Even iPad 1 Will Beat Android Tablets Until Prices Fall To Kindle Levels

New research underscores how Android tablet makers are struggling to replicate their smartphone success – but suggests Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) could be the one to make a go on price…

YouGov’s TabletTrack of UK consumers prepared to buy a tablet device found overwhelming sentiment toward iPad 2. Even iPad 1 beats out the nearest rival, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab. Together, Samsung, HTC, BlackBerry and Acer are the preferred devices for only a combined 14 percent of prospective tablet buyers.

(NB. Nearly half of survey respondents were already tablet owners – suggesting a pre-existing propensity toward Apple’s tablet, which went on sale in mid-2010).

How can the stragglers break through? On price, reckons YouGov, which makes this confident prediction on Amazon’s Kindle Fire: “With this audacious and incendiary move, potentially eliminate all comers to create a two-horse race between Amazon and Apple.

£250 ($387.59) is the price point where the tablet market will take off. Tablets will fail to be a mass market product until the price comes down to this price point. But, given Amazon’s US launch price for its Kindle Fire at $199 (£128.36) versus the iPad2 at $499, (£321.86) we can only expect the same pricing differential in the UK and other global markets.”

“This is the mountain Android-based tablets need to climb,” says YouGov’s associate technology and telecoms consultant Russell Feldman. “But, by launching a rival ecosystem at an extremely competitive price, Amazon is likely to make a rapid approach to the summit, at the expense not necessarily of Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), but of its rival Android stable mates.”

HP’s sell-out Touchpad fire sale, in which the defunct devices were sold at £89 ($137.99) and $99, (£63.86) is further proof that consumers will snap up cheaper tablets, even if they are not iPads.

Android tablet makers are already saving licensing money on the free OS. To meet the research’s conclusions, they will need to push their hardware suppliers hard to find further savings.