While we don’t know much about it, we do know that Amazon will release a tablet later this year. We can assume at this point that it will run Android. Amazon has run some trick plays in the past, but I doubt they’ll go so far as to create their own mobile OS, especially since they recently released their own Android app store. There is huge potential here for Amazon to one-up the market and have the device this holiday season. With a few lucky breaks it might even generate iPad-like hype. This all has me wondering what the Amazon tablet will look like. What will it bring to the table that other tablets do not? Today, both Rob Jackson of Phandroid and Kevin Tofel of GigaOm brought up some ideas. They’re quite different, but both are tantalizing. If Amazon somehow incorporated both, they would certainly move to the front of the Amazon tablet market. The question, of course, is of how practically feasible they are. We’ve seen many great ideas that have been poorly executed. While I love the idea of an e-ink display and cloud music storage, Amazon has to find a way to make it work for everyone. In his article, Tofel wonders about how Amazon can leverage its cloud storage service. “The company could keep the price of its tablet lower than competitors by reducing the amount of flash memory available and bundling 20 GB of Cloud Storage with the purchase of a slate,” he writes. This sounds like a great idea in theory, and at first I thought that it was obvious enough that Amazon just had to do it. But cloud streaming does come at a cost, even if Amazon is providing the storage space as part of the tablet package. It requires an internet connection, which means you can either stream it over WiFi at home (or at a hotspot), or over a mobile network. The latter can get costly. While I do like the idea of bundling cloud storage with an Amazon tablet — it makes too much sense — it should not replace physical storage. The idea Jackson raises is a bit more enticing:
The device Quanta is making for Amazon supposedly has E-Ink capabilities. While Digitimes has been known to shoot from the hip, they’ve also got solid inside sources within supply chains and this all seems feasible to me.
How feasible is this, really? The device would then require dual displays, one for e-ink and the other a high-resolution one. I’m not sure how Amazon would go about blending the two, especially if, as Tofel believes, they go with 7-inch model. Would there be a display on each side of the device? Would there be a way to slide in an e-ink display? I’m trying to think of ways they could make this work, and I’m not coming up with anything solid. That is, unless Amazon finds a way to have one display handle both functions — in which case I will push and shove my way to the front of the line. E-ink is far superior to any other display for reading text, and its addition to an LCD display would make for a near perfect tablet. It sounds as though Amazon will have this ready for a second half release, which leaves us plenty of time to speculate. It also means that we should be seeing some more solid details in the not so distant future. I have confidence that Amazon can come up with a compelling design; my Kindle is still one of my favorite devices. But the most fun part of this tablet might be the imagination of what it can be. Because, in all likelihood, it won’t quite live up to our dreams. Which is OK. Shoot for the stars and reach the moon and all that jazz.