The aPad – Amazon’s imminent android tablet and iPad killer

Look, it’s basically obvious – Amazon’s new Android Appstore is the precursor to Amazon launching a full-fledged Android tablet of its own. And, true to the character of the kindle, it’s going to be cheaper than other tablets, won’t be packed with features like gyroscopes and cameras, and will probably use a Mirasol color display that is just as readable outdoors as e-Ink and can support video.

This inevitable Amazon tablet, which I am dubbing the “aPad”, will allow complete vertical content management just like Apple does with iTunes, since Amazon also sells movies, music and now apps – but Amazon has a bigger customer base, and also has that one-click patent everyone loved to hate. Also, the appstore even lets you test-drive apps from right in the web browser.

No wonder Apple is scared sh#$&less and is suing Amazon over the name and trying to boot Kindle from iOS.

I cannot wait.

UPDATE: On facebook, a dear friend (and Apple zealot, in a good way πŸ™‚ comments:

…just like the android phones killed the iPhone! …wait..

Now, let me assert and concede that the iPhone is probably the finest phone in existence. And frankly I don’t think that there will ever be a iPhone killer. It should be noted however that the definition of “killer” is rather loose – Android is indeed eating the iPhone’s lunch with respect to market share, for example. But user experience? I’ve never used Android, so I can’t comment, but we are an iPod Touch 4, iPhone 4, and iPad 1 family. I personally use a blackberry because I am a keyboard guy, and the bberry approaches Thinkpad transcendence in that regard. At any rate, I know and use iOS and no one is going to beat iPhone on that field, not for a long time.

But a tablet is a different matter. iPad certainly opened the door, but the iPad is still a flawed device in a fundamental way: it’s not even remotely “post-PC” as Apple pretends it to be. Without a PC the iPad is unusable. Without iTunes the iPad is closed. Only a technology company with equal vertical integration of a content ecosystem, like Amazon, can match the iPad. Here’s your basic task: decide you want to watch a certain movie, get it on your tablet, and watch it on the train during your commute. How can you do that on Android right now? Only Amazon and Apple can make that happen.

But where Amazon has the advantage is that it sells un-DRMed MP3s for music, permits video downloads as separate files, and (this is where the Andoid advantage comes in, which is irrelevant on a phone platform) supports industry standards for content. So you have the best of all worlds.

Don’t get me wrong – the iPad won’t die after being killed. But for the average family, the aPad will simply be a better value – half the cost, half the weight, and none of the hassles. For surfing the web, parity; for watching TV and video, advantage.

I think Apple’s true genius device is the iPod Touch. No one has anything like it. and the iPhone is king. But the iPad is a niche product, like netbooks were – and Apple has left a huge opening for Amazon to exploit by making it such a closed ecosystem.

11 thoughts on “The aPad – Amazon’s imminent android tablet and iPad killer”

  1. Yawn.

    Just like Android was the iPhone killer, right? And how once it was on Xoom it was an iPad killer, right?

    Amazon isn’t going to do a real tablet. They’re just going to add apps to a souped up Kindle. And do it poorly. With the same ugly chicklet keyboard at the bottom.

  2. I think (and hope) there’s room in the market for competition. When Apple has challengers, they give me better products. I’m a big fan of Amazon and of Apple, so I’ll look at what each offers and decide. But I’m not scratching my order for the iPad 2. I’m thrilled that they built the camera into it (create and edit video on a single device, video chat, expensive mirror (kidding)). Since my son regularly watches video on his iPad now without ever buying a thing from iTunes (free apps just don’t count in my book. I’ll take the comparative ease and reliability given by centralized QC and distribution over being able to download apps from anywhere). Netflix works great, YouTube, other video outlets…all available. Apple also sells DRM-free music (my entire iTunes library is DRM-free. AAC is a less-lossy format than MP3, so I’m good with all of that). I’m hoping that the video world will wake up and smell the money as the music world has started to and give up the DRM nonsense. But that’s not an Apple v. Amazon thing, that’s just market foolishness. If Amazon finds a nifty feature, Apple will surely give us an equivalent or better. Competition is good. Go aPad…so my iPad 6 will be even more awesome! πŸ™‚

  3. 1) Apple store sells un-DRMed music now. That battle has been conceded and is irrelevant.

