Amazon Kindle Fire -- Android software meets PlayBook hardware meets iPad content?

Rumor has it word that Amazon's rumored 7-inch tablet will be known as the "Kindle Fire", and in addition to a forked version of Android software, it might also be using a reduced cost version of the BlackBerry PlayBook hardware.

TechCrunch scored the name Kindle Fire, and says Amazon won't be ready to release it until the second week of November. Ryan Block from GDGT further broke down the reasons TechCrunch felt inclined to compare the form-factor of the Kindle Fire to that of the Blackberry Playbook:

My sources tell me that RIM originally outsourced much of the hardware design and production of the PlayBook to mega-ODM Quanta -- a company that builds, and sometimes helps design, hardware for name brands. The time eventually came that Amazon's executives decided to do an Android tablet -- far likelier to respond to the dark-horse success of the Nook Color than to the adjacent success of the iPad -- Amazon's own Kindle group (called Lab 126) apparently opted not to take on the project, in favor of continuing to work solely on next-gen E-Ink-based devices. From there, Amazon's team determined they could build a tablet without the help and experience of Lab 126, so they turned to Quanta, which helped them "shortcut" the development process by using the PlayBook as their hardware template.

Block seems worried about this "shortcut" move by Amazon on the hardware, but TechCrunch asserts that the user-experience is top notch thanks to custom Android software running the tablet. Regardless, it's an interesting pedigree to say the least.

Amazon has also apparently been working on last minute content deals with Fox for streaming movies and TV shows, and the tablet is expected to include their MP3 service and Kindle bookstore next to a proprietary Android Marketplace. Additionally, AllThingsD says a few big-name magazine publishers have signed on to provide content for the device.

When Amazon unveils its new iPad-like device on Wednesday, it will have the backing of at least three of the big magazine publishers: Hearst, Conde Nast and Meredith all have deals to sell digital versions of their titles on the new device, according to industry sources.

And then there's the pricing issue. It was previously speculated that Amazon would price the tablet at around $250 with the inclusion of a free Amazon Prime membership, which comes with their popular streaming video service and free shipping on all products across the site. It's now believed that Amazon may sell the Kindle Fire at $300 with Amazon Prime included, with another option available at $250 without the service.

We'll have to wait and see after the announcement on Wednesday, but so far the rumor buildup has my curiosity piqued. Could this actually be the first real iPad competitor everyone has been waiting for, or will it only grow the still maturing tablet market even more?

Source: TechCrunch, GDGT, AllThingsD

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Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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Reader comments

Amazon Kindle Fire -- Android software meets PlayBook hardware meets iPad content?


I hope its good, its an aggressive price point, the tablet market needs some competition to get me a better iPad!

I doubt it is going to be an iPad competitor. It sounds more like a more usable Kindle with audio and video streaming. That sounds great for the Kindle market, as even adding a touch-screen would be quite beneficial (I only worry about weight). It doesn't sound much like an iPad though... an iPad is considerably more. They do have a basic tablet form factor in common I guess.

one year of prime? or prime is included, wam bam thank you ma'am? I'd gladly stop paying yearly for prime for the cost of this tablet.

If released as speculated, the Kindle Fire... not an iPad Competitor because it will be unable to do a large number of things and iPad can do. an iPad Competitor because it some (a lot?) of people will buy this instead of an iPad.
The iPad itself cannot do half of what a laptop can do, costs a lot more than half of a generic windows laptop...and yet it has had a huge impact on laptop sales, because consumers have found the half-of-a-laptop the iPad offers a great value.
The question is not "will the Kindle Fire be as good as an iPad?" It won't be. The question is "will the half-of-an-iPad the Kindle Fire offers be enough to eat into iPad sales significantly?"

Very good points, that's actually a good way to look at it. For under $200 you have to admit that's a real good value for your money. Sure, it doesn't have the specs the iPad does (and of course nowhere near the price tag) but some people just want something simple and affordable that works. It's no comparison to the iPad, but I can see a big market for something like the Kindle Fire to be honest.

Thanks for the wonderful article, I was searching for details like this, going to check out the other articles.

I thought new applications for iPad were supposed to support all orientations. However, after installing some games on iPad I realized that this was not the case. I am confused. This was specifically underlined in Apple's Development Program as a must. Any thoughts on this?