The Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) tablet has been officially unveiled, largely confirming most pre-release speculation. Will it dethrone Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) and its dominant iPad? Whether you think the Kindle Fire is going to be a major player or just another also-ran in the Android tablet sphere, its attractive price point alone should shake up the market. It's easy to focus on hardware market share, but what if that's not Amazon's first priority? What if, instead, Amazon has identified a nascent trend in online shopping and is positioning itself to take home the lion's share of its spoils?
Click, click, buy
The Kindle Fire has been called an iPad killer and (slightly less often) a Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) killer. But it might become an eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY ) killer as well. Amazon's sales have increased tenfold, and eBay's elevenfold, in the past decade. However, Amazon has poured on the growth since 2008, while eBay seems comparatively stuck in place. One of these companies is positioning itself to take over mobile shopping, and one is not. You already know which one I'm talking about.
Shoppers are becoming more mobile, and tablets are fast becoming the storefront of choice. A recent Wall Street Journal piece offers a few intriguing figures:
- The conversion rate (how many e-commerce site visitors will order something) is higher on tablets. PCs convert about 3% of visitors to buyers, but tablet visitors have 5% conversion rates. That's 20,000 more buyers out of every 1 million visitors.
- Tablet users might have an order worth 20% more than a comparable PC or smartphone buyer.
- The U.S. e-commerce market was worth $150 billion last year, but mobile users accounted for only 3% of the total.
- Of the 9% of online shoppers who own a tablet, about half use the device to shop online. Imagine how much higher this figure could be if Amazon's device gains broad acceptance.
Your one-stop shop
The trend toward mobile shopping is one that will be important to Amazon's bottom line, and I believe that is one major reason the company is pushing so hard to make its tablet competitive. Amazon has already redesigned its homepage to take advantage of tablet-scale interfaces. Unless e-commerce competitors eBay and Overstock.com (Nasdaq: OSTK ) convince tablet manufacturers to preload their apps, expect a gradual slide into mediocrity and irrelevance.
What about Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS ) ? Well, it was nice knowing you.
The battle isn't over yet, so why not add these companies to your watchlist? There's bound to be a flood of important news between now and the Nov. 15 release date.