updated 04:15 pm EDT, Thu July 14, 2011
Amazon cutting Android tablet features for price
Amazon may be trimming as much as it can on its upcoming Android tablet to get the price down, an internal source divulged on Thursday. The previously leaked decision to pass on any cameras is being joined by intentional limits on storage, accessories, and other extras, the NYT heard. CEO Jeff Bezos had decided just after the iPad launch to make a more Kindle-friendly tablet and that lower prices were the key to challenging Apple.
In the earliest stages, Amazon's Lab 126 hardware team had also purportedly considered using a more in-house OS like the Linux variant on the Kindle but had decided to use Android after once again considering the iPad. A custom OS would have left the tablet starting from scratch with apps, leaving it at an automatic disadvantage to the iPad. Higher-ups in Amazon's ranks were worried that their tablet would be overshadowed by the sheer number of other similar Android devices but eventually gave way.
Normally Apple-focused John Gruber has added that he understands that Amazon has heavily customized the OS beyond just including its own apps.
Amazon has wanted to use its buyout of Touchco for the multi-touch in the tablet, but it was supposedly having trouble rolling that into e-paper Kindle readers due to the inherent dulling effect of the touch layer on top of the display.
Only 3G may be a distinct hardware advantage for Amazon, according to the insider. Hints are that it may try to get lower pricing than the $15 or $25 per month that iPads and other tablets need for their prepaid data. It's not clear if Amazon would be successful since it would be using the same Android foundations as many of its competitors.
The combined effect may lead to a device significantly cheaper than the iPad but will also be a gamble that an in between tablet will be popular relative to either the Kindle or a full-featured tablet like the iPad. Amazon has addressed the low end by offering a $139 Kindle 3G but won't have the same luxury for the high end. Proximity to the iPad's price or price cuts from rivals could eliminate Amazon's advantage.
The nine-inch slate is expected to ship by October and will mostly be a vehicle for Amazon's own services, including the Appstore, Cloud Player, Instant Video, and Kindle. Lab 126' involvement won't necessarily lead to a distinctive Amazon design as the core is believed to have been outsourced to an Asian company such as Samsung.