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?