chatter surrounds the rumored Android-based Amazon tablet, the company won't reveal any details. But according to Retrevo, Amazon leads the pack among manufacturers, excluding Apple, from whom potential customers would "seriously consider buying a tablet." And which tablet feature matters to consumers most? The price.No matter how much
The iPad has little serious competition right now, but its base price is $499. Retrevo's study found that 31% of consumers would buy an Android-based tablet for cheaper, even if it cost as much as $400. Unsurprisingly, the cheaper the device, the more respondents said they would buy one: Almost half would buy an Android tablet over an iPad if it cost $300 or less; 79% would for $250.
The news that consumers want a cheap tablet isn't exactly noteworthy. But the survey respondents were potential tablet buyers who likely knew what features they would miss out on if they choose a cheaper device over an iPad. Back in February 2010, we reported on another Retrevo study that asked people, both before and after its launch, if they would buy an iPad. The numbers weren't good. Those who claimed they didn't need an iPad jumped from 49% to 61% after the launch. Obviously, that wasn't a good indicator of future sales.
But today, the market is very different. Retrevo found that low price is far more important to potential tablet buyers than a high-resolution display or other features like better input methods. And Amazon is a digital media powerhouse. Movies, books, and music on the device could help them make up for other missing features. Their sales could also help Amazon recover some of the costs of selling a cheaper device.
But does all this necessarily mean that Amazon will be the one to compete with the iPad? Well, Retrevo also found that Amazon topped the list of manufacturers, other than Apple, from whom potential customers would consider buying a tablet. This is a tricky statistic, though; Retrevo themselves admit that they're "not positive" that some respondents weren't confounded by Amazon's several businesses, but even if this is just a sign of brand recognition, it's a good sign for Amazon. We've reported on rumors that Amazon will outsource the manufacturing of the mythical tablet to Samsung, and Samsung tied with Dell for second place in this study.
Amazon's track record with the Kindle shows that they're not afraid to price their devices to move, and they confirmed in yesterday's earnings report that their ad-supported Kindle, the cheapest model, is their best-seller. By outsourcing production, and perhaps by using cheaper, simpler new touchscreen technologies, Amazon could give consumers what they really want out of a tablet: A bargain.