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BLOG: Here comes Amazon's 'Kindle for movies'

Mike Elgan | May 21, 2011
I predict that Amazon will ship a video tablet that will do for movies what the Kindle did for books

That means one or both of these tablets might offer high-quality viewing in all conditions, from inside a dark bedroom to outside on a sunny day.

Amazon will probably make sure the price of the tablet itself is low -- say, $249 or so for Coyote -- and a Hollywood tablet that's as inexpensive or even cheaper than the iPad -- $499 or less.

I'll speculate even further: Movie tablet customers could be offered Amazon's existing Prime Instant Video service, which gives users unlimited movie downloads for $79 per year.

If these movies are Blu-ray quality, and if Amazon improves its selection of TV shows, forget it -- $79 is a steal.

But wait! There's (possibly) more! Kindle killed the competition in part because Amazon made the e-reader wireless like an appliance should be wireless -- the connectivity was "just there." No billing. No hassles. I can see Amazon throwing in 3G connectivity for the price of the movie rental service.

Also, it's likely that Amazon's Kindle-for-movies tablet will have an HDMI port so you can plug it into your big-screen, high-def TV -- and cancel your cable subscription.

Many consumers pay for both cable and Netflix. Amazon could replace both and improve the movie-watching experience.

Why I think Amazon can do this

I have covered technology for 20 years and have never seen product dominance like the Apple iPad's. More than 13 months after Apple shipped the first iPad, not a single viable competitor has emerged.

Sure, there are lots of tablets on the market. But the devices from rivals Google, Hewlett-Packard and Research In Motion feel like PCs rather than appliances. PCs have to be managed. It's hard to find things on them. They offer a hundred ways to do everything.

Appliances, on the other hand, are maintenance-free. Content and apps just appear with a click. Novice users never feel lost or confused.

The only other major tablet-size product on the market that feels like an appliance is Amazon's Kindle e-book reader.

Amazon surprised everyone, including me, with its ability to design, build and sell a true content appliance -- then market it with focus. It's been offered front and center on the home page every day since its launch.

I also think it's unlikely that a company like Amazon, which has only one line of tightly focused hardware appliances, would choose to jump into the low-margin generic Android tablet market for no reason. Like the Kindle, an Android tablet would be a means to an end, and that end would be the end of Netflix's dominance in movie downloads.


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