updated 04:45 pm EDT, Mon September 26, 2011
Amazon has 3 tablet pubs, gives subscrber data
Amazon has three out of the major four US publishers onboard for its Kindle tablet launch this Wednesday, tipsters disclosed Monday alongside details of the tablet itself. They briefed AllThingsD that Condé Nast, Hearst, and Meredith will all supply magazines to the Android device. Time, already on the iPad, is in stalled talks but could be available by the end of 2011.
Titles wouldn't just be optimized for the seven-inch slate but for a larger tablet due in 2012. The mention supports rumors of two tablets, the seven-inch Coyote and the 10-inch Hollywood. The Coyote should be a budget model where the Hollywood could have a quad-core chip.
The retailer will mimic the Apple business model of taking a 30 percent cut and leaving the publisher and author the rest. Amazon has reportedly made a concession Apple wasn't willing to make on privacy, however, and will share a limited amount of customer data without readers' explicit consent. Some of the deals may also see Amazon make special exceptions to its 30 percent if it wants to guarantee access to a book or extract more profit of its own.
Separately, sources mentioned some last-minute details for the tablet hardware itself. Called the Kindle Fire to keep it distinct from the e-readers, it's described by TechCrunch as looking much like the BlackBerry PlayBook. The design should be much faster than thought, too, with a dual-core TI OMAP chip much like the PlayBook.
Software will get more attention, too. Although the customization will kick Amazon out of Android Market, Amazon has reportedly been courting as many "big app makers" as possible. Streaming should be a focus with significantly more apps available for the purpose.
The Fire could encounter significant roadblocks, however. While not the real focus, the tablet might share an uncomfortable link with the PlayBook in not shipping with native e-mail. Amazon would instead count on users getting a third-party app. Pricing might also be hiked closer to $300 and could cost Amazon sales next to the $250 Nook Color as well as larger, more capable tablets.
Barnes & Noble itself is believed to be releasing at least one new Nook Color that could go to Android 2.3, leaving behind the Fire's 2.1. Amazon might instead bank on bundling a Prime subscription, a possible explanation for the $300 price mention, and have a fallback to $250 for a plain version.
Timing could be an additional problem, according to insiders: although unveiled in late September, it might not ship until the second week of November. Although consistent with Amazon's preference for November device launches, it could leave many buying an iPad or Nook instead.
The design as a whole is expected to be a vehicle for Amazon's cloud services, ranging from the Kindle bookstore to Instant Video and Cloud Player. Amazon may be betting that bundling a $79 or lower Prime account with unlimited videos and broad book access could get customers to jump ship.