Amazon tablet – maybe tablets – set for fall release: report

The Amazon tablet is real, and it could hit shelves this year, according to one well-connected blogger. So what would an Amazon tablet mean for the market at large?

An Amazon tablet could arrive next month. Here, a user navigates to Amazon's German website on a different tablet, an iPad.

The Amazon tablet rumor has been kicking around for months, and for good reason: Amazon is one of the only companies with the marketing might and reach to compete directly with the iPad, which currently dominates the tablet market in the US and abroad. And tech journalists love nothing so much as a horse race. (With all due respect to Samsung, Motorola, and HP, right now, the race is soundly dominated by Apple.)

Today comes some of the most concrete evidence of the Amazon tablet to date: A report from MG Siegler at TechCrunch, who says he's not only seen the Amazon tablet, but he's played with the thing, too. "The device is a 7-inch tablet with a capacitive touch screen. It is multi-touch, but from what I saw, I believe the reports that it relies on a two-finger multi-touch (instead of 10-finger, like the iPad uses) are accurate," Siegler writes.

He claims that the Amazon tablet won't be called the Amazon tablet. Instead, it will be probably be called the Amazon Kindle, allowing Amazon to position the device as the natural successor to the Kindles of yore. But this Kindle will be quite different. "There is no e-ink to be found anywhere on this device," Siegler writes. For price conscious shoppers, the tag should also come as a happy surprise: $250, according to Siegler.

And the release date? As soon as November.

"Originally, Amazon had planned to launch a 7-inch and a 10-inch tablet at the same time," he writes. "But that plan changed this summer. Now they’re betting everything on the 7-inch. If it’s a hit, they will release the more expensive 10-inch tablet in Q1 2012." (The last iPad launched in March of 2011. If Apple keeps to its current schedule, and it probably will, the next iPhone would probably hit shortly after this Amazon tablet/Kindle. There's a horse race!)

Of course, as Tim Carmody points out over at Wired, Amazon may very well be producing a tablet, but the tablet sure won't be all of the story. With an "inexpensive, subsidized flagship tablet or tablets," Carmody points out, Amazon "could partner with other companies that offer Amazon-powered products tailored to different regions or with very clear differences in form factor, features and price." Sound familiar? It should.

The strategy, Carmody continues, would be "somewhat like the strategy Amazon has followed with e-books, where it sells the Kindle, but also apps on other platforms. But it would be very different from the Macintosh model Apple’s adopted for the iPad or the Windows model Google’s adopted for Android. Amazon wouldn’t be going big or going home, but going very long indeed." The new Amazon tablet, in other words, as a portal to a whole new Amazon ecosystem.

Sound about right? Drop us a line in the comments section. And in the meantime, for more tech news, sign up for the weekly BizTech newsletter, which ships every Wednesday.

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