Amazon is a pony with many, many tricks. They're an online retailer, a cloud storage service, a media service and the manufacturer of a fine brand of e-reader. And now, if all these rumors are true, the company will soon have a line of tablets. Both a dual-core and a quad-core slate are expected to launch before the end of 2011.
Which brings us to the critical question: Why would you want an Amazon Android tablet?
Not that the company hasn't proven themselves capable of making a desirable device. The Kindle's sales speak for themselves (or would if Amazon released the numbers). But we've seen several Android tablets launch already with very respectable names behind them. And, guess what? None of them are selling for crap.
When the iPad first launch, the tech industry was seized with a sort of hubris that only comes along once in a long while. Players from across the industry were convinced that all one needed to succeed was to launch a tablet with good design and solid hardware. If you could put those two things together, the dynamo that is Android and the mad hype over tablets would do the rest.
Because Amazon Offers a Comprehensive Content Solution: That's the main reason to be excited about these tablets. Cloud Music. Streaming movies and television. E-Books out the butt. An app store that might someday be awesome. Amazon has a lot more going for it on the content end than any mobile phone maker. They're the only company that can offer a content 'package' that even approaches what Apple has built with iTunes.
People love using the iPad to consume media. So we assume they'll want to do the same with any good Android tablet that launches. If that logic holds fast, Amazon is in a strong position right off the bat.
A Big, Hairy BUT: The Xoom didn't fail because it lacked content. No Flash support and a lacking tablet app store played a part in its downfall, certainly. But the main issue most reviewers seemed to have is that it was buggy as hell. Honeycomb is still really buggy. And I've no doubt Amazon will try to slap their own UI over Android and probably multiply the glitches tenfold.
The Advantage of Time: By the time the holiday season rolls around, Android 3.0 may finally be bug-free and ready to wow the general populace. Amazon will have seen another couple of big-name tablets crash-and-burn by then. If they're at all intelligent, the retail giant will learn from the failures of their predecessors.
The Disadvantage of Time: There will be so freaking many tablets this holiday season. I played with an estimated 400,000 different Android slates at CES and MWC. Most of them have been delayed, but we can expect the bulk to launch in time for Christmas shopping. Amazon's tablets will launch in a market that is hilariously crowded. And, if Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1" does succeed, they'll be working to establish themselves in a market that already has two clear leaders.
But...But...QUAD CORE! Unfortunately, the buying public has already shown their ambivalence to raw horsepower. We don't care how impressive the spec sheet you read off is. We want a device that gives us a lot of options and works well enough that we forget it's a computer. Apple has delivered that. Until Amazon can, all the cores in the world won't help them sell their tablet.