Amazon has been rumored to be working on a tablet version of the Kindle for some time now and we can now say with certainty that it’s 100% real and is coming sooner rather than later. While initial reports claimed Amazon was working on a family of Android-based tablets in time for a 2011 holiday launch, it now appears that Amazon is betting the farm, initially, on a 7-inch color tablet with an ultra-competitive pricepoint.
How do we know?
Well, MG Siegler of TechCrunch actually got to use one and he gives us all the dirty details about Amazon’s upcoming tablet offering. In short, in a field where iPad competitors have fallen completely flat, Amazon is looking to inject some spice and competition into an otherwise boring and flat playing field.
According to Siegler, Amazon’s tablet won’t be called a ‘tablet’ at all. Rather, it will simply be called the “Amazon Kindle”.
The device, complete with a full color screen, will sport a 7-inch screen and will have a form factor much like the RIM PlayBook. It’ll have a capacitive touchscreen but as opposed to Apple’s support for 10-finger input, the Amazon Kindle will only support two-finger multitouch. It’ll be back-lit with no e-ink in sight.
As for the device’s killer feature? Well, that may very well be its price. Amazon is planning to price the Kindle at $250. That’s a solid $150 less than the base model iPad, and given the prime piece of real estate that is the Amazon homepage, Amazon is in a better position than any other company to sell a shit ton of tablets.
As previously reported, the Amazon Kindle will run Android, though Siegler notes the UI will look like nothing you’ve ever seen before on an Android device.
The interface is all Amazon and Kindle. It’s black, dark blue, and a bunch of orange. The main screen is a carousel that looks like Cover Flow in iTunes which displays all the content you have on the device. This includes books, apps, movies, etc. Below the main carousel is a dock to pin your favorite items in one easy-to-access place. When you turn the device horizontally, the dock disappears below the fold.
Above the dock is the status bar (time, battery, etc) and this doubles as a notification tray. When apps have updates, or when new subscriptions are ready for you to view, they appear here. The top bar shows “YOUR NAME’s Kindle” and then the number of notifications you have in bright orange. It looks quite nice.
There are no physical buttons on the surface of the device. You bring up a lower navigation menu by tapping the screen once. This can take you back home, etc.
As we’ve discussed before, what puts Amazon in a better position to compete with Apple’s iPad is its content. Whereas downloading apps and media like movies, music, and TV shows from Android devices is clunky and wanting, Amazon’s bread and butter is in content delivery and their integrated content store on the upcoming Kindle will be a key selling point for the device.
Google’s Android Market is nowhere to be found. In fact, no Google app is anywhere to be found. This is Android fully forked. My understanding is that the Kindle OS was built on top of some version of Android prior to 2.2. And Amazon will keep building on top of that of that over time. In other words, this won’t be getting “Honeycomb” or “Ice Cream Sandwich” — or if it does, users will never know it because that will only be the underpinnings of the OS. Any visual changes will be all Amazon.
Some other tidbits worth mentioning
– Angry Birds may come bundled
– Hardware wise, the device runs on a single-core chip
– It has 6GB of internal storage (eek!)
– First iteration will be wi-fi only
– It has no camera
– Buyers may be given a free subscription to Amazon Prime
– The e-ink based Kindle will continue to exist
– Amazon is also working on a hybrid multitouch/e-ink tablet but it’s nowhere near completion just yet