Amazon.com's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Android tablet has been one of the worst kept secrets for months since CEO Jeff Bezos alluded to it.
Analysts have predicted features and price points below $300 to help it effectively compete with Apple's standard-bearing iPad. Price right with Amazon's powerful brand, Forrester Research believes the tablet could sell 3 million to 5 million units in the fourth quarter.
Now, for the first time, the world has an idea what the slate looks and feels like, thanks to TechCrunch. MG Siegler and got to play with a test version of the slate, which he said may actually come out in November (not October) in time for the holiday shopping season.
Here is a bullet-point breakdown of the Amazon tablet, vis-??Ã-vis Siegler's one-hour experience with the device:
- It has a 7-inch tablet, full-color, capacitive touch screen, which is back-lit.
- The tablet looks and feels a bit like Research in Motion's Blackberry PlayBook, with a rubbery back.
- Navigation is purely virtual; it has no physical buttons below the display.
- Google is the default search engine.
- Tabbed Android Webkit browser.
- It runs not Android's "Honeycomb," build tailored for tablets, but a custom version of Android, which has been forked yet again. Siegler said this is a Kindle-flavored Android modification, employing black, dark blue and orange color schemes.
- The main screen is a carousel, which displays books, apps, movies, etc. Below is a dock to pin favorite items. This dock disappears when the users turn the slate to landscape mode.
- A status/notification tray sits above the dock.
- Content is all Amazon: there is a Kindle app, Amazon Cloud Player for music, Amazon's Instant Video player, and the Android Appstore.
- In that vein, there is only 6 GB of internal storage for books and apps, with music and movies running from the cloud. Amazon wants to offer a cloud device, not a storage hog.
- It will cost $250, the same price as Barnes & Nobles' Nook Color, half the cost of Apple's iPad, and $50 less than the price point analyst have been expecting for a successful alternative to the iPad.
- Amazon Prime, the $79 a year service that lets consumers get unlimited two-day shipping and access to limited Instant Videos, is free for Amazon Kindle Tablet.
- Successful sales of the 7-inch model could lead to a 10-inch version in early 2012.
That's the gist of Siegler's scoop/mini review.You'll want to read his post to find it what it may not have.
There are more signs Amazon is paving the way for its tablet. The e-commerce giant is revamping its Website to be more tablet friendly, removing extraneous links and tabs, making key buttons bigger and widening the space between them to allow for touchscreen input.
Moreover, digital goods, such as books, movies and music, are touted over physical ones, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The company is keen on improving the shopping experience for its tablet with good reason. Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, who has been calling for an Amazon tablet since March, surveyed 2,000 tablet owners and found 47 percent said they shopped for and purchased something on their tablet.
Amazon is clearing designing Kindle Tablet to be its mobile multimedia powerhouse. It will be fascinating to see if and how Amazon propels sales with this device for the holiday.