Have The Tablet Wars Begun Or Is It Just The End Of The eReader Era?

Amazon Kindle TabletsWell, well, it seems our friends at Amazon are preparing to get into the tablet game after all. MG Siegler over at Techcrunch has seen and played with a prototype and has written up his impressions. What I find most interesting in all of this is the branding and control over the user experience that seems almost Apple-like.

So have the tablet wars begun or are we just watching the end of the dedicated eReader era?

Time will tell but if anyone can break into Apple’s iPad market, it’s Amazon. But they have chosen to not directly compete with the iPad in the initial release but take on eReader rival Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color. Like B&N, they are forking Android and writing a unique user interface on top of the Android kernel (reported to be Eclair but it would not be surprising if it turned out to be Froyo). But unlike Barnes & Noble, Amazon has a lot more content to sell than books and magazines which does not bode well for the second generation Nook Color unless it comes out for less than $200. The 7-inch Amazon Kindle will completely grab the Nook Color customer with the value proposition of books, magazines, movies, TV shows, music, and the web for half the price of an entry level iPad 2. It will be the must-have holiday gift if they get it out in time and have produced enough to meet the strong demand. And many customers will see this as a viable alternative to an iPad unlike every other Android, QNX or WebOS tablet. That’s because Amazon seems to have put together an end-to-end customer experience like Apple pioneered with the iPad 18 months ago.

The branding also seems brilliant here using the well-known Kindle brand. That brand started out meaning eReader hardware but over the past year or so has also included software on the iPhone, iPad, Android, WebOS and other mobile platforms. So now Kindle means content and not just eReader or eBooks to consumers. Placed on a 7-inch tablet along with the Amazon Instant Video and mp3 store, the Kindle brand could become as powerful as the iPad.

But it’s early days and I have yet to see and use this device. I certainly will pick one up when released and post a review here as I think Amazon is onto something really interesting here.

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