Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Gavin O'Malley, September 28, 2011, 12:19 PM
Tablet Wars Begin: Amazon v. AppleBloomberg

Now that Amazon has entered its horse into the tablet race, what are watchers saying about the product's prospects, and its likely impact on the sector? Well, it's cheap! "The Kindle Fire will ... sell for $199, compared with $499 for Apple's cheapest iPad," Bloomberg Businessweek reports, adding: "Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is betting he can leverage Amazon's dominance in e-commerce to pose a real challenge to Apple's iPad."

"With its low price--most tablets retail for around $500--and the established Kindle brand, analysts believe Amazon's product could represent the first legitimate competitor in an area where many other high-end Android tablets have missed the mark," CNet reports.

That said, "The Android-based tablet has an attractive price, but to get there, it cut so many corners it probably won't make much of a dent in Apple's market lead," according to GigaOm.

Referring to the iPad, "This is not a tablet in that category," ReadWriteWeb determines. "It does include Amazon's Appstore, and it can be used for email and Web browsing, but this is not a personal computer first and foremost -- it's a media device."

For his part, Amazon's Bezos tells BusinessWeek: "We don't think of the Kindle Fire as a tablet. We think of it as a service." Translation: "Amazon hopes that selling digital content to Fire owners can help recoup costs of selling the device at a loss, a strategy Amazon has traditionally employed," Business Insider writes.

Moreover, according to ZDNet: "At just $199, Amazon's 7-inch 'Kindle Fire' may prove Steve Jobs wrong that people don't want a 'tweener' tablet."

"So yes, this serious competition for the iPad," according to All Things D. "No way around that."

Read the whole story...
  • Gavin O'Malley, September 28, 2011, 12:19 PM
  • Long feared by programmers -- and dreamed of by consumers -- cable unbundling is finally coming, reports Reuters. "U.S. cable operators are privately working on a plan to force programmers to unbundle their networks and allow customers to subscribe to channels on an individual basis," the news service writes. "The plan represents a complete reversal from cable operators' long-held opposition to what is known as 'a la carte' programming."

    What sparked the shift? Executives now seem to believe that unbundling is a necessary response to shifting market forces like higher carriage costs, a weak economy, and, of course, the Web's increasing prominence.

    Representative of the industry's woes, Comcast and Time Warner Cable -- the two largest operators -- collectively lost 1.2 million video customers over the past year (as of June, according to Reuters). An "a la carte" menu of programming would give consumers who are not sports fans, say, the freedom to drop high cost sports channels, such as ESPN from basic packages. Read the whole story...
  • Dubbed Rewards, Google is about to introduce a new product designed to help merchants increase customer loyalty by giving said customers a good reason to keep coming back. "Up until now, Groupon has built a billion-dollar business by getting local merchants to offer great one-time deals to consumers," TechCrunch writes, adding: "Those daily deals are all about attracting new customers." Rewards, however, is all about bringing back -- and nurturing relationships with -- existing customers.

    "With a Groupon Reward, a business that offers a regular Groupon deal will be able to follow up with another reward that gets unlocked after the customer spends a certain amount of money," TechCrunch reports. Customer will only need to pay with the same credit card, which is already on file with Groupon, to participate in the new program. Notes TechCrunch: "One of the biggest advantages of the product for Groupon is that it finally closes the redemption loop in local commerce." Read the whole story...
  • Sorry to all you "social" supporters, but Facebook is positioning itself primarily as a mobile company. That was the word from Erick Tseng, head of mobile products at the company, during the Mobilize conference this week. "We're going to become a mobile company," Tseng said, as reported by CNet.

    According to Tseng, Facebook already has more than 350 million mobile users -- out of a reported 800 million -- while he expects the proportion to swing to more than 50% within the next year. Positioned slightly differently, "Tseng confirmed the company position that Facebook is a 'platform company,' not a social network per se, when discussing the possibility of a Facebook phone," CNet reports.

    "We believe every phone should be social," Tseng said, while reminding the audience that Facebook is working with partners like HTC and Sony Ericsson to "bake the platform into their apps layer." Tseng added, as CNet reports, it's just "the beginning of what we think of when we see the mobile/social platform. It's kind of a version one." Read the whole story...
  • Larry Page, Google's recently reappointed CEO, has identified and set his sights on what he sees as the company's greatest threat: Google. "There are basically no companies that have good slow decisions," Page said in a public appearance at Google's Zeitgeist conference this week, as reported by The New York Times' Bits blog. "There are only companies that have good fast decisions. As companies get bigger, they slow down decision making, and that's a big problem."

    As Bits notes, slow decisions are a problem that Page has tried to address since he took over as chief executive from Eric Schmidt in April. "He's in there doing that, forcing the choice and forcing the resolution," Schmidt, now Google's chairman, said at the conference, according to Bits.

    To that end, Page is also working on integrating all of Google's products and improving their user interfaces, said Schmidt adding (according to Bits): Google "should stand for a beauty, technological purity of innovation and things that are important to people." Read the whole story...