Amazon testing mobile-optimized shopping site ahead of tablet launch

This is interesting. Amazon appears to be testing a redesign of its shopping web site that appears to be specifically optimized for tablet browsing. The Next Web discovered several tweaks which seem to be accessible only to a small number of users who are testing out the new design. These include the more prominent search bar and bigger controls, so you don’t have to sand your fingers down.

Another tell-tale sign: The new site gives prominence to Amazon’s tablet-friendly services such as Instant Video, MP3 Store, Cloud Player, Kindle, Cloud Drive, AppStore for Android, Game and Software Downloads and Audiobooks. Yes, we might be reading too much into it, but this feels like a part of launch preparations for the rumored Amazon tablet.

Forrester’s Sarah Rotman Epps predicts bright future for the Amazon tablet, which in her own words will “be synonymous with ‘Android’ on tablets” a year from now (disclosure: Epps was wrong on predicting iPad numbers plummeting back in June). She wrote in a note to clients Monday that Amazon could sell five million tablet units in the fourth quarter, considerably more than the 3.27 million iPads Apple sold in its first quarter, adding:

Enter Amazon.com, whose tablet can compete on price, content, and commerce. If it’s launched at the right price with enough supply, we see Amazon’s tablet easily selling 3 million to 5 million units in Q4 alone, disrupting not only Apple’s product strategy but other tablet manufacturers’ as well.

A recent survey from Nielsen revealed that a tablet from Amazon marrying e-reading features of the Kindle to the computing capabilities of tablets could appeal to wide demographics. Nielsen says women now amount to a whopping 61 percent of e-reader owners, up from 46 percent last year. As for tablet and smartphone adoption, women climbed only by four and three percentage points in the period, respectively. The numbers led Silicon Alley Insider to joke that “women are from Amazon, men are from Apple”.

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Amazon seen pushing five million tablets in the fourth quarter


Amazon tablet mockup via BGR.

The rumored Amazon tablet isn’t even out yet (the company is sourcing components for manufacturing), but that hasn’t stopped market analysts from estimating its potential. According to Forrester Research, the online retailer could sell up to five million tablets in the fourth quarter of this year. The figure is not to be dismissed easily, especially in light of poor sales of other vendors in the Android tablet space. Heck, the number fares more than favorably versus the 30 million iPads Apple sold since April of last year. Analyst Sarah Rotman Epps wrote in a note to clients:

Thus far, Apple has faced many would-be competitors, but none have gained significant market share. Not only does Amazon have the potential to gain share quickly but its willingness to sell hardware at a loss, as it did with the Kindle, makes Amazon a nasty competitor.

In addition, strong sales of the Amazon tablet is likely to become the key incentive for Android developers who have largely ignored the market for Honeycomb devices.

Nevertheless, popularized by Apple’s iPad, the tablet is on the rise. Amazon on its part is best poised to reap the benefits due to the sheer size of its ecosystem offering the kind of integrated product which can challenge Apple’s vertically integrated approach to gadget making. Also…

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Amazon prepping Android-powered tablets for “hundreds less” than Apple’s iPad

According to the New York Post (via BGR), Amazon is getting ready to launch their rumored Android-powered tablets with a price tag “hundreds less” than Apple’s current $499 base model iPad 2. “Hundreds less” sounds a lot like $299.

The devices, expected to launch sometime in October, will more than likely be the result of the entry-level tablet codenamed “Coyote” and it’s pro-model counterpart the NVIDIA T30 Kal-El powered “Hollywood”. We told you about these devices back in May, which will most likely be powered by a highly customized Amazon version of Android (bringing with it Amazon services like the Appstore, Kindle eBook store, Amazon Videos, music and possibly brought together by the Cloud Drive).

Amazon is clearly prepping a huge move into the tablet market. We reported this week that the company signed up a third touch panel supplier, and that was after recently becoming the second largest buyer of tablet-related parts – without yet having released a tablet.
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Amazon adds third touch panel supplier ahead of tablet launch next month

The Amazon tablet we’ve been hearing about every now and then in past weeks is inching closer to release, folks. Industry publication DigiTimes reported this morning that Amazon picked a third supplier for touch panel parts as it gears up for manufacturing. Looks like TPK Holdings will be joining Wintek and JTouch as suppliers, the publication wrote:

Amazon, considering that the supply of 7-inch touch panels by Wintek and JTouch may not be sufficient for use in its tablet PCs, has decided to add TPK Holding as a third supplier, according to industry sources.

