Thursday, April 21, 2011

Is Samsung building an Android tablet for Amazon?

Peter Rojas, a staffer at, writes about the "open secret" that Amazon is working on an Android tablet.

  He even says he's "99% certain they are having Samsung build one for them."
  The Galaxy tablet is not doing that well with reviewers or with sales, though some really like it, so I hope it's either not true or that Amazon sets higher standards for them.

  BUT it would certainly explain the sudden lawsuit Apple filed against Samsung this week for look and feel (rounded corners on a rectangle, among other things -- maybe even words on a screen).  I'd thought it was odd that Samsung seemed that much of a threat to Apple -- but Amazon & Samsung?, probably.

 Rojas adds that, unlike Barnes and Noble, Amazon would use the tablet for more:
' a platform for selling music (see that cloud locker they just rolled out?), video (you can bet Amazon Instant Video will be a big part of this), and apps from the Android app store they just launched (which is the biggest indication of all that they've got something in the works).  You probably wouldn't have something as open as a regular Android tablet (at least not without hacking it), but I think most users would accept the trade-off if it meant a much lower price of entry.
. . .
  ...they have shown with the Kindle that they can produce a great product and then expertly tie that product into a content platform.  I'm not sure I can stress how non-trivial an accomplishment this is, especially for a company that's mainly known as a retailer. There are full-fledged consumer electronics companies that still haven't figured this stuff out. '
He thinks a tablet might be out no later than this summer although that seems off the top of his head.  A commenter to the site writes (and I agree) that while the stars are aligning, as he puts it, for something like this,  he hopes Amazon waits until Google "cleans up Honeycomb" - their Android operating system that was designed FOR tablet devices but has been very buggy.

In that Comments area, Rojas -- in his responses --  treats Samsung's role with the tablet as a certainty.
' I can't say specifically why Amazon partnered with Samsung, because I don't really know, but my guess is that Samsung was able to make it attractive enough from a financial standpoint and Amazon probably felt like they could deliver an iPad-quality tablet.

  Should also mention that this may be something neither party ever confirms publicly. '

Well, I guess they WILL confirm it if they actually release one together :-) -- or he's saying it would carry the Amazon name and not Samsung's and would not be touted as built by Samsung (which would be odd).

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  1. I don't read much into the Apple lawsuit. It just seems like standard practice when you have a pile of disposable cash and you just want to slow down the competition a bit. Samsung is part of Apple's supply chain so it would be unwise for Apple to seriously damage them. I'm reminded of Nixon's 'Madman Theory': in this variation, Apple thinks that if they behave irrationally, suing their own partners, that would be competitors will give them a wide berth to operate freely in.

    Galaxy Tab seems like a solid if not stellar first effort, and has seen some action, so if it is true that Samsung is partnering with Amazon, I'm sure the result will be an improvement in many ways, not the least of which is the engagement of Amazon's marketing prowess. The Tab wifi is only $350, if Amazon can sell a similar device for under $300 (or my personal favorite price, $239, $10 less than Nook Color), I think they can sell the crap out of it.

  2. Lately I keep feeling that Amazon has some great cards up its sleeve. The latest moves are looking to me like some pieces falling together at last.

    In this context, an Amazon tablet is only a matter of time (and maybe some more pieces). And I daresay it will be on equal footing with the IPad. It wont benefit from the same hype as the Apple products, but the content platform behind it will cover any shortcomings. And after all, look at the Kindle. It didn't get through from the first time, but right now it's Amazon's bestseller.

    I believe Apple has every right to be afraid. And I'm glad :)

  3. The main reason the Galaxy isn't doing so well economically is marketing.
    Samsung markets it exclusively as a cellphone/PDA (at least over here, the only marketing for it at all is for simlocked versions branded for telcos), for which it's too large and expensive.

    I'd not buy one anyway, as I won't buy anything running Android (and won't buy anything created by Apple again, my iPod Touch was the last one).
    The ever increasing trouble both companies have with respecting consumer rights and basic privacy legislation led me to that decision over a year ago (the current revelations about them tracking device location and sending that, together with who knows what else, to daddy didn't surprise me at all, in fact I'd been suspecting it for a long time).

    We can only hope Amazon doesn't replace the DX with a tablet (which the rumour mill has them do) as the K3 is too small for me (and every new iteration of the Kindle seems to get smaller still) and I won't buy either an Android device or a backlit eReader of any kind.

  4. jwenting,
    Thanks for the added info. When I was interested in the Galaxy, the relative slowness was not enticing, nor some of the bugs. Also, I have the NookColor, and its resolution spoiled me for the Galaxy's and even the iPad's. That's a personal thing since photographs are super important in my case. The Nat'l Geo is just gorgeous on it.

    I always took it for granted the cell phones could track you. When people are missing, they've used cell phone logs to see where people were last and before that. In fact, it's saved a few people who -were- lost and in danger.

