Amazon tablet Stories September 29, 2011

All major Android backers are now paying royalties to Microsoft for using Android in smartphones, even the likes of Samsung and HTC. Goldman Sachs estimated the Windows maker could rake in a whopping $444 million this year alone from Android patent pacts, easily exceeding Windows Phone licensing revenues. Now that the $199 Kindle Fire tablet has come into full view, the question arises whether Amazon, too, will run to Microsoft’s arms seeking Android patent protection.

The two companies last year had cut a cross-licensing agreement. However, the Seattle Times notes that the 2010 deal covers the existing Kindle e-readers but not Android, which powers the Kindle Fire tablet. TechCrunch’s MG Seigler, who saw early prototypes of the Fire tablet, described  a forked Android version which is at the core of the Kindle Fire experience:

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Amazon tablet Stories September 28, 2011

Just as we’re sorting through Amazon’s announcements related to their Kindle e-readers and the new Fire tablet, we spotted a press releasementioning Newsstand, an online store dedicated to the digital magazines and newspapers which have been optimized for the Fire’s seven-inch display. It’s pretty much like Apple’s upcoming Newsstand in iOS 5, only Amazon’s has more content. The company explains:

Hundreds of magazines and newspapers – including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Wired, Elle, The New Yorker, Cosmopolitan and Martha Stewart Living – with full-color layouts, photographs, illustrations, built-in video, audio and other interactive features are available from the new Kindle Fire “Newsstand.” Kindle Fire customers will enjoy an exclusive free three-month trial to 17 Condé Nast magazines, including Vanity Fair, GQand Glamour.

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Amazon has just unveiled at a press conference in New York its inaugural seven-inch tablet and a new family of Kindle e-readers that now include the $99 Kindle Touch and the low-priced regular Kindle which retails for just $99. Seth Weintraub is on the scene and the latest information includes the news that Amazon will be rolling out its own brand new browser for the Fire tablet, named Silk.

The company set up a new blog for the Silk team and their first blog postexplains that Silk is “an all-new web browser powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and available exclusively on the just announced Kindle Fire. According to a promo clip included above, a “split browser” architecture (kinda similar to Opera’s Turbo mode) taps the Amazon cloud which caches files (limitless caching) and does the heavy-lifting, depending on workload. It’s a smart approach which offload page rendering to Amazon Web Services, resulting in faster page load times. And here’s what’s so smart about it, according to the Silk team:

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Image via The Verge

In addition to the new Kindle Fire tablet, Amazon has also re-shuffled their Kindle offering at a New York event this morning. Our Seth Wientraub is on the scene and has the latest info. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has just unveiled a brand new e-reader with a touchscreen. The device is aptly named the Kindle Touch and costs just $99 for the WiFi-only version or $149 if you want to use it over 3G cellular networks.

They are shipping it November 21, right before Thanksgiving, and taking pre-orders today. Perhaps more important than that is the news that the regular Kindle now costs just eighty bucks. Plus, they are shipping the $79 Kindle today.

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Note: This is a mockup, not the actual Kindle Fire

Just as Amazon’s media event begins in New York, serving as a launchpad for their inaugural tablet, Bloomberg spoils the announcement by publishing key pieces of information about the device. It will be called the Kindle Fire, as rumored, and will cost just $199, which is a pretty big deal. The tablet has a seven-inch color display which responds to touch (just two fingersat once, though) and a “fresh and easy user interface” running on a forked Android version. Another biggie: The device will come with a 60-day free trial of Amazon Prime (a $79 a year value) membership.

Bad news: It has no cameras – not even a microphone. Heck, it even lacks 3G access so looks like the Fire will be a WiFi affair only. We’ll have more info soon as our own Seth Weintraub is on the scene in New York at Amazon’s press conference.

Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is betting he can leverage Amazon’s dominance in e-commerce to pose a real challenge to Apple’s iPad, after tablets from rivals such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Research In Motion Ltd. have fallen short. Sales of Amazon’s electronic books, movies and music on the device may help make up for the narrower profit margins that are likely to result from the low price, said Brian Blair, an analyst at Wedge Partners Corp. in New York.

