Amazon's Android tablet, which TechCrunch previewed over the weekend, could revive interest in the 7-inch form factor currently used by RIM's PlayBook.
Android tablet revive interest in the 7-inch form factor?
TechCrunch's MG Siegler recently had the
opportunity to play with a version of Amazon's full-color tablet for an hour,
and did his best to describe its capabilities; it has a custom Android user
interface and deeply integrates content from Amazon, including the Cloud Player
and Kindle software. It will cost $250, and offer 6GB of internal storage for
books and applications-in essence, forcing users to rely on the cloud for the
majority of their media content.
tablet will measure 7 inches. If it sells well, apparently, the retailer could
decide to launch a 10-inch edition sometime next year. Siegler compares it to
Research In Motion's BlackBerry-themed PlayBook tablet: "The back of the device
is rubbery-again, it's very similar to the PlayBook (it's black as well)."
At that size,
Amazon's tablet would buck the trend in tablets toward screens in the 9- to
10-inch range. So far, only two prominent tablet models have embraced a 7-inch
form factor: the aforementioned PlayBook, which RIM released earlier in 2011,
and Samsung's original Galaxy Tab from 2010.
tablet is far easier to hold in one hand than a 9- or 10-inch tablet, and
stores better in tighter spaces. Amazon is familiar with manufacturing devices
that size, as its Kindle e-reader offers a 6-inch display. As others have
pointed out, the Amazon tablet's $250 sticker price (according to Siegler, and thus
subject to change) would place it head-to-head against rival Barnes &
Noble's Android-powered Nook Color e-reader, which retails for the same
In offering a
7-inch tablet, Amazon would neatly avoid the pressure placed on every new 9- or
10-inch tablet, namely that it prove to be an "iPad killer" capable of ending
Apple's dominance of the tablet industry. The emphasis on integrated Amazon
services could make the device appear more of a "Kindle Plus," especially if
the retailer decides to market the device as the logical successor to its
current offerings. At the same time, access to Amazon's Android applications
storefront and a full collection of multimedia offerings could make it a robust
competitor in the tablet sphere, enough to pose a substantial competitive threat
to other Android tablet manufacturers.
Hewlett-Packard announced it would shut down production of its TouchPad tablet,
and slashed the retail cost to a mere $99, customers turned out in droves to
purchase a respectable touch-screen device at a steal. If Amazon does something
similar, offering a quality Android tablet with robust features at a low price,
will it spark similar consumer interest?
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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.