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What Amazon's $50 Tablet Needs to Succeed

Fifty bucks. That's the price of a decent meal for two or a pair of new shoes. But if recent reports are true, it could buy you a new Amazon tablet.

Details are sparse, but sources familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that the new device will have a 6-inch screen and a mono speaker, rather than stereo. That's not a lot to go on, but at $50, we're not expecting the device to boast high-end guts.

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While Amazon has made a name for itself by making solid, durable tablets at an affordable price, it still needs to compete with the likes of Asus, Alcatel and Lenovo, who also make low-cost Android tablets.

What the Seattle-based online retail giant has going for it is its large family of services. If Amazon throws in a year's subscription to its Prime membership service ($99 a year) like it's done with its previous devices, that alone could make its new tablet well worth the money. The Prime subscription would include access to instant video streaming, Kindle books and free two-day shipping.

The new Amazon Underground app store also lets you download plenty of popular apps at no cost, as the company is paying developers to make them available for free. These freebies aren't exclusive to Amazon tablet owners, however.

Other Amazon devices have come with the company's Mayday tech support service, which lets you video chat with a customer service rep right from your tablet. The company's Fire Phone supports Firefly, an app that scans and identifies physical products and brings up the Amazon listing for it, when available, so you can buy it directly. Such a feature could be well suited to the rumored tablet, given its expected 6-inch size.

Online shopping or e-book fans may find the potential $50 tablet compelling, but we'll have to wait for more details before knowing for sure.