Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) appears set to introduce its long-rumored Kindle Tablet Sept. 28 at a media event in New York City, a happening that could cap months of speculation about a potential rival to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad.
Amazon Sept. 23 sent out media invitations asking press and analysts for the event next Wednesday, and eWEEK will be on hand to cover the event.
The e-commerce giant could be simply unveiling another of its popular Kindle electronic reading devices, but most industry watchers believe a tablet based on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system is the more likely play.
Forrester Research analysts have been calling for an Amazon Tablet since March, after Motorola Mobility's Xoom Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" tablet failed to gain traction, and before RIM's PlayBook and HP's TouchPad failed to catch sufficient user interest. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos fueled speculation in May by alluding to a tablet.
That's when the rumor mill began to churn faster, when in September TechCrunch said it played with the so-called 7-inch, full color Amazon Kindle Tablet, for an hour.
The device is reportedly built on Android 2.1 with a custom skin and other perks that capture the experience of Amazon's Website, which has been redesigned with bigger buttons for better touch input access.
The prevailing sentiment is Amazon will launch a sub-$300 media consumption device that will tether closely to its music, movie and digital book content. At the least, most agree Amazon will launch at least a Kindle with a color screen to challenge Barnes & Nobles' Nook Color, a popular e-reader that is also based on Android.
"The rumors I have heard suggest that Amazon is launching a color Kindle with ties to its many services," Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart told eWEEK. "If priced right it ought to be something with consumer appeal. The monochrome Kindle has been a big hit, and Barnes & Noble has had success with its $249 Nook Color."
Greengart added that Amazon has a much bigger stable of digital services to bring to the table than Barnes & Noble, including books, apps, music, movies, backup and more.
That content ecosystem and aggressive price point should position the Kindle Tablet to better compete with the iPad, which has sold more than 30 million units and offers consumers 100,000 applications, as well as books and music.
However, most industry watchers believe the Kindle Tablet will, like the iPad, become the leading device on the Android platform, stomping out other, less successfully Android tablets. The Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab are estimated to have both enjoyed only modest sales of a few million combined.