With the announcement that the Kindle Fire has grabbed 54.4% of the Android Tablet market, it’s clear to see that Amazon’s Trojan Horse strategy paid off. As I wrote back in December, the Fire is Amazon’s way of making all of their offerings “real.” Movies, books, and games were Amazon’s core competency back when all of that stuff was on disks and on paper and that core competency is repurposed now for the Information Age.
That’s what all of the other Android tablet makers missed: people don’t want general-purpose devices anymore or at least general-purpose devices in tablet form. There is little need to be “productive” on a tablet when consumption is why most people buy them. Sure someone out there is SSHing into their servers and editing documents in Pages, but the average user plops down on the couch with the iPad and calls up some IMDB or some NSFW Reddit, not a text editor.
The laptop is the last general-purpose mobile device left out there and unless you’re a full bore Open Source user, your laptop is barely your own to begin with. With more and more data migrating to the cloud, the vision of ChromeOS’ refusal to acknowledge local storage may soon be ubiquitous.
What Amazon knew is that nobody cares about tablets. They care about the things they represent. The iPad represents iTunes and its attendant media sources. The Kindle represents books. The GalTab? The Transformer? What do those represent? Angry Birds?
There are plenty who will disagree, citing all of the exciting things they’re doing with their tablets. But what is the tablet you’re going to give for someone’s birthday or a holiday? It’s not the latest from Asus unless that’s definitely on your list. Instead, the use case will trump speeds and feeds and the price will win the day: “______ likes to read, so I’ll get her this Kindle Fire. We can maybe watch a movie on it.”
Once Amazon has all that hardware in the wild, then the real change happens. The Fire gets an upgrade – maybe adds some sharing features, maybe a better screen – and all of a sudden we have a two horse race where once there was a herd. Considering no other Android tablet can touch Amazon’s market share, it won’t be long before Google will be pointing to the Kindle as their Android success story.