back to article Would you be seen dead with a shopping computer?

Amazon's first tablet, according to reports, is designed entirely around getting stuff from Amazon. The first hands-on (no pix) report indicates that it's a fork of Android, heavily customised to run a colour Kindle app – and provide access to Amazon's other services. Like the eInk Kindle, the all-colour Kindle tablet will be a …


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  1. A. Lewis

    Good article.

    Though I must dispute the assertion: "[Amazon] know who you are. Google doesn't."

    Through my Android 'phone and my frequent use of Google Mail, Maps, Calendar and Reader: Google knows who I am, what I'm interested in, who my friends are, what I'm doing tonight, where I've been and they could even give you a pretty good idea of where I am right now. Amazon may know what I'm buying, but the receipts all get e-mailed to: guess where? And if Google plus ever takes over in popularity from Facebook they'll know even more about me.

    It scares me when I think about it. So I try not to. Pass me some more of that digital valium please!

  2. fLaMePrOoF
    Thumb Up


    "I haven't seen an authoritative figure of how much Android development is costing Google annually, but I have heard $3bn touted, which seems plausible. That's a lot to pay to get beaten up. Now, some people pay money to dress in rubber and have the crap beaten out of them. But you must wonder how long Google wants to keep funding something more useful to others than itself."

    Actual LoL =OD

  3. RichyS

    Interesting article, but...

    Couple of points:

    Firstly, I don't suppose Amazon care that no self respecting techie would buy a shopping terminal. This isn't aimed at techies.

    Secondly, I suspect Google know quite well who you are (if not, yet, by name -- witness the real names issue with G+). But, more importantly, /you/ are not Google's customer, the advertisers are. You (or what Google knows about you) is what is for sale. Of course, this point may well be moot if you're talking explicitly about Android forks -- but if you were, this isn't clear from the article.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Go title yourself.

    The "self-respecting techie" value could come in hacking the thing though surely? Like with that Joggler thingymajig from o2 (seems like years ago now).. it could become a nicely cheap hardware platform subsidised by Amazon on the assumption you'll use it to purchase more tat from them.. But someone clever will put standard Android onto it rather fast I would have thought... I guess that market will be reliant on the hardware specs being significantly better than anything else in the same price bracket - and I've not seen and in-depth info as yet.

    1. Turtle_Fan

      ...I've not seen and in-depth info as yet

      I have and it's utter crap.

      There's another article with first impressions and some specs for it, somewhere in the reg dungeon.

      Can't find the link but think: 2-finger multi-touch, no camera, no 3G (not sure about GPS, compass etc.).

      Not very whelming at all...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Go title yourself.

        Ach well, never mind. It was a nice idea :-)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've watched quite a few Kindle users.

    Most of them seem to take a long time to read a small amount of text. From that, I draw the entirely anecdotal conclusion that they don't read many books. From which I further conclude that Amazon could probably sell a non-user-updatable Kindle, working on a Book of the Month club model. Take what you're given.

    I wouldn't buy it, but it would be a useful identifier of those folk who, when they see you reading (say) Roberto Bolano, can't wait to tell you how much they enjoy Jack Reacher books.

    Snob - moi?

    1. jonathan1


      Kindle owners don't read many books based on the ability to read quickly? My reading ability is probably considered slow therefore:

      I own a device that can store many books because I don't read many books even though I bought a Kindle because I own too many books and I don't have shelf space to buy/store more.

      My head hurts.

      Never read a Jack Reacher any good?

      I love my Kindle, I can read in bright light with getting a head ache and it doesn't go flat before the day is out. Tablets on the other hand...expensive things to browse the web on.

      1. James Hughes 1


        I'm with Jonathan - I love my Kindle. I can read just as fast on it as a normal book. I've never paid for a book. I've charged in about 10 times since I bought it just after Xmas.

        Currently reading Mugby Junction, have quite a few others by same author on the Kindle, waiting.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Jack Reacher - any good?

        Yes, if you like that sort of thing. Plot synopsis - bang! Cardboard good guy shoots cardboard bad guys, and lives moodily till the next book.

