With the release of it’s Kindle Fire, Amazon has fired the first shot in what looks to be a war for dominance in the expanding tablet market. While most manufacturers of android tablets advertise hardware specifications, Amazon has taken the opposite route. The Fire’s selling points are all about ease of use, and software-which conveniently directs the user to Amazon books, movies, music, and app stores. The operating system, Android 2.3, has all the Google apps stripped out. No Android Market, Gmail, maps, or any other apps normally seen on android tablets are present. Even the browser has been replaced by Amazon’s own Silk browser. It is a possibility that Amazon may be able to get some tablet makers to switch from Google Android to “Amazon” android, perhaps offering a percentage of online sales generated from such devices. This poses a problem for Google, which needs to expand it’s advertising revenue through android phones and tablets. While it has a strong presence in the phone market, it is with tablets that most analysts see future growth for online purchases. With 250,000 preorders in five days, the Kindle Fire already is way ahead of any other android tablet in initial sales. There are only so many consumers out there, and the Fire looks to be grabbing a large percentage of them.
So what is Google to do? It would seem the obvious decision is to release it’s own tablet, designed to compete with the Fire. With the acquisition of Motorola Mobility, Google has a company experienced in tablet manufacturing, even though the Xoom didn’t exactly sell as well as expected. As Amazon is subsidizing the Fire, supposedly around $10 per unit, Google could easily do the same. This would lead to the two companies fighting for the top spot in the android tablet market. For all the other android tablet makers, this would be bad news. If both companies are selling subsidized tablets, there is no way for any other manufacturer to compete pricewise. While this would be a good thing for buyers, it could force many companies to get out of the tablet market. One thing is sure, Google will have to respond to the Kindle Fire. How it does so, will definitely be worth watching.