Amazon.com’s Android tablet has been rumored for some time, and is expected later this year. The latest report was that the expected-to-be-7-inch tablet would be priced at , and that, and other details now appear to be confirmed.
However, it’s not going to be what many expected, which is to say a general purpose Android tablet that might be the first to make a real impact against the iPad. It won’t even be a new brand. Instead it will be called the “Amazon Kindle.”
Instead, although the platform’s underpinnings stem from Android, Amazon.com has forked the code from Android, and probably won’t be going back. What’s on the device doesn’t look like Android, and it doesn’t use the Android Market, either. Instead, as we theorized long ago, it will use the Amazon Appstore, which explains why Amazon.com created the market in the first place.
It’s believed the OS was forked from a version of Android prior to Froyo (2.2). Amazon.com will continue to build on its code.
Although earlier Amazon.com planned to have both 7- and 10-inch tablets ready for this year, they’ve had to alter those plans, and will be shipping the 10-inch version in Q1 of 2012.
Right now, the schedule calls for the Amazon Kindle tablet to ship at the end of November. That might put it right around Thanksgiving, in fact, perfect for Black Friday sales.
Testing of the device seems to point to confirmation that Amazon.com has opted for a two-finger multi-touch screen, as was rumored earlier, to keep costs down.
And that cost will be about $250, which puts it in the same price range as Barnes and Noble’s nook Color Tablet. What about e-ink? There will continue to be e-ink Kindles, as was previously rumored. Those will be positioned on the low-end, though.
Amazon.com is also working on a multi-touch screen / e-ink hybrid tablet device, which would be similar to the nook Simple Touoh Reader. That, however, is not yet near completion.
Amazon.com will leverage its Amazon Prime service to attract users to the Kindle tablet. It was theorized way back in February of 2010 that Amazon Prime members might get a free Kindle, to increase Kindle adoption Instead, it’s going the other way: Kindle tablet owners will get a free year of Amazon Prime. That’s a $79 savings for Amazon.com’s popular service, which gives members free two-day shipping and Amazon Instant Video viewing, as well.
We assume that if a buyer already subscribes to Amazon Prime he will see a refund.
There have been no pictures leaked — yet. However, the Kindle tablet has been described as very similar to the BlackBerry PlayBook (pictured). Amazon.com will hope the legacy of poor PlayBook sales won’t affect the Kindle tablet.
We see one problem with this plan: if Amazon.com never goes back and re-merges code to its forked source for its own platform, it’s going to start seeing compatibility issues with Android apps that run on updated Android versions, like Ice Cream Sandwich, say.
It’s the same sort of thing that is experienced with the so-called Android fragmentation. But it will be even worse, since Amazon’s platform is forked from something pre-Froyo.
Because of that, although the report theorizes that users may never see Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich, we believe they will, at least underneath the top U.I. layer. Otherwise, developers entering the Amazon Appstore will have a huge recoding effort.
Will it be successful? With all that Amazon.com will throw at consumers, and the pre-existing excitement, yes, it probably will. We were much more excited when we believed it to be a general Android tablet, not one with a forked OS, though.
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