The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon plans to launch its tablet by October, citing people "familiar with the matter." The online retail giant is hoping that customers will use the device to buy and rent content previously obtained from the site through desktops and laptops. Naturally Amazon has refrained from commenting on the report.
The paper claims that the tablet will sport a touchscreen somewhere around 9-inches but surprisingly won't include a camera. Given that the OS of choice will be Google's Android, it's likely that Amazon's Appstore, Kindle, Cloud Player (MP3) and Shopping apps will take center stage – maybe even integrated into a customized OS --while Google's competing Android Market may not even appear on the device at all.
Sources claim that Amazon isn't designing the initial tablet itself, and has outsourced production to an Asian manufacturer. Another version is reportedly in the works as well, this one designed in-house, which may hit retail shelves sometime in 2012.
So far the company is still trying to figure out how to market the device without killing off its current Kindle line. Amazon plans to launch two new versions of its popular Kindle e-reader device alongside the Android tablet, one of which will feature a touchscreen. That said, Amazon may market the tablet much like Barnes & Noble markets the NOOK Color, and without a camera, it's possible the Amazon tablet will have similar specs and functionality.
As if setting the stage for the upcoming tablet, on Monday Amazon launched a Digital Bonus program that gives customers $15 worth of Amazon credit for those who purchase an Android device through Amazon. The credits can be used to purchase apps, music and digital books directly from Amazon. The promotion is intended to make Amazon a one-stop Android shop instead of Google, apps included.
An analyst from Forrester Research told the Wall Street Journal that Amazon is in a better position than other Android tablet manufacturers to take on Apple based on the company's already-established digital media store. Amazon launched a video streaming service in February, an Android Appstore in March, a music storage and streaming service in June, and just recently slapped Apple in the face by offering Lady Gaga's new album for $0.99.
The drawback with Amazon is that it doesn't have any brick-and-mortar stores – it relies completely on the internet and participating retailers like Best Buy and Walmart. But given that the Kindle became so popular so quick, gaining the same notoriety with the new tablet shouldn't be much of a problem. The Forrester analyst also noted that the tablet won't be able to compete with the iPad 2 on hardware sophistication, that it may be less refined.
Still, for those looking for a cheaper alternative with a "compelling experience in terms of both content and shopping," the Amazon tablet may be the one to stand out amongst all other solutions provided by Asus, Acer, HP, Sony, Motorola and even Samsung. Guess we'll find out come October.