Shipments will begin in September, Wintek “stressed”. Note the may-not-be-sufficient part in the above quote, suggesting a likely increase of the original two million launch units. Amazon allegedly planned on unveiling its inaugural tablet in October, around the same time Apple was rumored to bring iPad 3 to market. At first, the online retailer had experienced difficulties sourcing parts because Apple pretty much locked out other vendors until mid-July they signed up Foxconn, Apple’s long-standing manufacturing partner, to produce the Amazon tablet. Surprisingly, Amazon even went on to become the largest buyer of tablet parts. A market survey has it that…

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DigiTimes: Amazon becomes the second-largest buyer of tablet parts

In what is another indication of a rumored Amazon tablet, Taiwanese trade publication, DigiTimes, this morning quoted sources from the supply chain who said Amazon has become the second largest buyer of tablet parts as component suppliers are lining up to provide parts for Amazon’s seven- and ten-inch slates. That’s a notable change from previous reports asserting Apple had gobbled up pretty much the entire supply of tablet parts. The Amazon devices are apparently due for a fourth quarter launch and the online retail giant is targeting to ship four million tablet PCs this year.

The publication named suppliers which include an unnamed processor from Nvidia, gravity sensors from Sitronix and touch panels from Wintek (also an Apple supplier) in addition to J Touch and Chunghwa Picture Tubes. Note that the mention of the seven-inch Amazon tablet probably means a new Kindle e-reader while the ten-incher most likely refers to a brand new Android-powered tablet said to be integrated with their cloud stores carrying mobile apps, music, movies, e-books and other digital warez. A Retrevo survey indicated that 79 percent of buyers would consider an Amazon tablet if priced less than $250. Apple is said to be considering cheaper components for next iPad amid the increasing pricing pressure in the market.

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Survey: Buyers want sub-$250 Amazon tablet

Much has been said about a rumored Amazon tablet so far. It should be based on Android, we are told, and Asian source have chimed in with their share of leaks, the latest being that Taiwanese contract manufacturers have begun producing the gizmo, presumably for a Fall launch. But will you take the plunge? That’s what research firm Retrevo set out to figure out in a July study stemming from polling over a thousand online individuals in the US. Key takeaway: Amazon tablet must be really affordable if it’s to hit the ground running.

Asked whether they’d consider buying any Android tablet with similar features over a base model $499 iPad, more than three-quarter respondents, or 79 percent, said “Yes, if it cost less than $250″. Amazon is rumored to be skipping on some tablet features in order to keep production costs down, like use a less expensive touch panel which can only detect two fingers at once.

Of course, Amazon knows how to build gadgets like Kindle and make them less expensive over time. The tablet, however, they’d have to price aggressively from day one as Apple pretty much set the starting price at $499. Nearly half the respondents would choose an Android tablet over an entry-level $499 iPad if it was priced less than $300 and nearly one in three would go Android with a sub-$400 device.

In a blow to other tablet makers, including brands such as Motorola, Samsung, Research In Motion, Hewlett-Packard and others, a whopping 55 percent would seriously consider a tablet from Amazon. This highlights the power of ecosystem which has turned Apple’s tablet into a smash hit. Amazon too has its own app store, music store, movie store and other digital stores in the cloud, bound to create a compelling user experience in the familiar environment from a trusted name in online retail. More food for thought and pretty charts right below…

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DigiTimes: Foxconn to make Amazon tablet?

Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes quotes unnamed industry sources who claim Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer for gadgets, will produce a rumored Android-driven tablet from Amazon, said to sport a 10.1-inch display, with shipments to begin in 2012 at the earnest. Quanta Computer, another contract manufacturer from Asia, has already begun shipping a smaller seven-inch device to Amazon, the report notes:

Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry) has reportedly landed orders for 10.1-inch tablet PCs from Amazon with shipments to begin in 2012, while Quanta Computer has begun shipping a 7-inch model to Amazon. Foxconn declined to comment on market speculation.

Foxconn of course is Apple’s long-time manufacturer so it comes as a surprise that Apple did not exercise its influence and billions to block rivals from tapping Foxconn’s manufacturing potentials. That’s not entirely unheard of, however…

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Report: Amazon to sell tablet by October

The Wall Street Journal is reporting Amazon will be selling a tablet by October, to compete with Apple’s iPad. While the details are sketchy as of now, WSJ is saying the tablet will have a 9-inch screen and will run Android. Oddly enough, the tablet will not feature a back camera. Lastly, Amazon won’t be building the tablet themselves, but will outsource to a manufacturer in Asia.

