Print 32 comment(s) - last by Red Jenny.. on Sep 19 at 11:35 PM's new layout (bottom) is more tablet-friendly than the old one (top).  (Source: Stuart Lawder via TechCrunch)

The Amazon Kindle helped launch the tablet craze, with a highly successful debut over two years before the iPad.  (Source: Amazon via SlashGear) is busy with a webpage design to prepare for its new tablet

When it comes to making electronics,, Inc. (AMZN), like Google, Inc. (GOOG), seems an unlikely candidate given that its core business is internet based and not directly related to hardware making. debuted the first successful e-reader, with the Kindle in November 2007.

I. Amazon's New Tablet OS

Now following 
months of rumors, a company that shaped the tablet revolution is revamping its veteran brand with a new tablet that features significant departures from its current lineup.

A detailed description of the device is at last available, 
thanks to TechCrunch, who viewed a near-production prototype.

Gone is the proprietary barebones eBook-centric operating system.  In its place is Google's Android operating system (there were some previous signs that pointed to this possibility, namely's 
recently launched third party app store, Appstore for Android).

The new tablet will retail for $250 USD -- a psychologically significant price in that it matches Barnes & Noble, Inc.'s (
BKS) Android-powered Nook Color and, further, is half the entry-level cost of an iPad.

While the device reportedly looks much like Research in Motion, Ltd.'s (
TSE:RIM) BlackBerry PlayBook, it will look quite foreign to those familiar with Android tablets. has forked its own version of Android from a version prior to Android 2.2 "Froyo", and has taken to radically customizing it.  

The result is that Amazon has essentially built its own operating system.  It plans to maintain this operating system, building in its own useful features and staying abreast of changes in the Google codebase, occasionally injecting useful source from the main Android line.  However, updates will come from Amazon directly -- users will not get access to upcoming Android builds like "Ice Cream Sandwich".

The basic layout includes a middle-of-the-screen element that looks like the "Cover Flow" in iTunes.  Users can scroll through all their content (apps, music, books, movies, etc.) and drag their favorites down to a dock at the bottom of the screen.  Above that dock is a notification tray with the battery and wireless internet indicators and notifications for app/OS updates.  At the top is yet another bar with the name of the device and other details.  TechCrunch claims the modified GUI looks very good, compared to the stock Android Honeycomb.

A tabbed web browser is included.  The device has full access to the Kindle Books catalog (of course) and gets apps solely through Amazon Appstore for Android.

II. The Hardware

Gone is E Ink, the energy-savvy display technology.  In its place is a 2-finger capable multi-touch capacitive, backlit 7-inch display, according to TechCrunch who spent time with a prototype.  Note this multi-touch is less sensitive than Apple's 10-finger capable design, although relatively few iOS apps manage to fully utilize multi-finger touch.

The device features no (!) physical face buttons (we suppose this means that Apple 
can't sue Amazon).  It comes with a single-core processor, making it less powerful than most Android tablets, but helping to keep the price in check.  The device also only has 6 GB of flash storage, as it's intended to use the cloud to access music and movies.  An SD slot is rumored, though TechCrunch said it didn't see it on the prototype.

The device will initially launch solely with Wi-Fi support.  It features a rubbery back and comes with speakers, but no camera.

III. Launch and the Future

TechCrunch also noted that Amazon was trialing a new webpage layout over the weekend, which blogger Sarah Perez 
writes, "practically scream 'tablet-optimized."

an email to Reuters, company spokeswoman Sally Fouts confirms the design launched in the final week of office, adding, "We are continuing to roll out the new design to additional customers, but I can't speculate on when the new design will be live for everyone."

One sweet feature of the new tablet is that it will come with a free subscription to Prime -- typically an $80 USD/year service.  This will give you free two-day shipping on items, something surely hopes increases both impulse and regular shopping.  And the service has the added perk of offering 9,000+ free streaming movies to users.

The tablet will reportedly launch in November and has analysts buzzing, despite the packed market.  Forrester Research says that it 
may sell 5 million units in Q4 2011, given its bargain price and strong brand name.

Looking ahead to the future, is reportedly preparing a 10-inch design for a Q1 2012 launch.  That design will reportedly include a dual-core processor. is reportedly in talks with U.S. wireless carriers to explore the possibility of cellular modem-equipped (3G or better) variants for 2012 launches. is also reportedly working on a hybrid E-Ink/multi-touch screen device (perhaps two sided?), but TechCrunch warns, "[T]hat's nowhere near completion, I'm told."

While Apple has certainly stolen the thunder of when it comes to tablets, it should be interesting to see if one of the field's founding fathers can return triumphantly to the market it helped launch.

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By TakinYourPoints on 9/5/2011 3:42:48 PM , Rating: 2
The fact that Amazon is forking off their own version of Android is one of many reasons why they will succeed.

Motorola, Samsung, etc, have all failed horribly against the iPad partly because they are terrible at making consumer devices from top to bottom (look at their pre-iOS/Android phone UIs), and Google has given them a very poor platform to work off of with Honeycomb.

Amazon will succeed because, like Apple, they understand making devices that anyone can use. The Kindle ebook reader is A+. Things like Whispernet cloud syncing worked perfectly from the very beginning. It is so simple to use that a 70 year old can start using it immediately with no problems. Like Apple's iTunes and App Store, they also sell all sorts of digital media from books to movies to music to (!!!) tablet applications. It can't be emphasized enough how important a fully integrated and easy to use digital storefront is.

They'll offer what nobody else aside from Apple is at the moment, a purpose-built and integrated product with primary focus on usability. I'm still not sold on a 7" tablet, but a 10" Kindle tablet with a Tegra 3 will be very cool, and unlike the other Android disasters it should actually sell.

By kmmatney on 9/6/2011 11:38:32 AM , Rating: 2
The Nook also uses it's own version of Android, and is also a purpose-built device with integrated storefront. I'm not sure how this will be much different, except for the fact that Amazon is bigger than Barnes and Noble.

By Netscorer on 9/6/2011 12:25:57 PM , Rating: 2
You are absolutely right. What we are facing with this Amazon tablet is further segregation of Android platform which Amazon tablet is inevitably going to be associated with. They even call their app marketplace as Appstore for Android. For the users who want a simple reader that can also do Email and light browsing, Nook Color already exists and does it perfectly. For users who want full Android experience, this new tablet is going to be a major disappointment, because even rooted, it will lack some of the basic tablet features, such as camera, Bluetooth, GPS, and god knows what else Amazon chooses to omit to contain price.
Amazon will still sell plenty of these tablets but they will not compete with Apple. Not with what they are planning to release anyway.

By TakinYourPoints on 9/6/2011 4:09:19 PM , Rating: 2
Amazon sells more than just books, they also sell movies, music, and Android applications. They also have a lot of backend services for customers and businesses, cloud services, etc etc.

Amazon is a much much more tech oriented company than Barnes & Noble, so it is a pretty massive difference in capability there.

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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