updated 02:35 pm EDT, Thu September 29, 2011
Amazon CEO says ecosystem key to tablets, more
Most of those who have failed at tablets and other home electronics were too focused on the hardware alone, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in an interview following the launch of the Kindle Fire tablet. He explained to TechCrunch that Amazon would do well with the Kindle Fire because it treated the Android slate as an "end-to-end service," not just an isolated design. It was the software and the content that defined a tablet, and those who didn't create a complete effect have struggled.
"In the modern era of consumer electronics devices, if you are just building a device you are unlikely to succeed," Bezos said. "Today it is about the software, the software on the device and the software in the cloud. It is a seamless service -- this is Kindle greeting you by name when you pull it out of the box. Some of the companies building tablets didn't build services, they just built tablets."
Amazon has been frank in describing the Kindle Fire as a portal to all of its content. Along with the Kindle bookstore, they can stream Instant Video or music from the Cloud Player. Even its normally business-only EC2 cloud services play a role by pre-fetching and optimizing web content in the Silk web browser to speed up load times.
Apple is so far the only other major tablet maker to have a fully integrated services setup and is expanding it with iOS 5. Every iPad has access to the App Store, iTunes music and videos, and the iBookstore. The iOS 5 update will add iCloud for syncing personal info and media across devices.
Android by its nature has some cloud services but has usually been lacking in content. Google only just added its own video rental store in mid-year and doesn't have its own music store. Companies like HTC and Samsung have filled in the gaps with services like Watch and Media Hub, but these are either inconsistently available or don't cover as wide a spectrum of content.
Bezos wouldn't say whether he thought the Kindle Fire would outperform regular Kindles, but he maintained that the Android tablet was in line with a previously promised focus on reading. Both would be popular, and there were always situations where an E Ink reader would be better, such as "by the pool" on a bright, sunny day. People did more than read books, however, and the Kindle Fire wouldn't just fill this gap but lead some to prefer one device or the other.
"From my own experience, I think people will tend to gravitate towards one or the other -- time will tell," he said.