Amazon.com Inc, maker of the Kindle e-book reader, is expected to unveil a tablet powered by Google Inc’s Android operating system 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 today, but has enigmatically declined to say what it was about.
According to the tech blog TechCrunch, the Amazon device will be called the “Kindle Fire” and will feature a seven-inch (17.78cm) screen, smaller than Apple Inc’s iPad’s 9.7-inch 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 said. “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.”
Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, in a recent blog post, said Amazon taking on Apple is a “bit like David taking on Goliath.”
However, 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 during 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 Electronics Co is mired in global legal battles with Apple over patent infringement claims, while BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd 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 US$499, but Levy said an Amazon tablet could start at about US$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.”