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As I and others have argued, there is no tablet market — there's an Apple iPad market. That said, the Amazon Kindle Fire has come on strong, suggesting that there may be room for an iPad competitor at lower price points (the Kindle Fire sells for $199). We know that consumers will go ga-ga over a cheap tablet that as designed to compete with the iPad. This is why the HP Touchpad found life at $99 and why the BlackBerry PlayBook may gain users if it goes on sale for around the same price. But these were tablets that were envisioned as $500 iPad killers. Who wouldn't want one at a monster discount?
Then there's Barnes & Noble's Nook. There are several models, but the Kindle Fire/iPad competitor (in as much as the iPad can really have a competitor) is the Nook Tablet, priced at $250. Here's where things get interesting. B&N is talking about spinning the Nook off as it's own company. And as DealBook reports, Nook Inc. could be worth almost $1 billion:
The tablet market is looking like a two-horse race at this juncture. It's Apple's iPad with a huge, market-defining lead, and Amazon's Kindle Fire catching up. The only distinct third option, outside the ill-defined Android context, is Research in Motion with its BlackBerry PlayBook. And that tablet hasn't even come close to meeting expectations. This is from the LA Times:
[PlayBook] numbers are small compared with the sales of competing tablets. RIM said in its statement that it sold about 150,000 PlayBook tablets to retailers in the quarter ended Nov. 26 "and sell-through to end customers, based on RIM's internal data, was higher than this amount."
How does that compare with iPad and Kindle sales?
Not well. Apple may sell 60 million iPads by the end of 2011. Meanwhile, Amazon may have already sold 2 million Kindle Fires, and may soon sell 2 million more.
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The new Amazon tablet called the Kindle Fire is displayed on September 28, 2011 in New York City.
Back in the good old days — you know, 2009 or 2010 — there was the Apple iPad and everything else. When it came to tablets, there wasn't really a true tablet market; there was an iPad market, as my favorite tech writer, Zach Epstein of BGR.com, has pointed out. But now there's another tablet in town. Here is Forbes' Tim Worstall on how the Amazon Kindle Fire will be different from the Apple iPad, business-model-wise:
Apple makes great kit, no doubt about that, but it charges great kit prices for it too. Then it makes a further margin on selling content (music, videos, movies, books) to go onto that kit. Nothing wrong with it but it is a model that might be vulnerable. Vulnerable to someone using the Gillette tactic (“give away” the razors in order to sell more razor blades) as Amazon is. Price the Kindle Fire at just about break even point and hope to make the profits by having a larger installed base to sell the content onto.
Meet the $199 Amazon Kindle Fire: “What we are doing is offering premium products at non-premium prices,” [Amazon CEO Jeff] Bezos says. Other tablet contenders “have not been competitive on price” and “have just sold a piece of hardware. We don’t think of the Kindle Fire as a tablet. We think of it as a service.” (Bloomberg)
Megan McArdle on the investment structure of Solyndra: "…I am distinctly prejudiced against plowing half a billion dollars worth of government funds into a company to see whether they can finally get their manufacturing process to work." (The Atlantic)
Fox goes to court to prevent the Dodgers from selling TV rights: "The suit asks that the court reject any such sale except in accordance with the current contract, under which Fox retains exclusive negotiating rights through November 2012 as well as the right to match any other offer." (LAT)