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Amazon set to unveil long-awaited tablet on Thursday

Monday, 26 September 2011 | By Patrick Stafford

Retail giant Amazon has scheduled a press conference for Wednesday night in the US (Thursday AEST) where many analysts believe it will debut its long-awaited tablet device, which many believe could pose the first biggest threat to Apple’s iPad.


The move comes just days after a report from research firm Gartner found the iPad will continue to dominate the tablet market over the next three years, holding at least a 50% share over that time.


Although the press invitation merely reads, “Please join us for an Amazon press conference”, analysts suggest the company has been working on a tablet device for some time and it may release the gadget in time for the holiday season.


According to various reports the device has a seven inch screen, operates via touch, while the company is set to deliver all types of media content including films, books and music through the device – similar to the iPad’s relationship to the iTunes Store.


This would reflect the way Amazon has gone about building its online store, which now offers music and apps.


This may be the key to potential success, says Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi, who argues that any competitor to the iPad needs a rich ecosystem of content for users to access to improve the device’s longevity.


“Amazon has a content offering it can generate revenue from, and essentially that will allow them to keep prices down on the actual hardware. Some other vendors haven’t had the opportunity to generate that content from on top of their devices.”


The Amazon tablet is rumoured to be powered by Android, which is fast becoming the most popular alternative OS to the iPad’s iOS. But Fadaghi says while some tablets have become more popular than others, such as the Samsung Galaxy or the Motorola Xoom, they lack some critical features.


“If Amazon has a content offering they can afford to be competitive in terms of pricing, and that’s what’s been lacking in the Android space – high quality, but low cost devices.”


“Apple is able to do that, while most vendors aren’t. So Amazon will still be able to compete in terms of content. It could even use it in such a way to pursue mobile commerce and make revenue from selling things and get the advantage of that functionality.”


But while some have already predicted the Amazon tablet’s success – Forrester Research said earlier this year it could sell up to five million devices by the end of the year – there are some limitations. Fadaghi explains the name “Amazon” isn’t easily associated with consumer electronics.


Despite the company’s relative success with its Kindle eReaders, Fadaghi explains that Amazon “is just not known for being that kind of vendor”.


The other issue, Fadaghi says, is that more consumers want to use their tablet to produce content, rather than consume it.


“People do much more than just consuming content on their devices. Increasingly, Apple is advertising to the creation of content and tablet-specific apps.”


“No Android tablet has really cracked the big time with regard to apps and that type of creation.”


This article first appeared on SmartCompany.