Amazon may launch five or six new tablets, says Staples president
Amazon is poised to launch as many as five or six new tablet devices, including a 10-inch model, according to retail partner Staples.
Demos Parneros, president of U.S. Retail for Staples--which sells Amazon's Android-powered Kindle Fire tablet--told Reuters that Amazon will unveil "five or six" tablets in the months ahead, targeting a range of different screen sizes in an effort to expand its digital media retail efforts. Amazon spokespeople declined to comment.
The Reuters report comes just weeks after a Bloomberg report said that Amazon is building its own branded smartphone in partnership with Chinese manufacturer Foxconn. Reuters notes that recent job postings by Amazon's Lab126 R&D center in Silicon Valley further corroborate claims Amazon is working on a number of new mobile devices: Seven postings have sought hardware and software engineers with experience on mobile phones, with one posting for a hardware validation engineer instructing potential candidates they may be responsible for adhering to wireless carrier requirements. "Prior wireless or related field test experience that covers smartphones or smart devices a plus," adds another posting, this one for a field quality engineer.
"Amazon's Lab126 development center has grown a lot and has a pretty enormous staff now--much more staff than is needed to handle a few e-readers and the Kindle Fire tablet," said Robert Brunner, founder of hardware design firm Ammunition, who worked with Amazon on its first Kindle e-readers. "Knowing what I know about [founder and CEO] Jeff Bezos and Amazon, it's likely they are doing a smartphone." Brunner added that the Lab126 postings for candidates with wireless industry experience "clearly means they will put out a device that needs to function on carrier networks."
Unlike Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which relies on content from its iTunes digital media storefront and App Store to boost sales of hardware like the iPhone and iPad--and unlike Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), which looks to its open-source Android operating system to fuel revenues derived from its core advertising and search services--Amazon depends on its hardware line to drive sales of e-books, music, movies and related digital content offerings, keeping prices low to drive customer adoption.
The Amazon model is typified by the Kindle Fire, which is priced at $199, compared to $499 for Apple's cheapest iPad. The tablet, introduced in late 2011, offers consumers a single, portable point of access to a host of digital media initiatives including the Kindle e-book catalog, Amazon Instant Video and Amazon MP3, with all content backed up in the cloud. The Kindle Fire also integrates with the Amazon Web Services platform.
Amazon also has emerged as a major player in the mobile application retail segment since launching its Amazon Appstore for Android in 2011. Developers generate substantially greater revenues per user in Amazon Appstore than in the rival Google Play storefront, according to recent data published by app store analytics firm Flurry. For every $1 generated by Apple's pacesetting App Store for iOS, Amazon Appstore yields an average of $0.89 per user, while Google Play earns developers just $0.23 per user, Flurry reports. Flurry credits Amazon Appstore's success to the company's digital retail expertise, while Google's strengths are its search tools and advertising technologies.
In late May, AdAge reported that Amazon is exploring the possibility of acquiring a mobile advertising network, further escalating its fight with Google and Apple. Amazon's mobile ad value proposition presumably would hinge on the wealth of consumer information and purchase history data at its fingertips. The company already leverages online shopping histories to power its own product recommendations; in addition, Amazon Appstore for Android storefront offers a series of automated marketing features extending its recommendation algorithms to mobile software merchandising. Those consumer insights also could buoy Amazon's attempts to compete in the smartphone space, enabling the company to suggest hardware, software and data pricing plans geared to each user's behaviors and preferences.
There are many unanswered questions about Amazon's smartphone and tablet vision. It is also unclear how the company will provision wireless services--in the case of the original Kindle, Amazon purchased wholesale service from Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), which it bundled into the cost of the e-reader and e-book purchases. At the same time, should Amazon choose to eschew Android or another established mobile operating system, it would lose direct access to many key Google services, including Google Maps. Amazon reportedly acquired 3D mapping startup UpNext several weeks ago, and could leverage the startup's technology to build out its own mapping platform.
- Read this Reuters article
Report: Amazon building smartphone to fuel digital content sales
Report: Amazon acquires 3D mobile mapping firm UpNext
Amazon bringing Special Offers ads to Kindle Fire welcome screen
ComScore: Amazon's Kindle Fire grabs 55% Android tablet share
Amazon dumps $20 pricing limit on Android in-app purchases
Amazon Appstore for Android launches in-app purchases
Report: Amazon testing in-app purchases on Kindle Fire