    Yes, I love my DXG and have started using it again more when in the house. The little K3 is so light and clear, it's always with me when out, and I got used to the small size but had forgotten how great it is is to read on the DXG (which is just super clear)

    I set my NookColor brightness to just 5% of default setting and choose an ivory setting. It works very well, but for long-form or long-session reading in sequential fashion (not jumping around as with browsers where you get eye relief with the movement), it's the Kindle I use. Also, I really like using Dragon 7's Kindle Notepad app a lot and am constantly using it, in or out.

  5. Andrys,
    I believe the reference article postulates a 7" Amazon tablet based on the released (and shipping) lacklusterly-reviewed Galaxy tab 7". I hope this is not the case.

    I, personally, would prefer something with a a screen size more akin to a KDX's; and I would like to see an Amazon tablet positioned as a KDX follow on with WIFI capability.

    BTW, about a month ago Samsung significantly revamped the GT tablet with 8.9" and 10.1" models that are thinner and lighter than the iPad 2. The 10.1" model will ship on June 8 (no date for the 8.9" model). The 16GB & 32GB versions of the 10.1" model will be priced at $499 and $599 respectively (the 8.9" model will undercut iPad 2 pricing).

    I would hope that a Samsung fabricated Amazon tablet is based on one or the other of these latter two models -- in which case they could have one hot product (especially if it comes with a whole bunch of kindle- and Amazon-appropriate software tweaks.

  6. Ed!
    Thanks for visiting (it's been awhile since I've seen you on the forums but I don't get there as much either).

    Thanks for the information on Samsung's coming 8.9" and 10.1" models. I'd missed that news.

    It'd be nice if Amazon were able to use one of those (especially the 10.1" one because even the 9.7" DXG is still not as large as I want for PDF documents) and be able to price the tablet lower due to the whole "eco-system" which, many are pointing out, would be centered around an Amazon Android tablet.

    At the same time, as a DX Graphite "Pearl screen" owner, I hope they continue that model in some way while making it more affordable and give it some software updates to take advantage of its newer screen capabilities.

    Fingers crossed on all of it.

  7. Andrys,

    More Amazon tablet rumors – this from the WashPost:
    This seems to speculate on a dual screen tablet: a small touch sensitive eink display for input, and a color LCD display using “fringe field switching”, a transflective technology that brings some of the Mirasol-like bright sunlight characteristics to an LCD display. Interestingly it (the display) will be made by eInk holdings. This link:
    mentions production quantities of 700-800 thousand per month.
    Ed Boyhan
    The Digital Iceworks

  8. Ed, thanks.
    I actually have the long original article on my screen since last night. Many are interpreting it differently, so I've held on to it and will see what more I can find out tonight because so much of it is vague as to the actual thing being ordered, the technology etc.

    I posted yesterday in the thread about this at the forums. Two people did columns mentioning its similarity to what is used in my NookColor while others interpret it as having e-Ink characteristics (only one can be true).

    Others say only that E-Ink Inc licensed a color technology of the LCD type, basically, which is involved, so I will look up more.
    They're not set until 2nd half 2011, and so I held up on it.

    The many articles out on this cite the same source that I'm using and I've been looking at the actual wording. I also remember when they were wrong in interpretation of Nook shipments when Nook was shipping to the many stores opening up, as stock, and they interpreted it as unit already sold and I was busy clarifying that as hundreds of articles quoted their interpretation as units-sold, so I'm just being conservative, as most e-reader/tablet people have been talking about it on Twitter but as I mentioned, interpretations on the technology differs quite a bit.

    I thought I'd introduce it last night to readers here but decided I'll do a slightly longer piece tonight when I get back.

    Thanks for making sure I am in the loop. There are many things I do miss. But I happened to be around yesterday when this broke.

  9. Yeah, after I posted you about the WashPost article I went off and read another 25 (including the original in digitimes) articles.

    They are all rehashing the same info from the same last 3 articles on this topic. After reading it all I'm not sure it'll be a dual screen display -- although e-ink and "fringe field switching" are mutually exclusive -- the latter being an LCD-only technology.

    Everyone seems to agree that E-Ink Holdings will make the display (they have a subsidiary, Hydis, which is a leader in the "fringe field switching" space).

    The bummer for me is that everyone is quoting a 2H 2011 (most speculating after Labor day for Xmas 2011) delivery date -- I was hoping (still hope) for a closer in announcement.

  10. Ed,
    I'm sure it won't be a dual screen display. But if it were just as good as NookColor's (the best on the Android market right now), THAT would be great.

    The dual screen (pixel Qi) of Notion Ink's Adam has proved to be a real flop, w/ readability falling off at the sides. Ironic. The hardware is said to be good but the dual-screen there is the weakness.

    You're right about the FFS being an LCD-only, and we will be in better shape if they do use the one that's like the NookColor's (which is just gorgeous for magazines and web-browsing though slowish in the latter but good enough).

    Me too, I hoped for June-July latest and now it looks to be held off. I hope what you and I both still wish for there is possible because Amazon needs to get it sooner. They may have intentionally allowed a leak on this so people will wait, despite all the tablets coming out, increasingly more capable, while the apps field becomes better.


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