Amazon's unveiling of a Kindle tablet would shake up the industry and pose one of the biggest threats to the Apple iPad -- which is why the technology world has its eyes on the online retailer as it prepares for a media gathering in New York this week ahead of the holiday season.
The iPad is still expected to maintain its dominance, as it will account for nearly 75 percent of the tablets sold this year. But the Kindle tablet could start a new era that beckons a major slugfest between not just Amazon and Apple, but also with other big players like Samsung and Motorola.
Amazon has brand recognition, a bevy of existing loyal Kindle e-reader owners, and a Web-based e-commerce platform that includes one-click access to buying e-books, movies, digital music downloads, its own Android app store, and streaming media catalog. That adds up to Amazon being uniquely suited to go head-to-head with Apple in the tablet market and being a formidable competitor across the industry.
Wednesday could be the day, as Amazon has scheduled a news conference. Forrester estimates that an Amazon tablet could sell between 3 million and 5 million units by the end of the year.
While it borrows the name of the Amazon e-reader, the Kindle tablet is believed to be much more than just color upgrade to Amazon's popular e-book reader, the Kindle. It's expected to be a customized version of an Android-based tablet, more recognizable to an iPad or Motorola Xoom than a limited function e-book reader.
Here's a primer on what the Amazon Kindle tablet will look like and the competition it will spark.
Tracking Down the Amazon Kindle Tablet
Rumors have circulated for months that Amazon is developing a tablet, and recently one reporter confirmed its existence and wrote of his hands-on experience working with a pre-production test unit.
TechCrunch's MG Siegler says he has seen and touched a prototype of the Amazon Kindle tablet. He says the tablet is Android at heart, but distinctively Amazon in its implementation. Amazon has taken the open source Android OS and developed its own custom skin for the OS -- creating a user interface that mimics the ubiquitous Kindle motif with its dark blue, black, and orange color scheme.
Siegler claims the Kindle tablet unit he worked with has a 7-inch display. Multiple sources -- including Siegler -- report that Amazon will also offer a 10-inch model of the Kindle tablet, but not until after the 2011 holiday season. Siegler also confirms that Amazon will offer the Kindle tablet for $250 -- half of the entry level cost for an iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, and Motorola Xoom. Even among its 7-inch cousins, the Kindle tablet will be competitively priced at $250.
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