        You consider yourself a slow reader and you don't read many books, but you own as many books as you have space for, and are buying yet more books to load on your Kindle... I don't think this counts against my idea for a Book of the Month Kindle

    2. AndyJenk


      I use my right thumb to page forward on my kindle. I keep it resting lightly on the page forward button almost all the time. From a distance of a foot I am hard-pressed to spot movement when I click to the next page. How you can tell how fast they read without looking over their shoulder and watching the screen I don't know. I DO know that someone looking over MY shoulder would definitely slow my reading speed if not stop it entirely.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      slow readers?

      well my girlfriend reads, on average, about 2 books per day. it's incredible how quickly she ploughs through books. can't afford to buy the dead-tree variety, so the kindle is a god-send for allowing her to access books via non-amazon-approved channels

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Mmm flamebait

      My wife has a Kindle, and she reads, on average, a novel every two days on it. That's in addition to the dozens of print books she reads every year - some for work, some for pleasure.

      There's nothing inherent about the Kindle that makes it only suitable for or appealing to slow readers. In fact, it has advantages for fast readers, particularly when traveling. My wife used to travel with half a dozen novels tucked in the suitcase; now she just needs her Kindle.

      As for snobbery - you're not even close to Andrew "no self-respecting techie" Orlowski's league, I'm afraid.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No way can it be $3billion

    Assuming a total cost for an engineer to be $300000 then that would mean they have 10,000 engineers working on Android. That just isn't the case. I'd be surprised if it's even a tenth that much

    1. Jay42

      3B$ not plausable...

      ... unless there is some crazeee anti-Google bias

      Particularly if you understand how Google S/W development methodology differs from say the IBM, Microsoft style.

    2. cloudgazer


      Apple, which is maintaining both a desktop and mobile OS and which has both hardware and software had a total R&D expense of $1.8BN in 2010, so the idea that Android costs almost twice as much to develop as everything that Apple does is clearly bonkers.

      Google does spend a lot on R&D, 3.8Bn in 2010, but Google is a huge incubator of ideas, many of which are purely internal. 80% of their R&D budget isn't going on Android.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        He doesn't say Google spend $3 billion on RnD. Or on developing android. He says developing android costs google $3 billion. Presumably because other companies use or fork it for free, and then leverage that to take market share from Google in areas they wouldn't otherwise be able to, if they didn't have the present of Android to use.

        It would be nice to see some facts back up that theory, mind.

      2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: exactly!

        See below

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: a tenth that much

      Even one hundredth wouldn't be an absurd figure for a development that is supposed to be mostly a fork of Linux.

  7. william_7

    3 billion

    not even close to starting to be plausible.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    It's a connected PMP

    with a direct line into Amazon's retail channel combined with some light messaging and web browsing functions. Whether or not the world wants a device that sits between a tablet and a Kindle is another matter. Time and sales numbers will tell.

  9. heyrick Silver badge

    A few points

    Firstly, let's have a reference to the $3BN claim. And not for "all of Google's R&D" or " running Google services" (remember YouTube), but for developing Android alone. You might find a more reliable figure is an order of magnitude smaller.

    Secondly, the big danger here is fragmentation. I can see those companies with clout asking for custom hiccups to be added to the chips so only their flavour of Android will work with their custom build, which requires specific black-box drivers buried under layers of NDAs. We could, in such a scenario, revert back to the '80s with a dozen home computers all incompatible running on a 6502...? Is this really what we want?

    I think Android is going to continue, and remember Google isn't looking to make money off selling you Android, or even a phone. It's your data they're after.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: A few points

      Very good point Rick: base porting is difficult and a huge expense. ODMs using a fork will have to address it.

      But they might have some help. If Baidu and Amazon devices shift buckets, then Qualcomm and others will be happy to help them out. It might be the new norm - we'll only take the chipsets with a working fork of Android.

      1. spencer

        Price of entry?

        An open source project always runs the risk of being forked, most devs without an agenda would probably welcome a good forking.

        However, having an open system has meant that android has found itself on a whole load of devices that it wouldn't have otherwise.

        Perhaps this was just the price of entry into the mobile space. From a standing start to the highest used smartphone OS (NOT FACT CHECKED, could be wrong) maybe open source was the shortcut required?

    2. Ian Michael Gumby

      Ok, I have to ask...

      So when can we see Oracle suing Baidu ?sp? or now Amazon for running Android forks?

      With respect to your flashback to the 80's (actually late 70's to be a bit more precise...)

      You had 6800, 6502, 8080s (Z80s and 8080-A) chipsets.

      Each with their strengths and weaknesses, each coming from a different vendor.

      Do you see that happening with different fragments from Android?

      Amazon could frag off a distro and make it their own, and license it out again.

      Android is licensed under Apache 2.0 so Amazon can do a lot of things.

