A Wall Street Journal report has it that Amazon will release an Android-powered iPad competitor in October
Amazon plans on releasing an Android-powered tablet in October, according to unnamed sources speaking to The Wall Street Journal. If proven accurate, that would fulfill longstanding rumours about the online retailer’s plans to produce such a device.
As noted in the WSJ’s 13 July report, the tablet will have a nine-inch screen but lack a camera, and offer users access to Amazon’s extensive collection of media. In addition, the company will release “two updated versions of its popular Kindle electronic reader in the third quarter of this year”.
Rumours have circulated for months about an Amazon tablet, which would compete against Apple’s iPad franchise and a growing number of touch-screen devices powered by Google Android.
“Amazon could create a compelling Android- or Linux-based tablet offering easy access to Amazon’s storefront… and unique Amazon features like one-click purchasing, Amazon Prime service, and its recommendation engine,” Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps wrote in a March blog posting, soon after the first rumours of such a tablet began to emerge. “More consumers considering buying a tablet say that they would consider Amazon (24 percent) than Motorola (18 percent).”
In May, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said he believed Amazon could sell 2.4 million Android tablets in 2012, following a late 2011 launch in time for the holidays. A few weeks later, during a 7 June Amazon shareholders meeting, Bezos told the audience he was excited about tablets’ potential for his company’s business.
“Most of our customers shop with us from desktop or laptop computers, but people have a different posture with tablets,” he said, according to a report published by GeekWire. With tablets, they “lean back on their sofa. People leaning back on their sofa, buying things from Amazon, is another tailwind for our business, so I’m very excited about that.”
Despite that growing buzz around a tablet, Amazon has so far seemed more concerned with issuing new versions of its popular Kindle e-reader. On 13 July, the retailer began offering an ad-supported version of the Kindle 3G for $139 (£86), a price-point apparently achieved thanks to corporate sponsorship from AT&T.
Amazon also offers a Wi-Fi-only, ad-supported Kindle for $114. The devices include sponsored screensavers; early sponsors included Buick, Chase, Olay and Visa. Although Amazon likes to keep mum on actual Kindle sales numbers – a long-running company habit – the Kindle with Special Offers’ prominent position on the retailer’s bestseller list suggests that people are willing to sit through ads in exchange for a lower price.
Despite its dominant presence in the e-reader market, the Kindle franchise nonetheless faces significant competition on a number of fronts. E-book applications for the iPad and Google Android have threatened to make tablets and smartphones, by virtue of their multitasking capabilities, a more attractive option for consumers. Barnes & Noble, meanwhile, continues to push forward with hardware and software updates to its Nook e-reader.