Amazon’s tablet will have a roughly nine-inch screen and will run on Google’s Android platform, said people familiar with the device. Unlike the iPad, it won’t have a camera, one of these people said. While the pricing and distribution of the device is unclear, the online retailer won’t design the tablet itself. It also is outsourcing production to an Asian manufacturer, the people said. One of the people said the company is working on another model, with Amazon’s own design, that could be released next year.

There will also be two eReaders before Christmas, one touch and one at a significantly reduced cost. Along with the tablet in October, there is word that we can be seeing another tablet designed by Amazon themselves in 2012.
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Amazon sourcing tablet parts, but iPad 2 causing production constraints


Amazon Android logo mockup: BGR

The venerable Amazon tablet has inched one step closer to reality with the news that the company has begun sourcing parts for a rumored tablet. According to DigiTimes, a Taiwanese trade publication, Amazon is hoping to ship some two million units in September, in time for the holiday shopping season:

Amazon reportedly has held talks with TPK Holdings, Wintek, HannStar Display and J Touch for the supply of touch panels, indicated the sources, noting that Amazon targets to ship four million tablet PCs before the end of 2011.

However, Apple is pressuring the supply chain considerably. The Cupertino, California company reportedly plans to ramp up iPad 2 manufacturing to twelve million iPad 2 units for the third quarter, up from an estimated 6-7 million units in the second quarter and the 4.9 million iPads Apple shipped during the first quarter. Because of this, the Amazon tablet could be facing serious constraints, the report notes.

The story corroborates a previous report from the same publication calling for a September-August launch. The rumor-mill talk is that the online retail giant will introduce a plethora of Android-driven mobile devices, possibly even a smartphone. Amazon’s boss Jeff Bezos wouldn’t reveal anything beyond dropping hints and teasing us to “stay tuned”.

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DigiTimes: Inaugural Amazon tablet due August-September


Amazon, the well-versed vendor of vertically integrated wireless devices, is on the verge of unveiling a tablet

We’ve heard rumors that Amazon is planning multiple mobile devices and their chief Jeff Bezos teased us to “stay tuned” for a tablet, but the actual release date of their first iPad killer has been anyone’s guess. According to DigiTimes, a pretty reliable Taiwanese publication, the online retailer is gearing up to launch their inaugural Android slate some time in the August-September time frame.

Amazon is poised to step into tablet PCs and will launch models as soon as August-September, with targeted global sales of four million units for 2011, according to Taiwan-based component makers. The timing of launch is to meet the peak sales period prior to Thanksgiving in the US and the year-end holidays in the US and Europe, the sources pointed out.

Four million units is a pretty aggressive target for about four months worth of sales, however…

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Rumor: Amazon planning multiple Android devices (hint: a smartphone)

Uh-oh, looks like Amazon is serious about getting on board the Android cluetrain. In fact, they most likely want a piece of the action in the Android space themselves. A tipster told AndroidMe that the online retail giant is planning an “entire family” of Android gadgets for this holiday shopping season.

This tip came from an industry insider with direct knowledge of the project. The information was shared with me in a recent face-to-face meeting and I believe the source to be trustworthy. It was also confirmed by a separate source who has provided reliable information in the past. As with most of my tipsters, they wish to remain anonymous.

Author Taylor Wimberly goes on to lay out the many reasons explaining Amazon’s motivation to compete in this crowded space. He’s got the point and here are just a few…

Update: BGR says:

we have been told that the “entry” level tablet, codenamed “Coyote” will be based on the NVIDIA Tegra 2 platform. The big boy? That’s codenamed “Hollywood” and will be based on the NVIDIA T30 “Kal-El” which will bring a screaming quad-core processor with a 500% performance increase over the dual-core Tegra 2.

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Amazon’s Bezos: Stay tuned for an Amazon Android tablet

Mr. Bezos needs to work on his deniability skills.  On the subject of Android tablets, Consumer Reports got this from the Amazon CEO:

Asked today about the possibility of Amazon launching a multipurpose tablet device, the company’s president and CEO Jeff Bezos said to “stay tuned” on the company’s plans. In an interview at Consumer Reports’ offices, Bezos also signaled that any such device, should it come, is more likely to supplement than to supplant the Kindle, which he calls Amazon’s “purpose-built e-reading device.”

Bezos acknowledged the popularity of reading e-books (many of them sold by Amazon) on tablet computers such as the iPad. But he added that this popularity doesn’t spell the demise of the Kindle.

“We will always be very mindful that we will want a dedicated reading device,” he said. “In terms of any other product introductions, I shouldn’t answer.”

Amazon of course already has an ecosystem of eBooks, Music, Video and of course its own Android App Store, so the hardware really is the last piece at this point.  Both Analysts and yours truly think it really is only a matter of when. Read more