Will Amazon Abandon The iPad?

As expected, Amazon went ahead and launched their tablet entrant earlier this week. And while the Kindle Fire ($199) isn’t some mythical dual-screen affair, the 7″ Android-based slate is a unified portal into Amazon’s online content services — including video streaming, MP3 playback, and of course e-books and digital periodicals. All which makes me wonder if Amazon is done supporting other mobile platforms. After all, we’ve never been offered Amazon Instant Video on a tablet or mobile phone. Combined with a similar lack of Amazon MP3 support and the new web-based Kindle Cloud reader, one might assume dedicated iOS apps are a thing of the past.

Several theorize that Amazon will likely lose money on each tablet sold. Yet the expectation is that they’ll ultimately recoup any subsidy as the Kindle Fire effectively markets the Amazon.com storefront to each and every owner (well, every owner who abstains from rooting the Fire). Based on that thought process, emphasizing Amazon’s primary business of reselling physical and digital goods, instead of limiting app development on competing mobile devices, I’d think Amazon would continue to extend their footprint – as they’ve done with Kindle e-reading apps on numerous platforms. The question is, would the Kindle software experience expand to encompass movies and music or would Amazon launch dedicated “players” for each discrete form of media?

26 thoughts on “Will Amazon Abandon The iPad?”

  1. Since the Ipad is broken with regards to flash video and $199 is a relatively low entry point and I’m already a fairly substantial consumer of Amazon digital media with an established library in the cloud I’ve got my Fire on order. Maybe it will be a flash in the pan but it should be fun for a while anyway. Then again maybe I didn’t learn my lesson with the Dash?

  2. “I’m hoping for continued app development.”

    If I were Jeff Bezos, (or anyone else dealing with Cupertino’s gear), I’d go with an HTML client instead.

    Would you want to pay Cupertino 30% of your revenue? And let them have approval over your app development at the same time?

    HTML is “good enough” for the iPad folks, given Cupertino’s psychosis.

  3. Chucky, I’m sure web page engagement would trail that of any app given how folks have been programmed at this point and software limitations. Also, Apple’s loosened those sales cut requirements. If Amazon allowed Prime members, like me, to stream video (for free) from an iPhone or iPad app without making a purchase there is no revenue share. Of course, individual VOD or MP3 purchases would be another story. Will be interesting to see how/if Amazon handles all of this. But I’m hoping for at least some app-based video streaming.

    Marc, not cut off but not expand. And as to why, to sell their own tablets or not share revenue with Apple as Chucky mentioned. The margins on individual movies or MP3s are so tiny, Amazon would lose money on each sale if they give Apple a 30% commission for providing a storefront. So maybe it’s simpler to just skip the apps. I hope not, but I could see the argument.

  4. Nope, the Fire will be a loss leader for Amazon. They’re selling device on the cheap to sell more content. They still will want to push their apps on other tablets. It just another avenue to sell more content.

  5. @John Andersen

    My iPad works fine without Flash. I’m pretty sure it would break if it did have Flash installed though.

  6. If they were making money on the HW, I’d say they’d be “possibly” likely to discontinue other platforms. But they aren’t, and it seems like they don’t have any plans to be. Which means support for other platforms will likely remain…

  7. I always assumed that the lack of an AmazonMP3 app on iOS was Apple’s decision, not Amazon’s. Would Apple allow a competitor to undercut its iTunes store? They bought out Lala before it had a chance.

  8. OT: Is is safe to assume that there will NEVER be a Netflix Streaming app on any Amazon hardware?

    This makes me sad.

  9. They’ll abandon it just like Google abandoned the iPad — oh, wait, they didn’t. Just as Google is an advertising/search company looking for any way to deliver its ads/search, including iPad. Amazon, at its heart, is a media company. The Fire is a means to deliver content – one where they probably will lose money. The iPad is too big of a platform to abandon selling media just because they compete.

  10. No way they abandon ipad, or android for that matter. I think they will continue to remain platform agnostic and have apps for all platforms. why wouldn’t they, the kindle devices do not try to directly, item for item compete with ipads and they shouldn’t AMZN is going to continue to carve out a nice niche and do well at it.

  11. what a goofy quesiton. why in the world would Amazon cut off tens of millions of iOS device users from its store by giving up on iOS apps? (same goes for Android). sure it would rather they use a Fire because then they would be really trapped into getting everything from Amazon, but tens of millions of something sales is still a whole lot more moola – like, billions more – than tens of millions of nothing sales.

    much better question is will Amazon freeze Google out of the Fire.

  12. GeorgeO, Hm interesting thought. I doubt Netflix would care (in a negative way) about pushing their app through Amazon’s app store and I wonder if Amazon would be bothered to block them. It gets into that anticompetitive stuff and given AMZN’s open stance on rooting, maybe it’d come to pass. Especially since Netflix doesn’t offer VOD… yet.

