I have always perceived Amazon as a threat for Apple. After all, they have a mobile device which is kind of a tablet (Kindle) and a bunch of cloud services. Still, they never felt close, mostly because they have always focused on a niche (books).
Everything is about to change: Amazon is about to release a 7-inch touchscreen Android tablet, a direct challenge to the iPad.
Why do I think this will be huge?
Here you have the first eight things that come to mind:
1. Amazon is the most valuable and trusted brand online. The cloud, which goes hand-to-hand with mobile devices, is a place where trust is everything. In particular, if you are storing your most important data. Amazon has gained the trust of about everyone. Nobody comes close.
2. Amazon has your credit card, and everyone's else (at least in the US). Having a billing relationship is something Google is dreaming of, and the big advantage Apple has on the App Store vs. the Android Marketplace. I would bet Amazon has more credit cards than Apple does in this country.
3. Amazon has a phenomenal sales machine to push a new retail device, as they have done with the Kindle. Guess what? They will call this one Kindle as well, a new kind of Kindle, the natural upgrade to all Kindles they have sold so far. It will be on Amazon home page every single day, as the most important gift for your Christmas list.
4. Amazon is setting the perfect price for a tablet: $250. Anything closer to the iPad is a no show. Forget the Android tablets in the market today: if I want to buy a tablet and the price is close to the iPad, I will buy an iPad. Period. There is no game. If you say "half the price", you have my attention. And you are about to end in my Christmas list (and not only for me, it is a perfect gift).
5. Amazon has everything in the cloud. I mean everything you need: they have books (duh), music (Amazon MP3 is awesome) and movies (Instant Video). They match Apple (nobody else does). Actually, Amazon is better at books... There is a chance they will throw in free Instant Video, as they are doing today with Amazon Prime. It would be Netflix on a mobile device, for free... Huge.
6. Amazon is planning to ship a tablet with the right size. A 7 inches tablet does not really compete with the iPad. It is a different thing. It is something you can bring to bed with you. It is an upgrade to the Kindle. But it does everything else the iPad does. It is like an iPad Mini, at half the price.
7. Amazon has an App Store with apps. This tablet is built on Android, and Amazon has its own marketplace. You can be sure that 99% of developers will make sure to upload their app on the Amazon Appstore right away, as soon as the new Kindle ships. Right now, there is no incentive or very little (I downloaded the Amazon Appstore on my Android smartphone, used once and already deleted it) but users drive developers. Trust me, it will take days not weeks.
8. Amazon is choosing the right time to launch it: October, just in time for the holiday season.
Is this enough to challenge Apple and the iPad this Christmas? You bet. We are about to hit the second wave of tablet purchases, the massive one of the Early Majority, now that most of the Early Adopters have one (and some have already lost their first one, ehm...). Right price, right timing, right features, some cool perks (like Istant Video) and Amazon immediately becomes the #1 competitor for Apple. Cool.