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. 

  • sunflier
    Ok look, I rip on Apple all the time but this is one fine example why Android tablets are barely making its way in the market. Its cheap-shots like this that gives iPad the advantage it has.
  • plznote

    Just when I though the Fire might burn the iPad.
  • 70camaross396
    I for one am actually looking forward to this tablet. I work with BlackBerry phones on a regular basis at my job and I must say I hate the blackberry OS. Android and WP7 are far superior to BB. hell even IOS is better that BB. When i first saw the Blackberry tablet, all I could think was how much better it would be with Android. Now it looks like i might get my wish.
  • dmk2000
    It looks like they would be better off by buying HP Touch Pad and get WebOs updated.
  • Does it pay to be an early adopter anymore? The older I get the more I see it's just better to wait for the 2nd or even 3rd edition of any new hardware/software. Sad if this turns out to be true tomorrow.
  • itpro
    OK, look at the market. On the one hand we have a slew of high end, high spec, high priced tablets sitting on shelves because most of us won't pay $600 for a tablet (Apple geeks excepted). On the other hand, we have the low end, low spec, and low priced Nook Color selling like hot cakes. Did anyone really expect Amazon to follow the so called "leaders" down the drain and come forth with a tablet that no one will buy? Amazon is pretty sharp at marketing.

    Besides, for what most will use a tablet for (reading, music, video, simple games, simple internet and email) one does not need high end hardware. What one needs is an ecosystem to make media consumption easy and inexpensive, and Amazon will provide that. Time will tell, but this might finally provide an alternative to the iPad that people will actually buy.
  • vic20
    Doesn't matter what it is made of. It just nice to be priced at a point most people expect is reasonable for a casual consumption device. Make it $250 and you have an iPad killer on your hands, even if its not as good. Android phones sell by the millions because you can get them on a contract for nothing. If they were all priced like iPhones from the start like they tried with tablets, they would be struggling now. When are they going to figure this out?
  • killerclick
    No big surprise, no Android device can touch iPad2 in terms of performance. Even Samsung's latest Galaxy Tab has jerky animation (both screen and camera) compared to iPad2, despite the latter's lower hardware spec. It's what you get with a customized in-house OS, same as consoles that perform far better than PCs with equivalent hardware.
  • jacobdrj
    This is my feeling as well... This will be a 1st gen product. Depending on it's success, and Amazon's concept, verses what the consumers want, this will not be a hot ticket item until the 2nd or even 3rd incarnation. At the 250 dollar price point, however, this is much more of a palpable risk for many potential users.

    Also, make no mistake, a HUGE reason for the success of the Apple iProducts was the pre-existing product ecosystem that was backwards compatible with the previous iProduct's success...

    The iPhone built heavily on the music, movies, and applications that first appeared in the iPod series. The iPad bult it's success on existing iPhone/iPod touch apps and the iTunes ecosystem...

    Amazon is the only other company I can think of that has a great existing ecosystem with an iTunes like foothold in a market (eBooks).

    I think Amazon will have a winner in about 2 years, and will succeed where all other android/WebOS tablets have failed, miserably...

  • thisisaname
    If it is going to be a cheap stopgap product do not bother.