Speculation has Amazon launching a tablet on Wednesday

by Phil Hornshaw

Rumors that Amazon is working on a tablet that will use Google’s Android operating system, and could stand against both the field of Android tablets as well as Apple’s iPad, are coming to a head this week with a press event the company is hosting on Wednesday.

It’s some kind of media event taking place in New York City, but Amazon hasn’t released specifics as to exactly what the event will be about, according to a story from the Los Angeles Times. Speculation is that the event could be Amazon’s announcement of its tablet.

Rumor has it the tablet has been in development for some time, and speculation surrounding it has been flying around for months. There was some expectation that the tablet was going to launch earlier this year, but Amazon released no information and there was a while there that talk of the tablet died down.

But now makes for a good time for Amazon to launch a Google tablet, mostly because Amazon has launched and could launch a lot of new features to go with it. The online retailer just inked a deal with FOX to carry some 2,000 of its movies and TV shows with its Amazon Prime video streaming service, bringing its streaming offerings up to about 11,000 in total. It also just beefed up the capabilities of its Kindle apps and service, which are available on Android devices as well as Apple’s iOS devices, by making it possible to “borrow” e-books from libraries.

Amazon is also expected to release another new Kindle feature in the near future, often described as “Netflix for books.” The subscription service would allow users to pay a monthly fee and allow them to download books to the Kindle app or Kindle devices, read them, and then download new ones when they’re finished, without actually owning the books in the meantime. That service is a rumor, though, and hasn’t been officially announced. And of course, there’s the Amazon Appstore for Android apps, which the company launched during the summer.

Here’s a quote from the LAT story:

The Amazon tablet, which is expected to carry the Kindle name used on the Seattle-based company's e-readers thus far, is rumored to cost about $250 and feature a 7-inch touchscreen, which would make it smaller and about half the price of an entry-level Apple iPad, the current tablet sales leader.

Back in July, Amazon was rumored to be ordering something like 1.2 million tablets from manufacturers and it seemed that the announcement for the device was imminent. Obviously that hasn’t been the case, but Amazon might have been smarter to have waited. With its Appstore picking up steam, a new deal for Amazon Prime streaming, upcoming Kindle features and a mature mobile ecosystem under its belt, Amazon might have all its ducks in a row and ready for launch.