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Tablet wars set for Apple vs Amazon head-to-head

Content is king. Especially if it subsidises hardware

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If Amazon makes enough tablets and prices them right, the company will sell lots of the gadgets, according to Forrester Research's Sarah Rotman Epps.

"If [Amazon's tablet] is launched at the right price with enough supply, we see Amazon's tablet easily selling 3m to 5m units in Q4 alone," she said.

If… If…

Apple sold 7.3m iPads in Q4 2010, and is likely to sell a whole lot more in Q4 2011.

But Rotman Epps has a point. Amazon could be a very strong threat to the iPad's lead in a way that no over tablet has yet shown itself to be.

Amazon, like Apple and unlike most tablet makers, sells content. [Samsung does so too, but it relies entirely on third-parties.]

Unlike even Apple, Amazon reasons it can sell more hardware if it sells the gadgets cheaply, funded by the profits it makes selling e-books and such.

Hence the £111 Wi-Fi only Kindle - and the even cheaper-but-advertising-funded one it sells in the States. Sceptics sometimes suggest all these Kindles are being used by freetards who've Torrented e-book compendia, but Amazon says it is selling more e-books than paperbacks in the States, and more of the digital volumes than hardbacks here in the UK.

Of course, if Amazon decides it can price its tablets to match or beat Apple's only slightly, Rotman Epps may be disappointed. But only numerically. Whatever the price of its tablets, Amazon's Kindle brand is strong, and the company will, like Apple, spend much more on advertising than other tablet sellers. ®

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