Will Aussies wait in faith for an Amazon tablet?

Australians are used to lengthy waiting times for the latest devices, but by the time the rumoured Amazon arrives on our shores the market could be well and truly saturated. Will it be worth the wait?

A storm of news reports have come out of the US over the past week predicting Amazon – the book seller, not Amazon Web Services – will jump into the white hot tablet market with its own Android-based device, presumably to help bolster its e-book revenues.

The big question for Aussies is how long will we have to wait until any such Amazon tablet arrives: six months? One year?

The first Kindle made its way to Australia back in October 2009, which was a whole two years after the first Kindle launched in the US.

But when it did arrive it was well received by e-book hungry consumers. Since then, Amazon’s e-book software has been ported to other mobile platforms, including Android, but the main barrier to entry for Amazon will be other devices.

I asked the local PR company handling a part of Amazon’s business to offer some indication of when we might see an Amazon tablet here and the response was to ask the Singapore office. I’ll keep you posted.

It will be interesting to see if an Amazon tablet is more targeted to e-reading than the competition. Sure you can install e-book software on an existing tablet, but the dedicated e-readers still have the design advantage over the general-purpose tablets. Then again, Amazon has diversified its content portfolio significantly since the first Kindle so it may be aiming for a more general-purpose experience.

Almost every Android device I owner I speak to complains about the lack of content available compared with Apple’s ecosystem. So an Amazon tablet with integrated e-book, music and other content like videos could be an instant crowd pleaser and challenge the more established players. Again, this assumes all the other Android tablet makers won’t have something similar by the time an Amazon device is available.

Then there is the question of applications. Will Amazon settle for Google’s Android Market and data services or integrate its own offerings?

Whatever the final product looks like, there’s no doubt an Amazon tablet has the potential to do well here in Australia. When the Kindle was first launched many people imported the device in order to curl up with a book, without the bulk. And to this day, despite the many options, Kindles can be seen displaying e-books for commuters everywhere.

Some reports are speculating Amazon will release a number of tablets and the price-points will be lower than the market leading iPad. If this is the case then the Australian buying public will have little patience for an extended delay before it is available here, or an “international”, non-US version goes on sale.

With so many smartphones and tablets being released nowadays, the general “time to get to Australia” delay is improving, but the same can’t be said of Amazon which only launches a device every so often. We’ll just have to wait and see.

If there was a two-year delay between the US launch and a localised Amazon tablet, one can only imagine the number of low-cost Android tablets available in late 2013.

It all makes for an interesting rumour about a company that has continuously diversified and reinvented itself from a consumer product seller to enterprise IT service provider. An Android tablet and e-reader will certainly continue that path of innovation.

Follow Rodney Gedda on Twitter: @rodneygedda

Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter: @Techworld_AU


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