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How Will Amazon, Barnes & Noble Survive the iPad Mini? 354

Posted by timothy
from the add-rear-facing-cameras-dammit dept.
redletterdave writes "For about a year, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble were almost completely alone in the 7-inch tablet market. It was nice while it lasted. The past few months have seen Google and Microsoft unveil their 7-inch tablet offerings — the Nexus 7 and Microsoft Surface, respectively — and it looks like Apple is about ready to get into the mini tablet game, too. If Apple releases its first 'iPad Mini' next month, what can Amazon and Barnes & Noble do to keep the Cupertino colossus at bay, as well as the other new competitors in the 7-inch tablet game?"
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How Will Amazon, Barnes & Noble Survive the iPad Mini?

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  • Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@nOsPAm.beau.org> on Sunday August 12, 2012 @12:39PM (#40964715)

    I get really tired of this frame of stories that assume Apple is the alpha and the omega.

    Who cares about a possible iPad Mini that isn't drinking the Kool-Aid already? Just another iOS device, they already come with a range of displays, connectivity, etc. If you have already bought into the iOS ecosystem you might want one, otherwise not so much. What other OEM adding a new screen size would be a major story on /.? Newsflash! Dell adds new display option to their laptop line, discuss.

    And for that matter, I don't really care about the Amazon or Nook tablets because they are trying to run the same Apple game plan, poorly. I don't want to semi-buy a tethered device that is more a tethered window into it's owner's cloud than a computer that [I] control. And to a great extent I toss the new Google Nexus 7 (by Asus) into the same pile.

    Look around and you can buy tablets in any size, build quality and price that can be unlocked, accept removable media, even boot from that external media. Want one with a keyboard? Yup. Good cameras, sensors, etc. How much ya willing to pay? In other words, tablet computers instead of iPad clones. You can keep your subsidized[1] media players; I'm a nerd and I buy computers.

    Just don't expect to buy a computer from a media company and get anything useful. Which is what B&N and Amazon are, Apple is in the process of becoming and Google is greatly desiring to be.

    [1] Well not subsidized from Apple of course, there you pay more for the chains... but they are just so stylish!

  • Eink (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sehryan (412731) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @12:45PM (#40964763)

    Put the focus back where it belongs for their particular devices - Eink.

    There are a ton of people who don't want to look at yet another computer screen when they are reading, which is why those people (me included) go for the Eink devices instead of the 7" tablets.

    That is the space that made them popular, and that is the space they need to put the focus back on as a differentiating - and positive selling - factor.

  • by Ami Ganguli (921) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @12:50PM (#40964801) Homepage

    The Kindle hardware is just a channel to sell e-books. If Kindle hardware sales dry up due to competition from other tables, it's not a problem as long as the other devices that people buy support the Kindle App.

  • Re:E-Ink (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @12:57PM (#40964843)

    They'll survive because nobody with two brain cells to rub together enjoys reading on a backlit and always-refreshing screen.

    Spoken by a person reading slashdot on a "backlit and always-refreshing screen".

  • Re:Eink (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wvmarle (1070040) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @01:06PM (#40964915)

    And battery life.

    These Kindles may not continue forever, they do last very very long on a charge - Amazon claims up to two months, based on half an hour reading a day, so about 30 hours of constant use.

    The iPad 3 is reported to last only around six hours.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bogtha (906264) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @01:12PM (#40964951)

    Who cares about a possible iPad Mini that isn't drinking the Kool-Aid already?

    Pretty much everybody, because whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, Apple defined this market with the iPad. You say it yourself, all the major competitors are basically following Apple's lead. Every tablet from every competitor is compared to the iPad in reviews. The tablet market was practically non-existent before the iPad was released. It's not so much a tablet market as an iPad market with a few hangers on.

  • E-ink (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @01:27PM (#40965073) Homepage

    Amazon, B&N and all the others will survive because they have E-ink screens, which are far superior (and, sadly, more expensive) for their specialized purpose.
    If people wanted a color 7" tablet to do more than just reading, e-readers would have been gone from the market already. The only benefit a dedicated e-reader has over one of those cheap 7" no-name Android tablets is the screen. Even the cheapest Android tablet outperforms an e-reader in every way... except the screen.

  • Re:Idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by andy16666 (1592393) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @01:42PM (#40965217)
    Most Apple customers these days aren't part of the fanbase. They're just regular people lately.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @01:43PM (#40965221)

    I went with a kindle instead of an iPad not for the price and not for the size, but because of the eInk display. It makes for a much nicer reading than any display I had sofar. Of course this makes the kindle solely a book-reading device. But for this, it's close to optimal.

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @01:46PM (#40965257) Homepage

    Tablet computers are becoming a commodity. A 7" tablet from China is only $70. [alibaba.com] On Amazon, you can now get Android tablets from $60. [amazon.com] Since the Allwinner ARM system on a chip came out for $7, with no US intellectual property to run up the price, the compute power in low-end tablets has been quite impressive. Tablet computers are going to be something you buy in a blister pack at the convenience store.

