Last week was one of significant tablet talk, as two providers occupying two very different positions in the market revealed interesting new ventures.
The newcomers (some say latecomers) to the game are Tesco, who unveiled their Hudl tablet, a 7 inch, 16gb offering that marks Tesco’s attempts to extend its reach into the heart of the digital market.
At a price point of £119 it stacks up favourably, even more so when you consider that Tesco are offering the device to their Reward Card customers for just £60 worth of their loyalty points.
Tesco chief executive Phil Clarke said at the time of the launch that their aim was to ‘help widen tablet ownership and bring the fun, convenience and excitement of tablets to even more customers.’
Casting the platitudes aside, the real reason is undoubtedly a bid from the same kind of supremacy in the digital world that they enjoy in the retail sector.
They may find it not so easy to attain.
The return rate of ‘disappointing’ tablets is notoriously high, the excuse invariably given is that the customer wanted, and expected, iPad performance at around half the price. The Hudl’s attractive price point will mean very little if the interface simply leaves even more customers making that regretful trip to the returns desk.
But the second big move in the market that week took major steps to address this trend.
Amazon unveiled its latest Kindle Fire, the HDX available in 7 and 8.9 inch formats. Significantly faster and lighter than their predecessors, the HDX boast all the enhancements one would expect, from reduced glare and improved brightness to dynamic image contrast.
But most significantly was the introduction of Mayday, a real time video tech support offering that allows users to gain round the clock video instruction from the help team (within an impressive, though possibly ambitious, proposed response time of 15 seconds or less).
Despite a few grumblings about the security concerns of handing over control of the tablet to a third party, the innovation is targeted at ensuring HDX owners are given every opportunity to understand, enjoy (and ultimately, keep) the tablet.
The Amazon business approach for their tablets has always been to compromise profits for the actual hardware and concentrate on monetising the platform itself, something they largely achieve through their Kindle ebooks, Prime Instant Videos and 100,000 plus apps.
In a fairly rare interview form Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos with The Verge, he was keen to underline the massive strides that area of his business had made. It’s been just two years since the first Amazon tablets and Bezos remarked at the ‘unbelievable speed’ at which his team were innovating.
And with Amazon occupying 22% of the entire tablet market last year it seems he may have a point. It also seems that Tesco have a lot of catching up to do if they want to gain a significant share of the spoils.