The analyst observes what all of us have known for a long time, that the Seattle-based online retailer has the most compelling ecosystem to take on Apple’s iTunes juggernaut:

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Amazon tablet Stories September 26, 2011

A mockup of a seven-inch Amazon tablet running a forked Android version.

As Amazon gears up to debut its long-rumored tablet on Wednesday at a media event in New York (a subtle hint of a media-focused launch), TechCrunch chimes in with a name. The Android-driven device will be apparently marketed under the Kindle Fire moniker in order to distinguish it from Amazon’s highly regarded family of dedicated Kindle e-readers. Manufactured by Foxconn, Apple’s favorite contract manufacturer, the gizmo should boast a seven-inch color touchscreen (not true multi-touch) and won’t have an email client preloaded, but users will be able to download one from its mobile application store or use a built-in browser for web mail, writes author  MG Siegler who first saw the device early this month.

Meanwhile, AlllThingsD’s Peter Kafka writes the online retailer is cutting partnerships left and right with Hollywood studios and magazine publishers. Amazon has now added Fox shows to its streaming catalog, Kafka reported today, explaining the deal includes shows Fox no longer airs and old Fox movies such as “Office Space,” “Speed” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. Also, at least three magazine publishers have thrown their weighg behind Amazon’s tablet project: Hearst, Conde Nast and Meredith. Kafka cites industry sources claiming all three publishers “have deals to sell digital versions of their titles on the new device”.

Those titles are allegedly optimized for Amazon’s seven-incher and terms are said to mirror the 70:30 revenue split offered by Apple’s iTunes content store. Even though its success is anything but given, conventional wisdom has it that the Amazon tablet should benefit from Amazon’s many cloud services and long-standing partnerships with content providers. What’s unique about Amazon…

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Amazon tablet Stories September 23, 2011

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If all of the rumors are true, Amazon has a 7-inch “media tablet” that runs a forked version of Android and will connect to all of Amazon’s services, including its Appstore, Movies, TV, Music and of course eBooks. It won’t be true multi-touch but the rumored price is half of the iPad’s (just like the screen) at $250.  Who is making this for Amazon?  Foxconn of course.

Yes, it sounds just like a Nook (which is getting an interesting update soon) with a better backend store.

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Amazon tablet Stories September 22, 2011

A seven-inch Amazon tablet priced at $250 or less will compete against inexpensive Android tablets such as Lenovo’s $199 IdeaPad A1 (pictured above) or the $249 Nook color

Amazon is reportedly launching its inaugural Android tablet in the fourth quarter of this year. If the back office chatter is true, the online retailer will first out a seven-incher followed by a larger form-factor device(s) early next year. The latest news has the seven-inch Kindle Tablet costing $250 or less. However, market sources polled by DigiTimes warn of a lack of differentiation between Amazon’s dedicated Kindle e-readers and a seven-inch Android tablet:

Market observers are showing concerns as to how Amazon will differentiate its e-book reader market from that of its tablet while making profits for both after the company’s launch of the 7-inch tablet in fourth-quarter 2011. […] The sources also pointed out that Amazon may run a risk by releasing a 7-inch tablet when 10-inch models have mostly outperformed 7-inch competition over the past six months.

Shipping estimates have been revised and now call for a million units by the end of this month, “but the sources remain skeptical whether Amazon can meet its shipment goal of four million units in 2011”.

Now, about that differentiation comment. TechCrunch’s MG Siegler who saw prototypes described a seven-inch device without cameras. He said the screen used is a regular LCD as opposed to a color display utilizing electronic ink technology many people have been hoping for.

The fact Amazon could be marketing this thing under the Kindle moniker won’t help either, if true. On the flipside, there’s no reason as to why an Amazon-branded Android tablet tied to their all-encompassing cloud and shopping services would ever be confused with a family of dedicated and inexpensive Kindle e-readers.

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Amazon tablet Stories September 16, 2011

10.1-inch form factor has been adopted by Android tablets, but not Apple’s iPad. A major ramp up in 10.1-inch cover glass manufacturing could indicate high demand for Android tablets.

