Everybody wants to make their own tablet these days. Heads turned last year when BlackBerry announced it would be making the PlayBook. Then Hewlett-Packard got in on the act with the TouchPad. Samsung has three lines of tablets in the pipe. HTC already has two with more coming. Asus, Acer, LG, Lenovo and even (gasp) Microsoft are working out tablet strategies. Hey, TechCrunch once had a tablet in the works. So, why not video game retailer GameStop?
GameStop announced this morning through industry site GameIndustry.biz (login required) that it is in the process of picking an existing Android tablet to ship as a "GameStop certified gaming platform." While this seems like an odd move, there are a variety of reasons that this might actually be a really smart move by GameStop.
Avoiding Traditional OEM Headaches
What is GameStop doing here exactly? This is what they are NOT doing:
- Building their own hardware
- Building a game-centric mobile operating system
- Rebuilding Android as a forked version for GameStop
- Trying to replace the iPad
"I don't see any need to create a new one with the three hundred or so on the market already," GameStop president Tony Bartel told GameIndustry.biz. "We have a refurbishment centre and we can bring in the product and preload certain games onto it. It's an Android device."
GameStop has chosen a tablet model and is going to pre-load it with Android games. It will also stream console games to the device. It will be sold at GameStop next to other gaming devices from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. GameStop is thinking of creating an external controller for the device.
This could be brilliant.
A Mini Portable Television For Gaming
Think about it. It would be like buying a small television that is hooked up to the cloud that can bring your games everywhere, anywhere, all the time. For a hardcore gamer, it might be the perfect device. Where an iPad is not optimized for the serious gamer, an Android tablet with a dual-core chip and a serious GPU could be a terrific device. On top of that, GameStop probably has no illusions of selling tens of millions of these things. They can simply reorder several thousand from the vendor (be it Motorola, Samsung, HTC, or whoever) when supplies dwindle.
Could it be a Motorola Xoom?
On one hand, GameStop may be sticking its foot in the "me too" department. They are not alone. On the other hand, this may be the next evolution of mobile gaming that started with the GameBoy long ago.
A full blown Android tablet running nearly nothing but games more or less blows the current mobile gaming systems like the Nintendo 3DS or the Sony PSP out of the water. GameStop is going to put it on store shelves right next to these very same products. If price is only a nominal issue, what are you going to choose?
Amazon Would Do Well To Partner With GameStop
It is unlikely that GameStop would be partnering with Amazon for this tablet. Foremost, the Amazon tablet is not currently in existence, which does not jive with GameStop's statement that it has already chosen a device to run its gaming platform. Yet, imagine the possibilities. GameStop would get access to all of Amazon's retail channels and Amazon would have instant access to an industry vertical it currently only is entered in through the Amazon Appstore. Amazon through GameStop becomes the go-to resource for mobile gaming the same way it for books and trying to do with music and premium video.
There is precedent for a gaming-specific Android device. The Sony Ericsson Experia Play was built as a smartphone with a gaming controller built right into the device. While this is probably not a device for adults looking for a great smartphone experience, teenage males probably find it very attractive.
Gamers: Is this a crazy idea by GameStop or does an Android tablet made specifically suited to your needs and wants the next great era of gaming. Let us know in the comments.