BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, US computer giant Hewlett-Packard, South Korea’s Samsung and scores of other companies with devices powered by Google’s Android software have all taken swings at the iPad and missed.
A contender may finally be here.
Amazon, maker of the Kindle electronic book reader, is expected to unveil an Android-powered tablet at an event in New York this week according to numerous press reports.
The Seattle-based online retail giant is holding a press conference in the Big Apple on Wednesday but has enigmatically declined to say what it was about.
According to the technology blog TechCrunch, the Amazon device will be called the ” Kindle Fire” and will feature a seven-inch (17.78-centimeter) screen, smaller than the iPad’s 9.7-inch (24.6-cm) display.
It will ship in the second week of November, TechCrunch said.
Technology analysts are predicting that an Amazon tablet could pose the most serious challenge yet to Apple’s dominance of the fast-growing tablet market.
“More than any other recent tablet introduction, Amazon’s entry is set to shake the still-solidifying market to its very core,” independent technology analyst Carmi Levy told AFP.
“Unlike hardware manufacturers who lack the pockets and the resolve to slug it out with Apple in a protracted war over market share, Amazon has both the resources and the will to stay in the game as long as it needs to,” he said.
Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, in a recent blog post, said Amazon taking on Apple is a “bit like David taking on Goliath.”
But Rotman Epps said Amazon’s “willingness to sell hardware at a loss combined with the strength of its brand, content, cloud infrastructure, and commerce assets makes it the only credible iPad competitor in the market.”
According to technology research firm Gartner, the iPad will account for 68.7 percent of the 69.7 million tablets sold this year and will remain the top-selling device over the next few years.
While Gartner said Android-powered tablets will see their market share rise from 14.2 percent last year to 19.9 percent this year, most of Apple’s tablet rivals are struggling.
Samsung is mired in global legal battles with Apple over patent infringement claims, HP discontinued production of its TouchPad after just seven weeks and RIM shipped only 200,000 PlayBooks last quarter, when Apple sold 9.25 million iPads.
Levy and other analysts said they expect Amazon to significantly undercut Apple on price. Apple’s cheapest iPad sells for $499 but Levy said an Amazon tablet could start at around $250.
“Since Amazon is in the business of moving content and not hardware, I expect its tablet to be very aggressively priced,” he said. “An artificially low price point would also put pressure on Apple — something no competitor has been able to do thus far.”
Citi analyst Mark Mahaney said a recent survey indicates that tablet buyers are very price-conscious.
“Pricing remains a critical factor, and $200-$300 is an important range to draw new buyers into the tablet market,” Mahaney said in a research note.
“Amazon faces a significantly large tablet opportunity given its history with being price competitive, ability to enjoy very low distribution costs (vs. other tablet brands), and its ability to integrate top consumer-preferred activities on tablets,” the Citi analyst said.
Forrester is predicting that Amazon could sell 3-5 million tablets in the fourth quarter alone with a device priced under $300.
Like with the Kindle, Amazon would not be looking to make a profit on the hardware but from digital content such as books, music, movies and games and applications sold for the device.
“Over the past few years, Amazon’s customers have gotten used to one-click purchases of books and other published content via the Kindle,” Levy said.
“(Amazon’s) goal is to drive as much business as possible to and through its online retail presence,” he said. “Amazon doesn’t need to maximize its profits on every tablet sold.
“It’ll take thinner margins — or even per-unit losses — if that means getting as many Amazon tablets into consumers’ hands before the all-important Christmas shopping season,” the analyst said.
Android is an operating system for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. It is developed by the Open Handset Alliance led by Google.
Google purchased the initial developer of the software, Android Inc., in 2005. The unveiling of the Android distribution on November 5, 2007 was announced with the founding of the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of 84 hardware, software, and telecommunication companies devoted to advancing open standards for mobile devices. Google released most of the Android code under the Apache License, a free software license. The Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is tasked with the maintenance and further development of Android.
Android consists of a kernel based on the Linux kernel, with middleware, libraries and APIs written in C and application software running on an application framework which includes Java-compatible libraries based on Apache Harmony. Android uses the Dalvik virtual machine with just-in-time compilation to run compiled Java code. Android has a large community of developers writing applications (“apps”) that extend the functionality of the devices. Developers write primarily in a customized version of Java. There are currently more than 520,000 apps available for Android. Apps can be downloaded from third-party sites or through online stores such as Android Market, the app store run by Google.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) is a US-based multinational electronic commerce company. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, it is often called the world’s largest online retailer. Amazon has websites and delivery for the following countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Japan, and China. Launches in Netherlands, Sweden, and India may follow. It also provides international shipping to certain countries for some of its products.
Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com, Inc. in 1994 and the site went online in 1995. It is named after the Amazon River, one of the largest rivers in the world. Amazon.com started as an online bookstore, but soon diversified, selling DVDs, CDs, MP3 downloads, computer software, video games, electronics, apparel, furniture, food, and toys.
Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program. The company was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, often dubbed the “Google Guys”, while the two were attending Stanford University as PhD candidates. It was first incorporated as a privately held company on September 4, 1998, and its initial public offering followed on August 19, 2004. At that time Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt agreed to work together at Google for twenty years, until the year 2024. The company’s mission statement from the outset was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”, and the company’s unofficial slogan – coined by Google engineer Amit Patel and supported by Paul Buchheit – is “Don’t be evil”. In 2006, the company moved to its current headquarters in Mountain View, California.
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