With the expected introduction today of Amazon's low-priced color tablet, rumored to be named "Amazon Fire," there will be a lot of focus on the hardware, price points, apps, and the inevitable Apple contest. I will wait to see and touch for myself, but my initial impression of the leaked specs suggests this 7-inch model is more of a Nook competitor than it is an iPad challenger. Having played with half-sized Android tablets in the past, I always felt that the convenience and portability were there, but the absence of apps and the lack of immersiveness in the smaller form factor made it a pale comparison to Apple's category defining device.
A larger Amazon device is coming, according to reports, so perhaps the real battle comes a bit later when the Android tablet app ecosystem has a but more time to grow along with the Fire's size. But until then, Amazon does come into the fray with a fast-evolving streaming media service via customer's Prime subscription. As reported yesterday, the company just made a deal with Fox to bring thousands of episodes into the mix like "Arrested Development" and "24" as well as sentimental favorite for baby boomers "The Wonder Years," which has not been available in digital channels before. CEO Jeff Bezos claims that the deal brings the Amazon Prime library to 11,000 movies and episodes.
By bundling the new tablet with the Prime membership (rumor suggests), Amazon will cagily leverage one of its key advantages over Netflix. But another is its pay per rental structure. One thing that Netflix has not had in its streaming service is a way to rent the latest releases. Netflix has had four times the number of legacy media titles in its streaming library than Amazon, but the newest releases relied entirely on DVD mailings. Now that the disk and streaming businesses are separate, Netflix might be able to generate a digital rental model. But for now Amazon actually provides both Netflix and Apple models in one.
In terms of overall quality, the model for Amazon Prime's video offerings is more attractive than the reality of its library. When your site marketing leads with Star Trek episodes (they have all of them), then you know that the infusion of Fox inventory is desperately needed. In fact, whatever the quality of Amazon's first stab at a tablet device, they have relationships with users, a marketing engine, and powers of personalization that are going to be too formidable to ignore.Gee do you think they will let the Android Netflix app on my Amazon Fire?