      So outside of Oracle's battle with Android... would you really trust a distro from a non-Google source?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    The writer needs to do fact checking...

    Amazon is designing the device around it services, true. HOWEVER, it services go far beyond the Kindle and Shopping. They have an app store and music store, both of which are the entire "focus" of the iPad. Therefore, if you were going to call this "Shopping" device, you might as well call the iPad one too.

    Having a tightly integrated Music/App management tool (e.g. iTunes) is exactly what Google is missing here...

    The story looks foolish to anyone who knows anything about technology.

    1. Sir Cosmo Bonsor

      As the article clearly says:

      "designed entirely around getting stuff from Amazon"

      Which bit don't you understand?

    2. RightPaddock

      Maybe Google will Stream the Music

      Spotify is now available in the US, Google could buy it and stream your music collection to your devices for free, you pay for by subscribing to advertising channels. Why bother downloading and transferring to different devices when it can be streamed - into your phone, into your home, into your car on your command.

  11. ratfox

    So, Apple are assholes for having a closed system...

    And Google is stupid for letting competitors use its kinda-open system (though they already get complaints about not being open enough)?

  12. spencer

    A subsidised media consumption device.

    A bit like an Ipad, except cheaper and with a massive supplier at the end.

    Thank it'll be a winner... The Ipad is basically a media consumtion device (no keyboard means actual content creation is long winded) and so is this.

  13. HP Cynic

    Content Consumption Device

    That's what the iPad is, you don't produce or really do anything with it, you "consume content" (much of which is shopped for).

    The Kindle Tablet will me much the same I'd think though with a very prominent, nay all-pervasive, Amazon App/Homepage :)

    The most interesting thing I've heard about this so far is that it's supposed to cost $250 instead of $600. So even if it's a more limited device it's finally something that will be:

    1. Sold at a reasonable price.

    2. Marketed hard

    3. A familiar brand - the Kindle we have now sells very well.

    So this should will sell well and gain market share making it attractive to develop for.

    I look forward to seeing it launched.

    1. juice

      To me, $250 sounds quite expensive for a 7" tablet

      A quick look on (i.e. not shows that the average price for a 7" Android tablet is around $180 (f'instance:

      Now, given that Amazon has far better economies of scale for manufacturing and distribution, I'd expect them to be able to retail a similar piece of hardware at around $150 and still make a profit - even with the custom UI they've stuck atop Android. So why's it coming out at $250?

      1. gafisher

        Value Added

        If, as rumored, the Amazon tablet includes free Amazon Prime membership (meaning, among other things, free streaming of many, many movies, TV shows, etc.) and, of course, if a potential buyer wanted what Prime offers without paying US$80/year for it, then the price is quite low for a 7" tablet.

        Having said that, I don't think the Android 2.0 example you gave is much of a competitor, even at closeout prices.

  14. Dana W
    Thumb Down

    The inescapable commercial.

    I've been expecting this ever since the still thankfully optional ad supported Kindle.

    What frightens me is how many people are happy to be bathed in ads to save a few bucks.

    1. gafisher


      I'm far less 'frightened' by those willing to let others subsidize their recreation than by those willing to pay a premium for the iSell family of devices.

  15. Timjl

    This covers it in more depth

  16. Bwill

    Sure I would...

    It's hip to walk around with an Apple shopping cart (iPad) -- but not an Amazon one. The purpose of the iPad is to funnel everything you consume through the Apple experience. Why should Amazon be any different? The Nook Color is the same in nature and they've carved out a nice niche. Granted Amazon's tablet will not be as elegant or well thought out as an iPad, but ultimately it's quite similar in its' goals. Apple wants you to buy media through their App Store and Amazon want you to buy media (and everything else) through theirs. If either delivers what you want or need why should you be embarrassed to carry either? I buy my tech based on it's functionality, not to impress others.

    1. cloudgazer
      Thumb Down

      Bzzt - sorry wrong

      The purpose of the iPad for Apple isn't to get consumers to buy media from iTunes, it's to make money from hardware sales. Apple could care less whether you consume netflix or huly on your iPad, because their margins on media are tiny and their margins on devices are huge. The only real advantage for them if you buy from iTunes is it ties you into buying further hardware devices.

      The difference is pretty clear when you consider the regular Kindle and the iPad. The old Kindle actually does have a dev kit for app development but 3rd party eReader apps are expressly forbidden, because they would defeat the purpose of the device - whereas 3rd party media apps on iOS or Google Android devices are fine and dandy.