    How will Apple, with all their expensive stores on expensive real estate, and a business built on huge markups, deal with that? Their pricing is around $400, over five times the price of the competition. They can't maintain that margin.

    There's a market for luxury items. The CEO of Rolex says "We are not in the watch business, we are in the luxury business. The volumes are small. Apple is too big a company to take that route. Apple may have to try coming out with lower-priced lines to compete.

  • Re:E-Ink (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @01:54PM (#40965339) Journal

    No, it's not. Books - especially fiction books - are 99% text with the most basic layout possible, and minimal typesetting differences throughout the book. Your typical website has a far more complicated layout and typesetting requirements, often uses color, and generally requires scrolling (rather than page flipping) to conveniently read. Not to mention the whole interactive angle with clicking links; books only have an occasional footnote.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @02:08PM (#40965453)

    I get really tired of this frame of stories that assume Apple is the alpha and the omega.

    When you start out like that you just look uninformed [thenextweb.com].

    The fact is you should care if Apple is entering a niche because it means that other options may well dry up.

    I don't really care about the Amazon or Nook tablets because they are trying to run the same Apple game plan, poorly

    Poorly? Both seem to have done really well. Amazon has a tablet that lets people easily hook into the benefits of the media Amazon provides, and they have done a good job of selling devices.

    I don't want to semi-buy a tethered device that is more a tethered window into it's owner's cloud than a computer that [I] control.

    All of these tablets are computers you can easily control. Why then ignore the very real benefits that derive from the tablet maker also offering a hook into convenient cloud services?

    iCloud will happily back up a jailbroken iPad as easily as a non-jailbroken iPad...

    In other words, tablet computers instead of iPad clones. You can keep your subsidized[1] media players; I'm a nerd and I buy computers.

    You claim you are a nerd, yet you discard the best hardware on the market (not just Apple), hardware that as you admit is perhaps cheaper through subsidization - that you don't even have to use!

    A true nerd doesn't care what features a device ships with, just how much control they have over a device and what the hardware is. The iPad is as controllable a device as anything after jailbreaking - which even non-nerds can do, yet it seems to be too intimidating for you.

    Weak sauce man. If you want be a nerd or hacker, be that - but don't proclaim some hardware is beyond your nerd-love simply because of extra features targeting the masses that you don't even have to activate.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Sunday August 12, 2012 @03:30PM (#40965987) Homepage Journal

    I don't have an iPhone or an iPod. I have an HTC Desire and a Sandisk Sansa (with Rockbox). What do people say to me?

    "Hipster." I have a Sansa with Rockbox, too, but stopped using it approximately the first time I ever saw an iPod Touch.

    I don't believe there actually is a tablet market. Just an iPad market. No one wants tablets, just something that makes them look cool and hip. Like everyone else.

    Well, that's just precious! In the real world, people love tablets. There are a lot of people who want portable, Internet-capable devices without lugging around laptops. I'm sure there's some tiny portion of the tablet market who likes being seen with them, but the owners I've seen tend to use them while lounging around their houses watching Netflix or playing games.

    Note: I don't have an iPad and I'm not defending my own purchasing decisions. I have a Nook Simple Touch that I use purely as an ebook reader because I don't really have a need for anything else between my phone and laptop. But it's sheer ignorance to claim that tablets are a fad just because you don't like them. Lots of people do, and manufacturers have made a few billion dollars selling them without an end in sight.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pubwvj (1045960) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @04:04PM (#40966209)

    "What will they use it for? Nothing that they can't already do on a computer or a standard iPad, that's for sure. But the fact that it's yet another Apple Fashion Accessory[1], they will buy buy buy buy buy! Because if you don't have one, you're weird."

    There are people who will want the smaller, more easily carried form factor. Fine for makers to offer it. Our family has an iPad (v1.0) which is great for reading documents. I have to read a lot of government regulations and I can get them all on-line as PDFs. Reading on the iPad is easier than reading them on my MacBook. I wouldn't go out and buy a 7" version to replace the what ever inch v1.0 iPad I have but if the price were significantly lower for the smaller one and I were initially buying then it would be a good option. For creating content my MacBook is far better.

    "consider that Apple has been selling high-priced laptops for over a decade, despite the emergence of $350 laptops, they still manage to sell them for $2000+."

    Apple's $2K MacBook's are a lot better than the el-cheapo $350 laptops and last a lot longer. There is a huge reason Apple can command a premium: Quality. Apple's laptops last ten to 15 years and can be passed down in the family. A $350 el-cheapo laptop lasts a year or two. Doing the math that makes the Apple laptop cost about $200 per year which is a lot less than the $350 per year for the 'el-cheapo' laptop. Not only that but the lifetime cost of maintenance on the Apple's has been shown in studies to be a small fraction of the Windows PCs (probably OS for 'el-cheapo') so there is more savings.

