Amazon (AMZN) head Jeff Bezos all but confirmed to Consumer Reports the industry's worst secret: Amazon is creating an iPad-like tablet. However, an Amazon insider claims that the company is creating a whole host of devices, including an Amazon phone, based on Google's (GOOG) Android operating system. If true, tha twould be excellent news for Google and potentially a big bite out of Apple's (APPL) mobile tablet lead.
The Amazon-Google partnership began with the Android-based Amazon App Store in March. Bezos claims customers have downloaded more than a million apps despite the store launching with only about 4,000 items. The apps can be used on any Android phone or tablet.
This tip came from an industry insider with direct knowledge of the project. The information was shared with me in a recent face-to-face meeting and I believe the source to be trustworthy. It was also confirmed by a separate source who has provided reliable information in the past. As with most of my tipsters, they wish to remain anonymous...
Now most recently, I was told with a smile that there is not one tablet, but an entire family of devices in the pipeline. This surprised me at first, but Amazon is placing a huge bet on Android so it makes sense for them to launch several types of devices and see what gets the best reception.
Wimberly was told that these different devices include a phone. I'm pretty skeptical about Amazon becoming a phone manufacturer -- there seems to be no compelling reason for it to enter the already crowded smartphone market.
However, it definitely could mean various sized tablets and handhelds a la the Apple iPod Nano, iPod, and, of course, iPad. The evidence adds up:
- Amazon just launched its cloud-based music service. It could create a low-cost music device that accesses tunes from the server -- something the next Nano will probably do.
- The next generation Kindle is expected to have a full touchscreen, a higher resolution screen, and other features that point to an Android platform.
- The next Kindle isn't going to compete with the iPad - in fact, I argue that it shouldn't - but Amazon is aggressively building up its app store. An iPad-inspired tablet would be the third device.