      1. gafisher

        Bases covered

        I'm trying to think of anything else you could have gotten wrong about Apple wanting to sell media.

        Nope, you've nailed it.

  17. rav
    Thumb Down

    Bezos rocket bomb....

    Bezos rocket will probably fly higher and faster than the Bezos shopping tablet. But not much. booooom

  18. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    "Shopping computer"?

    What do you think the iPod/iTunes combo was/is? Plenty of techies own those.

    1. gafisher


      Well, not many real techies but for sure all the kool kids.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I don't like that they're muddying the brand, Kindle for me rings of eparper and ebook reading, while a tablet is a thing for doing some stuff, in this case shopping, and not reading very well with a short (in comparison to a eink ebook reader)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    $3bn? puh-leez

    As others have commented, the $3bn/year figure for Android is fantasy anti-Google bashing.

    Even if it is $300m/year, consider the 500,000 Android handsets a DAY that are being registered by Google. That's official Android, not dodgy Chinese stuff with no Android Market. Divide one by the other, and Google have a $1.50 one-off customer acquisition cost for a user who is going to likely be a heavy user of Market, GMail, Search, and not forgetting AdMob ads. Ballmer would kill for that.

  21. Wile E. Veteran

    I prefer dead trees

    If I buy it, it's mine forever (or at least I can leave anything worthwhile to my kid or grandkids when I die). If I want just the right to read a book without owning it, there's this thing called the "public library" that provides such a service and at no direct charge either (yeah, it's paid for by my taxes). What's more, it has this thing called a "trained librarian" who can help me find information from sources Google cannot access. There are also things called "university libraries" which are repositories of more historical, literary and technical books than Amazon will ever have in its inventory.

    A pox on electronic ad-delivery and tat vendors.

    1. gafisher

      I prefer live data

      I spend over a thousand dollars a year on real books, mostly hardcover, but when I'm e.g. in the middle of a meeting or on public transportation no library, including my own, is a practical option -- except for the one in my Kindle. Further, with my 3G Kindle I can locate, purchase and use books I don't already have within seconds, something that's proved indispensable on several occasions.

  22. JB
    Thumb Up

    You choose

    I have an ipad and a kindle, and apart from one app on the iPad that cost me 99c, everything on both devices cost me nothing. I like to read on the kindle and browse the web (and draw!) on the iPad. If I decide I want to throw a few quid/bucks apple's or Amazon's way, that's fine, but I do get to choose,a nd both deices are very usable without having to constantly visit the stores.

  23. I Like Heckling Silver badge
    Thumb Down


    I wouldn't be seen with any product that tried to tie me to a single source... no matter who made it.

  24. GrantB

    $300m a year

    Still buys a lot of development resource; and from what I read Google are pretty good at churning out code. I suspect the legal budget might be signficant however - good lawyers are actually more expensive than good coders, (sadly)

    If Google are spending significant amounts of money, it gives hardware makers a good reason not to fork. Even the top-tier handset companies don't have that sort of money to throw at maintaining changes in things like browser technology or payment systems or whatever is required next week in a mobile platform.

    Adding another layer or removing stuff only works for so long; somebody like Amazon would struggle to compete with Google software development, so a standard Android 3.x install on a generic chinese handset will have a state of the art Chrome/WebKIt browser whereas the Amazon tablet will quickly fall behind. After all, whats the browser or twitter client like on the Kindle at the moment?

    Not to mention that Google can start playing games like embedding ebook readers and access into future OS versions that Amazon will have to cut out of any bug-fix updates.

    Amazon will have to struggle to stop the jail-break crowd getting an alternative Android install running on the tablet as well.

    I think Google should just offer multiple Android versions - a free open source version, and a paid for version ($10 per handset or whatever) that gives hardware makers protection against patent claims. Given the amount of Android handsets, Google could make a lot of money.

    Thought also occurred; Google still have plenty of money in the bank. own Motorola mobile business.. and Nokia's value is being driven down by Elop.. people assume that MS will buy Nokia once it is cheap enough.. but Google buying Nokia would be 'interesting'

  25. Tony Paulazzo

    So for $350

    They could throw in a 'free' Kindle for ebook consumption, I'd still buy it. Also, how come everybody knows that Amazon haven't given 'something' back to Google for their 'forked' android version. A nod and a wink and a scratched back do wonders for business.

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