An Amazon tablet -- which is, admittedly, not known to exist -- could help fuel a nine-fold increase in the demand for dynamic random access memory (DRAM) in 2011, according to US-based market tracker iSuppli. With the Kindle generating an estimated (by Caris & Co) $5.5 billion in revenues this year, the internet's leading bookseller certainly has the incentive to try its luck. Indeed, Amazon already has an Android Appstore, and its Kindle ebook reader faces competition from Barnes & Noble's Android-based tablet, the Nook Color.
In a news release, Tablet DRAM Demand Explodes in 2011 as Market Expands Beyond iPad, iSuppli says: "Tablet shipments this year are projected to reach 63.2 million units, up from 17.5 million in 2010, and will hit 113.9 million units next year." Most of these will be Apple iPads, but products such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom, RIM PlayBook, HP TouchPad, Asus Eee Pad and Transformer, plus dozens of "white box" products, will all add to the demand for memory chips. And as iSuppli analyst Mike Howard adds: "Unofficial reports of a new tablet device being readied by Amazon to go head to head with the iPad bodes nothing but good news for the dynamic random access memory (DRAM) market." I assume this means "prices could go up"….
Amazon would have some advantages entering the highly competitive tablet market. It already has the marketing and direct supply capabilities, along with hundreds of millions of established customers. It has access to vast amounts of content, including digital music, TV shows and movies, Android apps, a cloud player and a cloud drive. It can match or beat Apple on customer service and price. It has a Kindle user base to upgrade. No wonder many observers, including PCWorld, consider an Amazon tablet inevitable.
Indeed, one blog, Boy Genius Report, has gone further, in tipping two tablets, codenamed Coyote and Hollywood. In a brief post, Jonathan S. Geller writes:
"We received word from a tipster that Amazon, practically confirmed to be entering the tablet market in the near future, isn't planning just one device, but is planning on releasing at least two before the end of the year. Information is light, but we have been told that the 'entry' level tablet, codenamed 'Coyote' will be based on the Nvidia Tegra 2 platform. The big boy? That’s codenamed 'Hollywood' and will be based on the Nvidia T30 'Kal-El' which will bring a screaming quad-core processor with a 500% performance increase over the dual-core Tegra 2."
It seems unlikely that Amazon would want to compete on specifications by shipping a cutting edge Kal-El chip (see my earlier post) when it can compete instead on content, convenience and customer service, but stranger things have happened.
Best guess seem to be that Amazon will ship its hypothetical tablet(s) in the second half of this year. That starts only three weeks from now, but don't hold your breath. I suspect Amazon wants to see further improvements made to Google Android 3 (the tablet version, code-named Honeycomb, lacks polish), and that the breakpoint in its schedule is that it must ship in time for the Christmas market. It will certainly want to ship inside the tablet bubble, because no one knows when that's going to burst.