Kantar Retail's Stephen Mader looks at the tablet market in the run up to Christmas

Tablet Wars: What’s the motivation?

Stephen Mader takes a look at Argos’ new tablet offering and whether it can differentiate itself from others on the market.

In The run-up to Christmas 2013, we’re seeing a handful of UK retailers launching private label tablets in the hopes of catering to shoppers looking for an affordable luxury to use themselves or, more likely, to give as a gift to friends and family.

We’ve seen Tesco launch Hudl and Argos launch MyTablet, both priced competitively at around £100, and both providing a slightly cheaper alternative to Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

When looking at the implications to your business – whether you’re a retailer competing with Tesco/Argos/Amazon, or a consumer electronics supplier – it is important to understand the individual motivation behind each of these offerings.

Amazon’s strategy behind the Kindle Fire is to position it as a physical manifestation of Amazon’s digital content ecosystem. The Kindle Fire is a portable portal for Amazon shoppers to access all of the digital content they have locked within Amazon. The more Kindle Fires that are sold, the more Amazon digital content is likely to be purchased – a fantastic reinforcing loop that continues to drive Amazon’s content strategy.

Tesco is following the same content strategy as Amazon. They are able to do this via BlinkBox and ClubCard TV, their digital content platform. Tesco will have an uphill battle if they plan to square off against Amazon. They will need to leverage their physical store base by being significantly more aggressive – for example, by including BlinkBox vouchers and content in their promotions in order to drive adoption of the service.

This leaves the question of Argos, or any other retailer that launches a private label tablet that does not have the content backbone to support and differentiate it. I question the longevity of such a product beyond a tactical margin play for cash strapped shoppers.

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