MG Siegler: Amazon's Kindle Tablet is very real, I've played with it
TechCrunch writer MG Siegler has seen and played with the new Amazon tablet which, he says, is called simply “Amazon Kindle”. It’s a 7-in device with capacitive touch screen and runs a customised version of Android with an Amazon front-end:
- Very similar in form factor to the BlackBerry PlayBook, rubber-feel back
- Initially wi-fi only (3G and larger 10-in tablet to follow)
- Two-finger multi-touch instead of iPad-like 10-finger
- Amazon-themed interface, black, dark blue and some orange
- Main screen using Cover Flow-style carousel
- No physical buttons
- Deep integration with Amazon store, Kindle, Cloud Player, Instant Video Player
- Browser similar to Amazon’s WebKit
- No camera
- Likely to include free subscription to Amazon Prime (worth $79 a year)
- Will co-exist with existing low-end e-ink Kindle Reader
- Price tag of $250
- Available later in the year, possibly November
To me, this sounds like a winning device for Amazon. I’ve said before that Amazon, with its eco-system and its deep consumer penetration, is the one company that can currently offer serious competition to Apple. Where Apple has its high-street retail stores, Amazon has its pre-eminent on-line retail store. It also has an Apple-like reputation for reliability, customer service and attention to detail. If the new Kindle Tablet is as good as Siegler believes, it will sell in huge numbers.
The 7-in screen size is interesting because, if you remember, it was Steve Jobs who said that a seven-inch tablet would never succeed. You would need sharpened fingers to operate it, he said (while completely forgetting that the iPhone works well with podgy digits). Although I love my iPad 2, I do find it a bit on the big side. I could imagine being very satisfied with a 7-in tablet and I am sure that millions of consumers will take a similar view.
Even at $500, such a device could offer serious competition for Apple. But if Siegler is right in his pricing estimate of $250, half the cost of the basic iPad, I cannot see where Amazon can go wrong. I’d buy one, just for the experience.