  • by sootman (158191) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @04:23PM (#40966345) Homepage Journal

    And there are cheaper music players than iPods, and cheaper laptops than MacBooks, and yet somehow Apple has turned into the biggest company on the planet than isn't a bank or oil concern. Apple is selling more and more computers, phones, and tablets year over year, every year. (The only thing that's going down is their iPod sales because everyone's buying iPhones instead.) The whole market is growing--people are buying tablets who never bought computers, and cell phones are literally going to hit the points where 99% of the PLANET owns one. (Did you know their iPhone business--something that didn't even exist five years ago--is bigger than the entirety of Microsoft?)

    Apple is not a niche, small-volume luxury company like Rolex. You're comparing a multi-hundred dollar, multi-feature device to a multi-thousand dollar, single-function device--of course Rolex is going to have orders of magnitude less volume.

    I always laugh when posts like yours get high "Insightful" mods. You're cherry-picking all these little facts here and there while ignoring the hundred-billion-dollar elephant in the room.

    > How will Apple, with all their expensive stores on
    > expensive real estate, and a business built on
    > huge markups, deal with that?

    LOL. Have you ever heard "you've got to spend money to make money"? Apple retail stores have the highest profit per square foot ratio of any retail chain [tuaw.com] by a HUGE margin. (Almost 2x higher than #2, Tiffany.) And it's been like that for five years. [cnn.com]

    Also: you really think all these companies with razor-thin margins are going to thrive in Apple's place? You can ask Dell how well that strategy worked for them long-term. And have you ever used a generic tablet? I have, and they all suck in every way you can imagine. Apple's resources give them the ability to make things people actually want.

    I'm not saying Apple will reign forever, but it will take them a LONG time to fall.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @04:43PM (#40966493)
    The tablet market was like turbos in cars. GM did them in the '60s so bad that nobody wanted them again. Even with the Turbo Trans Am in the '80s, that failed miserably. Then companies like Saab and Volvo had turbos everywhere and did fine, beating GM in price, economy, and performance with turbos.

    I used tablets in the '90s. They were heavy (heavier than laptops). They were slow (speced similar to low-end laptops). And they were expensive (priced similar to high-end laptops). And the OS sucked. Mostly windows where a touch was a click, and dragging was neigh impossible. They required styluses. The few that were bought were very limited in scope (the only deployment I saw was for doctors, or places with test units).

    So, every time someone said "tablet" after that, it was slow, heavy, expensive, like "turbo" meant oil-burning and unreliable. Until someone came in and did it right, without regards to what had come before. Apple created the tablet market. There had been tablets before, but no market for them. There was a market for them like touchpad and touchpoint are separate markets. It was a funky laptop market until Apple stepped in and showed everyone else how it was done. Well, the Kindle may have made a name for itself, but it was a reader, not a tablet.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Golden_Rider (137548) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @04:54PM (#40966597)

    I went with a kindle instead of an iPad not for the price and not for the size, but because of the eInk display. It makes for a much nicer reading than any display I had sofar. Of course this makes the kindle solely a book-reading device. But for this, it's close to optimal.

    Have to agree here. I, too, have a Kindle (the older non-touch one), and it is close to perfect for reading text. Which is what I personally want to do with my "reader device", I could not care less about a colour display or web browsing / facebooking / whatever. I just want to read books I purchase on amazon or texts/manga I upload via USB. The eInk display is absolutely perfect for that, especially when reading outdoors on a sunny day - but even indoors, it feels (at least to me) far more comfortable on the eyes than a backlit display.

    If Apple a new "iPad Mini", it will probably have some uber awesome "retina" display and cost upwards of $300 - and any ebook reader with an eInk display will still be better for reading books and have a longer battery life, too.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @07:01PM (#40967513)

    No one is still using a 10 (let alone 15) year old laptop for anything. Certainly no one I'd listen to regarding my technology choices.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @07:56PM (#40967971)

    Apple's laptops last ten to 15 years and can be passed down in the family.

    Oh wow! People are still using PowerBook G3s?

    The only person using a 10-15 year old Mac laptop are the poor people in Ethiopia who were gifted them as some part of charity program, or some kids children being mentally abused by their anti-nerd father. I don't think I've even seen one of those fluro coloured Macbooks in 3 years and they were all the rage before the aluminium look era.

    Incidentally I also have a fully working Dell Inspiron 4100 here. It was a cheap laptop when I bought it and still works as good as it did that day. I use it every so often as a science experiment (literally data collection since it has a serial port). This works very well because unlike any Apple portable product which becomes essentially useless after a few years without a power cord I bought two Inspiron 4100 batteries about 4 months ago and the laptop happily hums away for 8-10 hours at a time unsupervised (dual battery slots).

    You can keep justifying your expensive habit anyway you want.

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