The Walmart of the web
The internet giant’s new tablet computer fits itsstrategy of developing big businesses by charging small prices
A couple of years after it launched its website in 1995, Amazon was the subject of an unflattering report entitled “Amazon.Toast”. The pundit who penned it predicted that the fledgling online bookseller would soon be crushed by Barnes & Noble (B&N), a book-retailing behemoth which had just launched its own site.
Far from being crushed, Amazon is doing the crushing. Borders, a once-mighty book chain, was flattened this year. B&N looks likea frightened capybara running from a fierce Brazilian she-warrior. Amazon is now one of the web’s most successful e-tailers. Even Apple is feeling the heat.
On September 28th Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s boss, unveiled a tablet computer called the Kindle Fire. It will compete with gadgets such as B&N’s Nook Color tablet and Apple’s iPad. The new Amazon tablet, which has a somewhat smaller screen than the iPad and only offers Wi-Fi connectivity, is likely to be just the first salvo in a titanicbattle.
9月28日，亚马逊的老板Jeff Bezos发布了一款名为Kindle Fire的平板电脑。它将与巴诺的Nook Color电子书和苹果的iPad展开竞争。新款亚马逊平板电脑的屏幕比iPad小几分，并且只提供无线保真网络连接，它的出现有可能是一场鏖战前的第一枪。
Like Apple, Amazon boasts a huge collection of online content, including e-books, films and music. And like Apple, it lets people store their content in a computing “cloud” and retrieve it from almost anywhere. But the two firms part company when it comes to pricing. The Kindle Fire, which will be available from mid-November in America, will cost only $199. That is far less than the cheapest iPad, a Wi-Fi-only device which costs $499. B&N responded to the Kindle Fire by cutting the price of its Nook Color to $224. This week Amazon also rolled out a new range of Kindle e-readers, the cheapest of which costs just $79. “We are building premium products and offering them at non-premium prices,” beamed Mr Bezos.
Amazon’s decision to undercut its rivals is partly a tactic designed to disrupt the tablet market, which is still dominated by the iPad. Gartner, a research firm, reckons that Apple’s device will account for almost three-quarters of the 64m tablets it thinks will be sold worldwide this year. Amazon’s pricing strategy also reflects one of the firm’s core beliefs, whichis that cheap stuff makes customers cheerful. Call it the Walmart of the web.