updated 04:10 pm EDT, Wed April 20, 2011
Amazon tablet said made by Samsung
On-off rumors of an Amazon-branded tablet were sparked again by a rumor that it had a picked a contractor. Instead of relying primarily on Lab126 to make the hardware, Amazon is reportedly turning to Samsung to make a tablet on its behalf. Gdgt had few other details, but the normally well-connected Peter Rojas said he was "99% certain" based on details.
Most of the remaining details were speculation. Android 3.0 would be the logical candidate, but Amazon might be concerned about talk of tighter limits on customization that would limit what Amazon could do to customize the interface. One option would be to use a phone-oriented Android build, such as 2.3 or the future Ice Cream, and use the relative freedom to customize the interface.
Any device would likely tap into as many of Amazon's services as possible, including its MP3 store, Cloud Drive, Kindle Store, and Instant Video. A deal could give those with Prime unlimited video streaming an always-on way to get to their movie collection beyond a computer.
Pricing might be a challenge for Amazon, since it will not only have to compete against tablets like the iPad or Xoom but also against an upgraded Nook Color. At $250, the tablet will have a Flash-capable browser and some third-party apps that will give it a limited amount of tablet functionality but at a price closer to a traditional e-reader.
Amazon likes to launch new hardware in or near August to seize on the upswing in sales nearer to the end of the year, but no clues have emerged so far as to whether or not it's coming close. Amazon has been making small gestures such as buying a multi-touch firm and hiring for LCD expertise, though these would imply developing some of the hardware design without Samsung's help.
Neither of the involved companies has commented on the rumor.