I wish Amazon would stop being coy about its plans for an Android Linux-based Kindle tablet and just announce it already. While Amazon still won't tell me that they're building one, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Amazon is planning releasing an iPad Rival.
OK, enough is enough. While I don't have any hard facts that anyone from Amazon will officially tell me, here's what my sources have been telling me to expect. What I'm telling you here is from people both inside Amazon and from Amazon's partners. Some of it may be wrong. I'm sure though that the broad picture is correct.
1. The Kindle Tablet Specifications.
The Kindle Tablet is going to be made by Quanta Computers. It will run Android Honeycomb 3.1. On the hardware side it will have dual-core OMAP 4 (ARM Cortex A9) processors running at 1.5GHz. It will have a solid-state drive (SSD) for local storage. The device will have a 9-inch display.
There will be two versions. The first will support Wi-Fi only while the other will also include 3G support. The 3G model may come at a subsidized price with support from a major telecommunications carrier.
2. The Cloud-based Kindle Tablet
The SSD isn't going to be that big. I expect it to start at a mere 16GBs. That will largely be because Amazon is going to strongly encourage you to use Amazon Cloud Drive to store your music. Video? They'll want you to rent your favorite TV shows and movies from Amazon Instant Video.
With the Kindle Tablet, they're going to want you to keep your goodies on the Amazon cloud, not on the device itself.
3. The Amazon Business Kindle Tablet
Don't think for a second that the Kindle Tablet is going to be somewhat like the Barnes & Noble Color Nook was at its start: an e-reader that could also be used as a tablet. This will be a full tablet from moment one.
The Kindle Tablet, besides having the usual collection of Android application via the Amazon AppStore for Android, will also have serious business applications. I've been told by big-time independent software vendors (ISV)s that they've been approached by Amazon to create business applications to the Kindle Tablet.
I'm not talking mini office software suites such as QuickOffice or ThinkFree. No, I'm talking about interfaces to enterprise-level applications. Which ones? That would be telling stories out of school, suffice it to say you know the names.
4. Amazon will target Apple's iPad
Don't think though that just because Amazon is taking a surprising interest in the business space that they're ignoring the 800-pound gorilla of tablet computing: the Apple iPad 2. They're not. There will be a lot of well-tested entertainment applications and games for the Kindle Tablet.
Unlike so many other Android tablets, I expect Amazon to price its tablet very aggressively.
5. Get ready to say good-bye to the dedicated e-reader.
I've said it before; I'll say it again the dedicated e-book is on its way to history's trashcan. You'll still be able to buy e-book readers from major vendors for this coming holiday season. Christmas 2012 though? I doubt it. There will be inexpensive e-book readers, but I expect Amazon and Barnes & Noble to only be offering tablets like the Kindle Tablet 2 and the successor to the Barnes & Noble Nook Color.
How close am I? Well, we'll see in October 2011 when the first Amazon Kindle Tablets will arrive. Personally, I'm looking forward to it. While Android tablets are finally making in-roads in the tablet market, we still haven't had a big Android tablet release, a tablet that made people actually pause before buying an Apple iPad 2. The Amazon Kindle Tablet will do exactly that.