For months we've been talking about the impending arrival of an Amazon Android tablet and Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos didn't quite let the cat out of the bag--but he came close.
Bezos also said that if Amazon were to do a tablet, it wouldn't replace the Kindle but be sold alongside it. That seems rather obvious, but that he was even talking hypothetically about such a scenario strongly indicates that a tablet is coming; it's only a matter of when, what size it will be, and how much it will cost.
Earlier this month, Taiwan-based Digitimes reported that notebook maker Quanta Computer had received OEM orders from Amazon for a "reported tablet PC," and that it would start shipping that product as soon as the "second half of this year."
The tablet will almost assuredly have a color LCD, a fact that Bezos also hinted at in his conversation with Consumer Reports. He said that color e-ink "is not ready for prime time...the colors are very pale" (we agree) but "it makes a lot of sense for there to be a low-power, reflective color display. I think that's something you could build a fantastic product around."
Ironically, E Ink, the company behind the monochrome e-ink displays in the Kindle and other e-readers, has a subsidiary called Hydis that makes LCD displays with Fringe Field Switching (FFS) technology that improves the color gamut and viewing angles. The Nook Color and Samsung Galaxy Tab reportedly have these FFS screens and the new Amazon tablet probably will, too.
We have a hunch Amazon wouldn't call this potential new tablet the Kindle Color (or Kindle Kolor). Instead, it would keep its dedicated e-reader brand separate from a multipurpose tablet and obviously hitch that tablet's wagon to its recently launched Appstore for Android. As it stands, Amazon invested too much brand messaging and ad dollars into the notion of an e-reader that is lightweight, can be viewed in direct sunlight, and has long battery life. An LCD-based Android tablet would have to be marketed differently.
As Mr. Bezos says, stay tuned. We should be hearing lots more about an Amazon tablet in the days and weeks ahead.