Report: Amazon Tablet Really PlayBook in Disguise

On Wednesday, Amazon is expected to revealed its Kindle Fire Android-based tablet that will run a customized version of Google's OS. Previous hands-on reports have stated that it will feature a 7-inch screen and look similar to RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. But now news has surfaced that the Amazon gadget looks like RIM's tablet for a good reason: because it basically is the PlayBook, only without the BlackBerry OS.

According to gdgt, RIM originally outsourced much of the hardware design and production of the PlayBook to Quanta, an ODM that builds and helps design hardware for name brands. When it came time to design and build the post-NOOK Color Android tablet prototype, Amazon's Kindle group (aka Lab 126) opted out of the project to solely work on E-Ink based devices. Determined to produce an Android tablet, Amazon thus turned to Quanta for help.

See where this is going? Apparently to save time on the development process, Quanta offered Amazon the PlayBook hardware as a template. But sources claim that Amazon ran into trouble during the process, and was forced to make sacrifices in the spec list including using a slower SoC. The resulting device is reportedly "pretty poor" and a "stopgap" in order to get a tablet out the door before the 2011 holiday season.

But as pointed out, the original Kindle wasn't all that great compared to the later models. Building on that, Industry sources claim that Amazon pushed this Android tablet out so quickly because it wants to get its foothold in the mainstream tablet market, and that the Kindle Fire won't really heat up the market until the second-generation tablet arrives in a possible Q1 2012 window. Unnamed sources even report that this second-generation Kindle Fire tablet will be Amazon's flagship product, the device Amazon "really believes in."

It's probably safe to assume that any second-generation tablet will depend on the success of the original Kindle Fire product. If it doesn't sell well, then Amazon may either push on and try again with a meatier, more expensive product as sources indicate, or follow HP and jump ship just after a one-tablet release. It should be noted however that HP said it wasn't leaving the tablet business, it just wasn't continuing on with webOS-based tablet production.

Still, a "pretty poor" "stopgap" Android tablet doesn't sound promising for Amazon and the 2011 holiday season. Guess we'll find out tomorrow...

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more.