Kindle Fire 2

As Brandon mentioned, the Wall Street Journal seems pretty convinced that Amazon will be debuting an inexpensive, ad-supported version of the next-gen Kindle Fire. Makes sense considering that the company did the same for its Kindle eReader. Similar to that method of ad-integration, Fire users wouldn’t have to deal with a cacophony of advertisements blasted at them when they’re trying to use their devices — they’d merely encounter them whenever the tablets woke from sleep.

If that’s the case, and the price is low enough, this could be a game-changer. Sure there are $200 compact tablets now (including Amazon’s popular current model), but for some people, that’s still out of reach. If, however, the rumor of an even less expensive Fire II is true, then a huge, budget-conscious market of people — previously shut out of this pricey technology — will suddenly have access to a genuine tablet computer on the cheap. The new device could even tempt naysaying tablet haters — and why not? If it’s affordable enough, why wouldn’t tech geeks pick it up to tinker with?

A cost-effective device from a well-known brand that’s extremely user-friendly and boasts respectable specs is like the holy grail for mainstream customers. If Amazon steps up and delivers that this week, then it’s possible that we’re on the brink of an industry-defining moment: For the first time, the usage statistics could flip and unseat pricey competitor iOS as the dominant tablet platform. (It captured 68.3 percent of global tablet shipments last quarter). Cost savings is a powerful motivator, and even though blogger after blogger has been saying that Apple isn’t who Amazon is gunning for, it stands to reason that a flood of Fire II devices entering the market could change the proportions. And even if that isn’t enough on its own, market share from other Android tablets, as well as the upcoming Microsoft Surface, could make some interesting things happen.

Of course, the only way for this magic bullet to fire (pun intended) is if (a) the Fire II price comes in far enough below the $199 price point, and (b) people are willing to flock to an ad-supported model to get it.

And so I field the question to you, the community: Will people be willing to put up with advertisements in order to save money on a tablet? Would you? Check out our poll below, and voice your impressions in the comments.