    Michael, but can they afford to give 30% to Apple? I doubt it. Meaning will get players/readers only, versus storefronts. OR as Chucky said they’ll push the limits with HTML5 in an attempt to unify the experience without cutting Apple in.

    Alfie, Except Amazon VOD and MP3 have been available longer than Kindle apps and we’ve yet to see those services available on other mobile platforms (beyond the MP3 cloud player). Perhaps all the developers are just too busy with Fire to have made it happen on iOS yet? Again as an Amazon Prime subscriber, I’m anxiously awaiting streaming from my iDevices… and somewhat bummed it’s not available. Given their brewing battle with Netflix, I assume it’s inevitable. But will it be an app or a browser-based solution?

  13. I think the smartest thing Amazon is doing here is giving away access to Amazon Prime. We’ve been Prime customers for 3 years now and the difference in our spending on Amazon pre- and post-Prime is incredible. I wonder if 1 month is long enough for people to get hooked, though.

  14. I would bet against Amazon abandoning the iPad. Even considering the fee they pay Apple, do they really want to bet that a significant percentage of the iPad owners/consumers with iPads they cut off will purchase Kindle Fires?

    While it is true that Amazon Instant Video has yet to be offered on a tablet or a phone, the reality is that it really isn’t offered on many devices at all. I would have expected they would have made more of a push to get the app on more devices. It is hard for me to tell what their thoughts are regarding Amazon Instant Video. The UI on the most prominent device – Roku – to support the app is in desperate need of a makeover; and the app could probably use some type of queue feature. Maybe the next rabbit they pull out of their hat is their own set top box? Now a Kindle Fire tablet that is well integrated (remote, “AirPlay” type feature) with a branded set top box would be interesting.

  15. When I asked Amazon about supporting the iPad for video streaming, the answer I got was that Apple wouldn’t let them. I don’t know how much truth is in that answer.

  16. This price point kills my original thought of getting a couple of HP Touchpads when they release new inventory. Just not worth it now.

  17. “OT: Is is safe to assume that there will NEVER be a Netflix Streaming app on any Amazon hardware?”

    Actually, Bezos specifically mentioned Netflix, along with Pandora, Facebook and Twitter, as likely having a Kindle Fire app ready at launch.

  18. @George The Touchpad is nice. WebOS is nice. I am curious how the experience compares to the yet unreleased Fire. For $99 it’s hard to beat for a web tablet.

    I guess it depends what you want to do with it. Also screen size. I have a NookColor which is similar to the Fire in size and is good for book reading, but much prefer web browsing on the Touchpad.

  19. @Joel Ward There is a lot of speculation about Amazon possibly buying Netflix. It sounds crazy until you remember that, for Amazon, digital content on the Kindle Fire is a means to an end: putting a Amazon store in millions of people’s hands. The Kindle Fire is way of selling them everything from books to barbecues, digital music to diapers.

    At the very least, a Netflix app removes a reason to not buy Amazon’s tablet.

  20. I love the iPad 2. All the content I need comes from a Slingbox Solo, paired with a Comcast DVR.

    I have to agree with previous posts. The Kindle hardware creates a direct shopping conduit for other Amazon products. What about the fact that Bezos could send full length infomercials to the Kindles?

    TiVo did that back in the day…

  21. I think Amazon really missed out in not buying VUDU, who had many of the contract issues worked out and were working on the ios platform and browser platform at the time. If VUDU can get streaming to work to devices easily, working around apples paywall then AMAZON can too with their content offerings. It’s only a matter of time and AMAZON has a huge leg up on a VUDU in that they already possess all the farm infrastructure and peering setups.

  22. Okay, so like others I think Amazon would be crazy to cut of iPad/iPhone users. They lose money on each Kindle Fire sold. They only make it back by selling content. They shouldn’t care what device they serve that content to. Other than the whole 30% of revenue thing of course.

    So I would expect the Kindle app to continue on the iPad. I would expect to see at some point an Amazon Instant Video streaming app. I would expect at some point to see an MP3 cloud player app.

    Will there be a player for VOD content that you have to PURCHASE? Hard to say. Clearly there won’t be a storefront since Amazon can’t afford to give Apple 30%. But for content you’ve already bought, will you be able to stream it using say the same app as Instant Video? I’d wager YES in the long run.

    Like Dave says though, the MP3 cloud player hasn’t shown up yet and by now you’d think it would have. Have you tried using the web interface for this on an iDevice? Man it SUCKS. Sorry, but for complex things apps are better at the moment.

    I think a more appropriate question would be–will Amazon block the Sony eReader store and the Barnes and Noble eReader store from the Amazon app store. I assume the answer is YES THEY WILL despite what they said in response to this question at the announcement (which wasn’t clear).

    Why would they allow Netflix then? Same reason Apple allowed Netflix on the Apple TV, though since Apple makes their money selling devices, it was probably a little easier for them than for Amazon here. But still, if they don’t allow Netflix, they’ll sell fewer devices and in the long run that’ll hurt them. If that were also true of the other eBook stores, the answer might be different, but its not.

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