Amazon tablet rivals HP TouchPad hype amid amped up anti-iPad hysteria
August 30, 2011 by Beatweek
One story proclaims that the HP TouchPad has fought back from the dead. The other revels in how the Amazon tablet is shaking up the market. One story is as inaccurate as the other. The TouchPad, which saw near-zero interest from the public in its seven weeks on the market, only saw a blip when its price was slashed to a far-below-cost eighty percent off in order to blow out remaining inventory as HP washed its hands of the failed product. Amazon, whose eReader Kindle products are popular, doesn’t have a tablet on the market or any publicly announced plans to launch one. And yet both products are being highlighted as if they’ve already overtaken Apple’s iPad.
In yet another round of tech headlines so clearly penned by Apple-hating geeks who will do and say and write anything in the hopes of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy in which geek-oriented products rise up knock Apple’s consumer-leaning products like the iPad off the shelves, this week demonstrated that you can’t believe what you read. The HP TouchPad sees continued geek adoration because it runs (or ran, until it was discontinued) the fabled webOS operating system which originally powered the (also discontinued) Palm Pre. While the geeks worshipped webOS, the public rejected it as being too geeky and that was that. Except that HP’s clever way of avoiding having to place remaining TouchPad inventory in a landfill has given geek headline writers and opportunity to spin the embarrassing demise of the TouchPad into some fantasy in which the product is something other than a discontinued failure. But that’s nothing compared to the geek-penned headlines propping up Amazon’s non-existent tablet…
Today one headline pegged the Amazon tablet (which has to be referred to as “Amazon tablet” because there’s no product name because there’s no product) as already having claimed five million sales this year. That’s remarkable for a product which doesn’t exist let alone being on sale. Could Amazon launch a tablet this year? Sure. Could it rack up five million sales over the holiday season? Perhaps. If nothing else, the TouchPad has shown one way in which tablet makers can rack up higher sales numbers: sell the device at a huge loss…
Actually, Amazon is one of the few companies which could get away with selling a tablet at a minor loss, as its Kindle book sales allow it to not worry too much about what its margins are on Kindle hardware, for instance. Amazon could attempt to leverage that into a “Kindle tablet” (why not use the brand name that got them this far?) which would be an eReader plus some basic tablet functionality. But the TouchPad only sold well because it was a ten inch color tablet which sold for $99. A quick perusal of Amazon’s hardware lineup shows that $99 gets you a Kindle which can’t hold a candle hardware-wise to the TouchPad. In other words, Amazon can’t come close to offering a full featured ten inch tablet at $99 or likely even twice that. Three times that much, perhaps.
But before HP decided to fire-sale the TouchPad for $99, it had tried multiple other discount prices which failed to garner any sales interest. One of those was $299. As it turned out, at that price, most of the public would rather pay $499 to get an iPad, or not own a tablet at all. So even if Amazon does manage to serve up a tablet for $299, there’s no evidence to believe that it would sell well outside of Amazon’s most enthusiastic customers. And last we checked, the half-baked experiment known as AmazonMP3 is producing sales which are about a tenth that of Apple’s iTunes. So if Amazon really does plan to throw a tablet out there, it could perhaps expect to sell about a tenth as well as the iPad this holiday season. That’s a good start for a company which currently has no tablet presence at all, and it would mop the floor with the results the HP TouchPad saw before its demise. But the idea that an Amazon tablet would be able to in any way rival the iPad in sales is based on little more than thin air and the overwhelming desire of geek headline writers to see any non-Apple tablet overtake the iPad. Here’s more on the death of the HP TouchPad.