Tablet buyers look to Amazon over Samsung and others

Fire-Tab

Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet has only just launched this past Monday and yet it may have captured the attention of consumers over older tablets. In a poll asking which brand of tablet people expect to buy, the Yankee Group found that Amazon was the No. 2 response, behind Apple. The 13 percent who responded in favor of Amazon exceeds that of Samsung, Motorola, Research In Motion and HP, all of which have had tablets on the market for 6 to 10 months prior to the new Kindle Fire.

The survey size of 230 is small, so taken alone, it doesn’t point to any sweeping conclusions about tablet brands. But when added to other data points, the survey should at least concern the current Android tablet makers. Essentially, a new tablet device that competes well on price and focuses on a few primary mobile activities may be more desirable than a higher-priced slate that’s been available for some time and offers a wider feature set and greater flexibility. Surprisingly, Barnes & Noble doesn’t appear in the survey, so my guess is that it wasn’t an option to choose.

For a second data point — and out of curiosity — I created a Google Trends graph for all of the tablets and brands over the past 30 days. I left out the TouchPad, because at this point, it’s not for sale. What happened when I ran the trend chart? The Kindle Fire came in second to the iPad here as well:

The Fire, as well as the just-launched Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet, are both priced under the $320 median cost that consumers are willing to pay for a tablet, according to data from IMMR. And we don’t need a survey to validate this data: Just look at the HP TouchPad fire sale for $99 slates, which sold out in hours.

These results also speak to Amazon’s brand and ecosystem. The company is already known as a top-tier retailer of digital and physical goods. Plus, it has something that Motorola, RIM and HP don’t have: A direct selection of Android applications, books, movies and videos. I recently did a mobile media store comparison among Apple, Amazon and Samsung, showing that only Apple rivals Amazon in this area, which is key for a consumption-driven device.

For $199, I was generally impressed by the Kindle Fire after just 30 minutes of use. I have a Nook Tablet review unit arriving soon and will share thoughts as soon as I can, but it’s becoming clear that one way to compete against the iPad isn’t to compete directly at all. Instead, a better strategy may be to keep the price down and limit the feature set by compensating with a strong media ecosystem.

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