sites say they see an increasing amount of traffic coming from tablets.Forrester Research (FORR) reported this summer that online purchases made on tablets now account for 20 percent of all mobile e-commerce sales, and that nearly 60 percent of tablet owners have used them to shop. Bezos says tablets “are a huge tailwind for our business.” Amazon once saw spikes in traffic during the workday lunch hours. Now traffic is more evenly distributed as people pick up their tablets anytime of the week, buying the books and albums they see on television and making impulsive decisions about replacing their dishwashers.
The Kindle Fire (internal code name: Otter) is designed to ensure that even more of those purchases go to Amazon. The company has built a tablet-optimized shopping application, with simplified and streamlined pages but none of the clutter of the main website. The app is pre-installed and sits at the bottom of the Fire’s main screen (users can get rid of it if they want). The device also comes with the enticement of a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime, the company’s $79-a-year two-day delivery program that tends to convert members into Amazon addicts who triple or even quadruple the amount they spend on the site. Since March, Amazon has also administered its own app store for Android devices, culling Google’s more comprehensive selection and removing everything that’s offensive and unreliable. Kindle Fire owners will have access to apps from Pandora (P), Twitter, Facebook, and Netflix (NFLX). Other competitors such as Barnes & Noble (BKS) can submit their apps, but it will be much easier for Kindle Fire owners to find Amazon’s own content.