72% of people who intend to buy a tablet, say they want an iPad. 

The November study, from consumer research agency Changewave, showed that of the 13 percent of respondents who said they would be in the market for a tablet over the holiday season, less than one third would consider an option other than an iPad. Apple's 72 percent share represents a 17-point jump since the agency's August survey, conducted before the introduction of Apple's new iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display.

There is no ambiguity about which tablet people want. But, there is often a great gulf between what people want, and what they can afford. That gulf is where the non-iPad, tablet market lives. Amazon has a new plan to capture that market that should put fear into the other, Android tablet competitors. 

AllThingsD reports that Amazon has launched a new plan that will allow Amazon shoppers to purchase a Kindle Fire HDX in 4, interest-free installments throughout the year. You can find the offer by clicking on this link. When you do, you will be taken to a page that looks a lot like this:

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I have highlighted what seems to me to be a series of the most desperate set of offers I have ever seen on a mainstream, shopping site. No interest, no finance charges, no hidden fees, no credit check or application required. This is the kind of offer you would expect from someone called, "Crazy Eddy". Except, Crazy Eddy would have the good sense to charge interest. Why, because Crazy Eddy wants to make money. That is clearly not a priority for Amazon. Also, this kind of offer only goes out to the kind of people who couldn't pass a credit check. 

It seems that Amazon is not really going after the people who can afford an iPad, but rather, they cry out:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

It is a beautiful idea, but a lousy model for retail. The tired, poor, huddled, wretched refuse of our teaming shores tend not to be good credit risks. They would happily pick up a tablet that they don't need, and can't afford, for a mere, $57. The real problem comes in three months when the next payment is due. Somewhat acknowledging this reality, Amazon included a few lines explaining what might happen to those who renege on their payments:

“Our remedies will include the right to deregister your Kindle Fire HDX device, which will block your ability to access Amazon content from your Kindle Fire HDX device.”

What they will not be doing is sending out repo agents to collect the tablets for which their customers did not finish paying. So, for $57, one could acquire a Kindle Fire HDX, root it, and have a perfectly good, Android tablet. That, of course, presumes that any Android tablet could be considered perfectly good. I am not recommending this plan of action. I can just see a lot of people attempting it. As with the villain from "Meet the Robinsons" I don't think Amazon thought this through.

The other thing they didn't quite think through is the plan to make money on after-market, media purchases from people who couldn't afford to pay full price for a budget tablet in the first place. Budget purchasers are not good candidates for after-market sales. These are the same people who think 99¢ is too much to pay for a great app, and who use Pirate Bay more than iTunes for music and movies. Trust me; I'm not judging, just observing. If iPad buyers never purchased anything from iTunes, Apple has still made money. Not so with buyers of the Kindle Fire HDX.

I can understand why competitors my feel a little desperate in the face of the iPad juggernaut. But this seems a little too desperate, even by Amazon standards. At what point will Amazon's shareholders insist that the company start making a real profit? At what point will competitors start realizing that marketshare without profit is meaningless, and does not represent any "real" competition for Apple? Maybe never. But the machinations of these companies are starting to get really entertaining.

David Johnson