Will an Amazon Tablet Be Right for Business?

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It wasn't that long ago that Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos noted that the Kindle was best suited for book-reading, filling a niche distinct from that of the Apple iPad or other tablet computers. There are several factors as to why Amazon would want to get in on the tablet market, not the least of which is to take on Apple, which is already selling books and music through iTunes.

Now the world's largest book retailer is in the tablet arena, and what better way to take on Apple than to enter the market with an Android tablet. Amazon's tablet, which will likely arrive later this year, will reportedly ship in 7 and 10-inch versions, and it will run on Nvidia's upcoming quad-core processor.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon
Jeff Bezos of Amazon
Amazon will also likely leverage its lead in the e-books market over iTunes, while still hedging its bets--there is an Amazon app for the iPad, after all. By bringing out an Android device, Amazon may head off competition from Google--the developer of Android--which now has its own movie store and music player. In other words, there's a lot at stake, as the business model for media moves from products that Amazon sells and ships to products that consumers receive via download.

But at the other end of the spectrum is how tablets are being used for business. iPad CTO already predicted that businesses will hate an Amazon tablet. But isn't this too harsh of an observation--ignored, possibly, but hated?

Tablets remain good content-consumption devices, great for reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to music. But many analysts note that tablets are not as good for content creation as a laptop. The Kindle, which can display PDFs from a PC, already has been a good consumption device for business users. An Amazon tablet could be the next step.

As Forbes noted this week, last year Amazon acquired Toucho, a touchscreen technology startup to add touchscreen functionality to the Kindle. This could be easily leveraged into an Amazon tablet. A touchscreen remains crucial for a tablet, and Amazon isn't wasting time getting touchy-feely.

But Amazon also has its cloud drive service and app. To date, this again is mostly for content consumption, but Amazon and Google could easily streamline these services to enable easy access to Google Docs and other cloud-based applications through an Amazon tablet.

The Kindle also has been a good platform for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and entrepreneurs to publish e-books--and with the addition of the cloud, an Amazon tablet could enable workers to publish reports and share documents. The Kindle has limited business applications, whereas a tablet would remain a consumption device yet cross over to the business user. It isn't hard to see Amazon wanting to get into the tablet space, because the future is going to be about a lot more than reading books on a screen.

Peter Suciu writes about technology trends for small business, but has an appreciation for the Victorian Age when the telegraph was the information superhighway. After living in New York City for 18 years, he now resides in more rural Michigan.

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