On Wednesday morning, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will take the stage in New York City to make a big announcement on behalf of the company. What he will say is a mystery, though major leaks and rumors certainly give a good idea of what might be ahead for Amazon.com.
Amazon is widely expected to announce a tablet at its big event. HuffPost Tech sister site TechCrunch got their hands on a prototype of the tablet to play with back in early September. Here's what MG Siegler of TechCrunch believes to be true, based on his early look at the device:
-It has a 7-inch multitouch screen. -It is color, not black-and-white. -It runs a heavily-modified version of Android, but does not feature the Android Market. -All apps are Amazon specific, leading you into Amazon's app store, music store, etc. -It does not come pre-loaded with an email client; rather, you must either check email from the web browser or find an email client you like in the Amazon App Store.
On Monday, Siegler followed up with what he believes to be the name of the tablet , the "Kindle Fire." Siegler also write that the Fire will be available for sale in the second week of November.
Tech site GDGT followed up with details about the tablet's build, writing that the Fire looks a whole lot like the BlackBerry Playbook, and that this similarity is not a coincidence: In order to get their new tablet out in time for the holidays, Amazon outsourced design and production of the new tablet to the same company that made the Playbook (which, by the way, isn't doing so hot in terms of sales). GDGT's anonymous sources apparently also told them that this first Kindle Fire is "supposed to be pretty poor" and is a "stopgap" before Amazon releases its real entry into the tablet market sometime in 2012 (apparently, Amazon really, really wants a tablet out for Christmas).
TechCrunch's Siegler, meanwhile, who has actually used the tablet, says the device is not as bad as GDGT's sources make it out to be
"[H]aving played with a [prototype] model myself," Siegler wrote, "I can assure you that it’s better than the PlayBook because the software is better and, more importantly, the content available is much better."
Though Siegler was initially convinced the tablet would cost $250, he now hears whispers that it may be $300. Wherever the price ends up, expect it to be lower than the iPad's $499 price tag. Amazon has a "willingness to sell hardware at a loss," according to Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps (as quoted by the Associated Press), with the plan being to make back the money they lose on the tablet itself through purchases within their app store.
We already know that Amazon has secured the rights to digital versions of Hearst, Conde Nast and Meredith magazines, but expect streaming video to be a large part of the Amazon presentation on Wednesday, too: AllThingsD recently reported that Amazon had come to a deal to acquire Fox content (including films from Fox Movie Network) for streaming through their Amazon Prime service. With the latest haul, Amazon Prime now features over 11,000 movies and TV shows, compared to just north of 31,000 for Netflix.
Amazon has been one of many media giants rumored to be pursuing the purchase of Hulu; lately it has also been fingered as a possible buyer of Netflix, now that the streaming site's stock price has fallen so low.
Speaking of Netflix, earlier in September the Wall Street Journal wrote that Amazon was rumored to be preparing a "Netflix for Books"-type service, which would give Kindle owners access to an unlimited number of books for a flat monthly fee; a digital books discussion board at MobileRead also found HTML evidence that such a service might be in the planning stages at Amazon, though nothing more has come of that rumor.
Whatever happens tomorrow, we'll be there for it, live-blogging the event and eagerly awaiting whatever Jeff Bezos and Amazon have in store.