It’s the question that won’t go away – but some technology pundits think they see more clues. Just yesterday Amazon updated its “Kindle for Android” app so it works better on the tablet-shaped computers that compete with Apple’s iPad. “The update adds a new integrated shopping experience designed specifically for tablets,” reported PC Magazine, and Amazon has also added a new tablet-shaped layout for newspapers and magazines, “and other upgrades that take advantage of the larger screen.”
Now another article at PC Magazine asks, “Is Amazon preparing to launch an Android tablet?” And they cite the predictions of Peter Rojas, the co-founder of two of the top technology blogs — Gizmodo and Engadget. “It’s something of an open secret that Amazon is working on an Android tablet,” Rojas writes, “and I am 99% certain they are having Samsung build one for them.” He seems like he could have some inside information, especially since Gizmodo is one of the ten most-popular technology blogs on the Kindle, and one of the Kindle’s top 30 best-selling blogs.
Rojas believes Amazon has assembled everything they need to stock a tablet with popular content, including music downloads, video, and now even an app store. And easy shopping could help Amazon subsidize the costs of their new device, making them even cheaper to sell. “Amazon understands what’s at stake,” Rojas believes, adding “they have shown with the Kindle that they can produce a great product and then expertly tie that product into a content platform.” Rojas estimates that Amazons new tablet-sized device would be released as soon as this summer. “They have all the pieces in place, now we wait to see what they do with them.”
And PC Magazine suggests another interesting possibility. Last week Amazon released a cheaper, ad-supported version of the Kindle, even though “Amazon doesn’t need to lure people further; the Kindle is Amazon’s best-selling device of all time.” Their reporter suggests this may be the first stage of a plan to attract advertisers for other devices. “If Amazon subsidized a tablet with advertising, it might be able to sell the device at a cheaper, more competitive price.”
“It’s obvious from Amazon’s most recent moves that the company is moving toward Android,” the magazine concludes, “and everything else the company has done lately matches perfectly with a coming launch of a tablet device…. The tablet’s place is ready; now all Amazon needs is an actual product.”
It’s a theory that’s been echoed by others, including the creator of the bookmarking site InstaPaper. But there’s even support for an Amazon tablet within the community of technology experts. Last month, Forrester Research concluded that it was Amazon which had the best chance of competing with Apple’s iPad. (“[W]e see a market that’s ripe for disruption,” wrote analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, adding “by Amazon in particular.”) Surveys showed that 24% of consumers would consider purchasing an Amazon tablet, versus just 18% who said the same thing about Motorola. And 28% even said they’d prefer to buy a tablet-sized computer from Amazon rather than a phone company.
It an idea that seems to make a lot of sense. (If Apple insists on a cut of any e-book sales that happen on an IPad, Amazon could simply start selling their own competing tablet-sized device!) But it’s hard to predict the future, especially with different pundits offering so many exciting what-if scenarios. For example, Monday eWeek tracked down an analyst at Gartner who said he still prefers an even juicier rumor about how the next Kindle will be sold.
“It is more likely that Amazon will make the Kindle free to Amazon Prime subscribers and then make their money selling ebooks!”