I still waver over whether or not Amazon will release its own tablet and whether or not it will be a general tablet or a “KindlePad.”
I think it would be in Amazon’s greater interest to make it a general tablet without restricting the eBook portion of it to Kindle books.
And should Amazon enter this market, these are the effects I think it would have:
1) eInk would become a niche product, with probably only the Kindle itself as the remaining eInk device.
2) ePub would begin to go away, with iOS devices the only ones using it as a built-in feature — until Apple overthrows it with its own eBook authoring platform or just hijacks the spec. There is no compelling reason for any Kindle user (hardware or software) to switch to ePub.
3) Niche ePub uses — such as library eBook borrowing — can be handled by a third-party tablet app, such as Aldiko.
4) Amazon would create tools for creating interactive books (books-as-apps). While Apple has disdained releasing something like an updated HyperCard to handle this, Amazon would have no such hesitation.
5) The books-as-apps frenzy would explode into overdrive, with Amazon getting more of those than iOS.
6) Amazon’s Kindle is known for the largest selection of books and this would continue with books-as-apps for a tablet. (Books-as-apps have their own set of repercussions outside of the scope of this post.)
7) Most other tablets could pack it up and go home. An Amazon tablet would sell in the millions, providing fierce competition for the iPad, crushing the NookColor, and seriously wounding the upcoming HP TouchPad. Not everyone out there is going to want more than one tablet and to have to buy apps more than once for different operating systems.
8) Amazon is more of a mainstream company than Apple. That is, it’s not seen as being particularly adventurous. So Amazon releasing a tablet would legitimize them in a bigger way than the iPad has.
9) People would feel absolutely safe buying an Amazon tablet. This is due to Amazon’s amazing customer service reputation.
10) Like Apple, Amazon could provide a full suite of media for it: books, music, video, magazines, apps, plus one thing Apple doesn’t have: stores for physical goods (hello Zappos!).
11) I doubt Amazon would require a 30% in-app vig like Apple. All of the Amazon revenue tie-ins that already exist for it would provide more profit possibilities than Apple has. Such magnanimity would create a stampede among developers.
12) Having succeeded with a tablet, Amazon would venture into a phone too.