AH Primetime: Do We Really Want $50 Tablets?

Yesterday, some interesting news came down the wire. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is looking to bring to market a $50 tablet. Now, at the time, next to nothing was revealed about the tablet other than it will come with a 6-inch display and a single speaker (as opposed to stereo speakers). To be fair, the use of a smallish display and a single speaker are not exactly going to be revelations and most consumers could probably have guessed this was likely to be the case, due to the low cost of the tablet to begin with. Just like, consumers could probably guess what other specs will come sported on a $50 tablet. In fact, this seemingly predictability of the specs raises the question, do we really want $50 tablets.

The headline itself, raises assumptions that Amazon is planning on bringing to market a tablet for everyone. Affordable to everyone and offering everyone a tablet experience. But in reality, how likely is that to be the case? Mobile device parts are not exactly cheap and not getting any cheaper, so although the price of this tablet is for everyone, surely the specs on board will instantly remove much of the market and the majority of consumers who are interested in tablets. What can you actually get for $50 these days? The reality is not very much. This tablet is unlikely to come sporting the type of specs one would hope for even on a budget tablet. Although, when you look at the bottom end of the Fire Tablet range at present, the $50 price quoted is not drastically different to what is available now, but it is different enough. Amazon currently sell the Fire HD 6 for $99 and this does come with a 6-inch HD display, 8GB RAM and a quad-core processor, but $50 is not $99 and if the same sliding scale of specs-per-cost ratio is in place, then one could presume the best you are hoping for is a 6-inch non-HD display, 4GB RAM and a very light working processor. That is, at best.

Amazon have already had a flop on their hands in the hardware department thanks to the Fire Phone, although, unlike this tablet, one of the reasons the Fire Phone failed was due to a seemingly astronomical price (for what you get). That said, another reason seen as a contributing factor to the Fire Phone's death on arrival was Amazon's tendency to lock their devices down to their own ecosystem. This is something that is never going to be welcomed in the Android world and the Fire Phone was a prime example of this. Therefore, although the $50 price of the tablet is the right price, if it comes locked down to Amazon's services (which it most likely will), would this not just be a clever move by Amazon to offer users a quick route to their products and services? Just like the Dash Buttons which offer users a quick route to buy Tide detergent or Hefty Bag refills directly from Amazon. Will the $50 tablet just be the same sort of shortcut to Prime Instant Video or to shopping on Amazon? Sell the tablet cheap and you create a shortcut to what you really want, more people buying your services and products.

If this is the case, then should we really be looking at the $50 tablet any differently to the Tide, Hefty or Finish Dash buttons? Is it really a groundbreaking product for the price? More importantly, if this is the case, do we even want a $50 tablet?

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About the Author

John Anon

John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]