TechCrunch outlined a mid-November timeframe for what it calls the “Kindle Fire” tablet, but analyst Ming-Chi Kuo disputes that, claiming that the launch will be squeezed in before the end of this month. Kuo also lets out a few more details about the device (codenamed “Hollywood”). The tablet is expected to arrive sans camera, GPS or 3G, and the analyst adds that it will have a Texas Instruments OMAP 3 processor, 512MB of RAM, and older Android firmware (though other reports seem to peg a customized version of Android). It will also be produced by Quanta, he says.
But that’s not the only piece of the puzzle that he takes aim at — the other is price. TechCrunch believes the tablet will go for $250, but Kuo says it could be even less. Sure, the device costs $180 in materials, but Amazon could aggressively price this to build out some solid launch numbers. In fact, he does not rule out a low $199.
So we’re looking at an inexpensive gadget with middling specs. And yet somehow, Kuo believes sales for the Amazon tablet will do well. He estimates that 3 million devices will ship by year’s end.
Why? Well, we have our own theory on that: A price that lowers the barrier to entry for mainstream users is only one factor. Customers also get Amazon Prime for free, plus a fairly robust (though still developing) eco-system that includes apps, streaming video and cloud features. This would give average end users a cohesive experience, while offering budget-conscious advanced users an opportunity to play with (read: hack/root) an Android tablet for a bargain price. (*cough* Nook *cough*)
If Amazon succeeds here, then it’s a no-brainer that this would only be the beginning. Although this foray into tablets isn’t Amazon’s attack against the iPad, says Kuo, he does believe that the company is thinking about it for next year. That’s when they’re looking to up the size to 10.1-inch and 8.9-inch tablets, to go head to head with the iPad. (And, he adds, the 8.9-incher has an “amazing form factor,” whatever that means.)
The company will also be announcing two ereaders as well — “Tequila,” a lower-end model that could sell for as little as $99, and “Whitney,” a premium Kindle with touch controls, 3G support and speaker. While both will be announced, he says, it’s likely that Whitney will be delayed until next month, due to manufacturing issues.
There has been a lot of debate over Amazon’s approach here — everything from price points to the 7-inch size of the flagship tablet. What say you? Put your prognosticating hat on and make your predictions — can a humble device, backed by the Amazon powerhouse and all its services, actually make a dent in a growing tablet field where other device makers have failed? Weigh in — especially if you’re planning on picking one up yourself.