Touch panel makers TPK Holding, G-Tech and Wintek – all major Apple suppliers – are reportedly ramping up 10.1-inch cover glass manufacturing to ten million units per month, reports DigiTimes, a trade publication specialized in Asian supply chain. Such a substantial increase is eyebrow raising knowing that the market-leading iPad sports a 9.7-inch display while the 10.1-inch form factor is mostly an Android play.

9to5Google learned that Samsung’s Tabs are selling very well, measured in millions. We also know Amazon is close to launching its tablet and if market sources are correct, the online retailer is eager to ship millions of units in the run-up to Christmas. However, Amazon’s inaugural tablet PC will be a seven-incher, with both TechCrunch and DigiTimes reporting that a 10.1-inch Amazon tablet won’t be out until early 2012.

In any case, that’s a lot of cover glass units for non-iPad devices. Market watchers say Fuji Crystal and Lens Technology supply Apple with an estimated 70 percent of the cover glass, mainly for iPhones. G-Tech and Wintek supply to iPads and TPK Holding is said to provide cover glass to both iPhone and iPad.

Either touch panel makers have overestimated demand (which we doubt), or Apple is switching to 10.1-inch form factor for iPad 3 (highly unlikely, but possible given the hints of four-inch iPhone) or Android makers have decided to blanket the market this holiday season with millions of 10.1-inch tablets, which is the most reasonable assumption.

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Amazon tablet Stories September 12, 2011

Amazon is in talks with books publishers about a new service that could enable customers to subscribe to Kindle books in bulk for an annual subscription fee, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Amazon has told publishers it is considering creating a digital-book library featuring older titles, people familiar with the talks said. The content would be available to customers of Amazon Prime, who currently pay the retailer $79 a year for unlimited two-day shipping and for access to a digital library of movies and TV shows. Amazon would offer book publishers a substantial fee for participating in the program, people familiar with the proposal said. Some of these people said that Amazon would limit the amount of books that Amazon Prime customers could read for free every month.

However, the deal is anything but certain because print die-hards are not entirely sold on the initiative, fearing the idea might “downgrade” the value of books.

Several publishing executives said they aren’t enthusiastic about the idea because they believe it could lower the value of books and because it could strain their relationships with other retailers that sell their books, they said.

It is also unclear whether enough people would buy into the idea of subscribing to a vast library of digital books. The service would, however, provide value to e-reading aficionados who buy a lot of individual e-books on a regular basis. Of course, if Amazon can work out fair usage terms and keep the prices low, the general public could take the bait, too. If anything, the initiative could be seen as another way to upsell customers to the Amazon Prime subscription package.

That being said, the very idea of subscription-based access to Amazon’s vast books library raises the question whether Amazon is attempting to kill the library per se. It may seem a stretch, but let’s not forget that Kindle books are now outselling hardcover and paperback editions combined. Also, the service could take off if coupled with the forthcoming Amazon tablet, which will probably be the case.

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Amazon tablet Stories September 2, 2011

TechCrunch’s MG Siegler has come up with quite the exclusive this afternoon, which includes almost all of the details on Amazon’s new Kindle Tablet. TechCrunch wasn’t able to post pictures, but they reassure us they played with it — and they said it’s quite the delight, calling it “solid“. Citing the report, the 7-inch version will be released sometime by the end of the year for $250, and if it’s a success, the 10-inch will launch sometime in Q1. As for the operating system, it will be running Android, but not the kind you and I are used to.

The specs for this device are reported as follows: a 7-inch screen, single-core chip, modified Android, no physical buttons, no camera, and 6GB of internal storage (MG notes some of this is speculation). Did you read that no camera part? Wow.

Google’s Android Market is nowhere to be found. In fact, no Google app is anywhere to be found. This is Android fully forked. My understanding is that the Kindle OS was built on top of some version of Android prior to 2.2. And Amazon will keep building on top of that of that over time. In other words, this won’t be getting “Honeycomb” or “Ice Cream Sandwich” — or if it does, users will never know it because that will only be the underpinnings of the OS. Any visual changes will be all Amazon.

Continue after the break:

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Amazon tablet Stories August 26, 2011

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. expand full story

Amazon tablet Stories July 13, 2011

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. expand full story

Amazon tablet Stories June 30, 2011

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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