TechCrunch writer MG Siegler has seen and played with the new Amazon tablet which, he says, is called simply “Amazon Kindle”. It’s a 7-in device with capacitive touch screen and runs a customised version of Android with an Amazon front-end:
- Very similar in form factor to the BlackBerry PlayBook, rubber-feel back
- Initially wi-fi only (3G and larger 10-in tablet to follow)
- Two-finger multi-touch instead of iPad-like 10-finger
- Amazon-themed interface, black, dark blue and some orange
- Main screen using Cover Flow-style carousel
- No physical buttons
- Deep integration with Amazon store, Kindle, Cloud Player, Instant Video Player
- Browser similar to Amazon’s WebKit
- No camera
- Likely to include free subscription to Amazon Prime (worth $79 a year)
- Will co-exist with existing low-end e-ink Kindle Reader
- Price tag of $250
- Available later in the year, possibly November
To me, this sounds like a winning device for Amazon. I’ve said before that Amazon, with its eco-system and its deep consumer penetration, is the one company that can currently offer serious competition to Apple. Where Apple has its high-street retail stores, Amazon has its pre-eminent on-line retail store. It also has an Apple-like reputation for reliability, customer service and attention to detail. If the new Kindle Tablet is as good as Siegler believes, it will sell in huge numbers.
The 7-in screen size is interesting because, if you remember, it was Steve Jobs who said that a seven-inch tablet would never succeed. You would need sharpened fingers to operate it, he said (while completely forgetting that the iPhone works well with podgy digits). Although I love my iPad 2, I do find it a bit on the big side. I could imagine being very satisfied with a 7-in tablet and I am sure that millions of consumers will take a similar view.
Even at $500, such a device could offer serious competition for Apple. But if Siegler is right in his pricing estimate of $250, half the cost of the basic iPad, I cannot see where Amazon can go wrong. I’d buy one, just for the experience.