Batter up: Amazon Kindle tab to be unveiled this week?

by Howard Wolinsky

Like a star pitcher on the way to a no-hitter, Apple has fanned challengers to its iPad one by one.

Some such as the Xoom from Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. had a decent showing in the reviews but just couldn’t stand up to iPad’s heat. BlackBerry’s PlayBook didn’t have game. Poor Sony has been declared DOA with its tablet.

Cocky Apple appears to be waiting until some decent competition shows up before it calls in the iPad 3 from the bullpen as reported last week.

Next up in the batter’s box could be Amazon with its own take on an Android tablet.

Amazon is scheduled to hold a press conference Wednesday in New York. The subject of the event wasn’t specified, but the rumor mill is predicting it will be the Amazonian’s Android tab.

Chris Velazco reported in TechCrunch that speculation is “running wild, and the potential [Amazon] unveiling of their new tablet is on everyone’s mind.”

If it turns out to be the new tab, he said, “[It] couldn’t come at more perfect time for Amazon: news of Barnes and Noble’s new complement of Nook Color tablets has just begun to surface, and their third generation Kindles can’t stack up to shiny new hardware when the holiday season rolls around. The timing and the landscape seem ready for a tablet contender with Amazon’s full weight thrown behind it.”

Earlier this month, MG Siegler at TechCrunch reported on trying out what could prove to be the Amazon device, 7-inch color touchscreen running on Android from Google. It’s likely to be called a Kindle after Amazon’s e-reader.

It may be priced for $250, below the least expensive iPad.

Citing an analyst, Charles Arthur in the Guardian said price will be a key to taking on the iPad juggernaut: “Rather as the Kindle e-reader was priced low to quickly get traction among readers, Jeff Bezos is expected to keep the price of its tablet low to attract users and sell other content and service.”

"It's a marketing tool to build a relationship with customers and sell them cloud (computing) services,said James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research.

Robert Baird & Co analyst Colin Sebastian said in August an Amazon tablet would be a “game-changer,selling 3 million units in its first year.

So batter up, Amazon.