    2) The only industry standard not supported (and isn’t really a standard anyways) on iOS is Flash. It’s a battery killer and crasher/smasher of OSes, and Apple is wise to keep it away. Most people would rather let iTunes handle converting any video they don’t get from a walled garden, and even if they don’t, there are a pile of third party video players that will handle mpg/avi/mov/whatever with on the fly conversion.

    3) “half the cost, half the weight, and none of the hassles” — one word: Xoom.

  4. Apple sells unDRMed music? So if I buy the latest Owl City album, I can burn the track to as many CDs as I want, or email it to anyone and say hey listen to this?

    What i meant by industry standards was not Flash (which isn’t a standard, really, not like HTML5) but rather the video codecs and containers out there, most of which just work on Android (especially since there’s no GPL conflict with VLC, unlike iOS). You can download video from teh web or a torrent and get it on your Android tablet pretty easily. In contrast, you cant even get video from your camera SD card to your iPad. (or maybe you can, if you are willing to go get a transcoder and fool iTunes into thinking it came from teh walled garden. Educate me, please, I have a lot of video I’d like to watch on our iPad right now).

    Amazon’s advantage is that in addition to the above, you can *also* sync content on demand the way youd do with iTunes to iPad. So its best of both worlds.

    Xoom lacks the Amazon vertical content integration that I am talking about so the advantages dont apply and obviously Xoom or the Galaxy arent going to erode iPad’s mindshare.

    in a nutshell: iPad has vertical content. Android has freedom. Amazon will have both.

  5. > Apple sells unDRMed music? So if I buy the latest Owl City album, I can burn the
    > track to as many CDs as I want, or email it to anyone and say hey listen to this?


  6. Select the files in your OS

    Drag the files into the library window of iTunes

    Locate the videos under “movies” in iTunes.

    Select the videos and use Advanced->”Create iPad or Apple TV Version” or “Create iPhone or iPod Version” from the menu.

    Sync to your device.

    As for un-DRMed, yes, they sell 256k unrestricted ACC files. iTunes will gladly convert them to MP3 if you prefer.

    It’s really frustrating to see arguments like this, where people complain about problems with Apple tech that were resolved years ago. It feels like it’s 1998 again.

  7. (FWIW, the ACC files apparently have the purchaser’s name embedded in them, so putting them out on a p2p network is probably a bad idea, but emailing them to some friends isn’t.)

  8. I’ll try the video thing again. Couldn’t get it to work last time I tried, IIRC i basically had the same steps, but maybe i did it wrongly. Which by itself is not exactly a ringing endorsement for “my grandma can do it” usability πŸ™‚

    If my name is embedded in eth files, theres no way im emailing them to anyone. What if THEY put the file out on P2P ?

  9. iTunes DRM will never completely go away, simply because Apple doesn’t offer upgrades for all of the music people originally bought in DRM’d versions. I have over 450 songs that remain encumbered with iTunes DRM, either because they no longer sell it, or the version they currently sell somehow ended up with a different ID in their database, so it doesn’t count as an upgrade. Most of mine are jazz, so I presume there was some licensing kerfluffle where the labels withdrew the albums for a while, then brought them back with new IDs.

    I think the real question about the basically-inevitable Amazon tablet is what it will be called. The market is currently saturated with stupid names, many of them derived from Apple’s own stupid name. Kindle, despite its uncomfortable Fahrenheit 451 association, is a good name; I expect something similarly unique for their tablet, with incendiary connotations.


  10. So, not DRM free after all. Atleast not until they let you redownload freed versions from your library.

    As for naming, I assume they will keep the Kindle branding. Maybe evenposition the new version as the next Kindle DX, which is a product sadly neglected in the lineup. Still too expensive, and has worse PDF support than the smaller brother – which is a shame because i really wanted a DX for reading academic papers but didnt want to sacrifice PDF annotation, etc.

    If they roll out a colorized Kindle with Mirasol tech and fix PDF annotations, then it would be worth the more than double price of teh baseline Kindle. And why add a new brand when Kindle is already such a successful one?

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